A quick-fire quiz of successful foreigners in Ukraine. Hopefully, their answers will inspire and help entrepreneurs from abroad to set up business in our country.
1. How can Ukraine attract foreigners today?
2. What problems did you deal with while starting your business or career in Ukraine?
3. What do you like about Ukrainians and where is a room for improvement?
4. What advice would you give to people planning to open a business or continue their career in Ukraine?
Alfred F. Praus
Austria, President and founder, Ukrainian-Austrian Association
1. Ukraine is a country with many appealing features: a great landscape like in the mostly unspoiled Carpathians, seaside in the south, attractive cities like Odesa, Lviv and Kyiv; sights like Kamyanets-Podilskyy or Uman; a rich cultural heritage, e.g. in literature and music; very friendly and hospitable people. As far as business is concerned, Ukraine, being the biggest country in Europe with approximately 40 million inhabitants, in its actual state commands an enormous growth potential opening vast opportunities for Western investors.
2. After the Orange Revolution, my decent track record and a recommendation by the Austrian ambassador with some real business VIPs in Ukraine have led, in almost no time, to inquiries concerning projects even in areas I had not been very experienced at that time. I was honored by such an extent of trust and have finally fully delivered after having teamed up with international experts. Second, considering my long-time business experience on all continents, I was still surprised by the distinct intercultural differences in communication and management.
3. I like the friendly, open and very hospitable attitude of most ordinary Ukrainians. In Austria, even at times of my childhood, mentality was not that pronounced in this respect. They have a strong sense for family life, are taking care for the elder in their families. And people are much more flexible as compared to Western Europe mentality. On the adverse side, such a considerable extent of flexibility means that Ukrainians are sometimes not really stable, changing their mind too often, which may sometimes even produce some resentment with their Western opposites.
4. Businessmen from the West should be aware of the sometimes substantial cultural differences and consider those in their way of doing business. Both chances and risks are higher than in Western Europe. In big business be aware of vested interests associated with sometimes unfair practices. In any case, one should in principle thoroughly check the business to be started and its framework conditions. In many cases it is advisable to take a reliable local partner. And, finally, trust is a good thing but control is better!
Turkey, CEO, Ocean Company Trade
1. I believe Ukraine retains a potential, especially if some structural reforms are implemented. If we talk about expats in Ukraine, it is easy to set up a company and receive a working/residence permit, which are two main advantages at first. From the business point of view, Ukraine has 40 million residents (potential consumers), and consumption is below the average of global standards, like in many developing countries. Compared to developed countries, reasonable labor and transport costs can also draw investors' attention.
2. Ukraine is an interesting country in terms of unexpected moments. You can face a problem suddenly. But my experience proves that a lot of problems can be solved quickly as well. As an importer, my company faced some unexpected customs regulations changes but overcame these issues. The most memorable difficulty for us is the change of Food Certificates. During two years, respective regulations changed three times, which can be considered unexpected.
3. Personally, I don’t believe in stereotyping but, in general, positive attitude is the feature I like in Ukrainians. Analytical thinking can be the first feature I would like to change. Making priorities about business issues is a specific minus I observe. Company loyalty is also a feature I would like to change. Because of excessive focus on salary, many Ukrainians miss an opportunity to build experience and expertise in business.
4. I would advise them to investigate the market in detail. Compared with many other countries, processes are generally slow here. Investors should be prepared for this and make plans accordingly. I believe that to make a successful business in Ukraine, you need to offer competitive prices or exclusive products.
Photos provided by Alfred, F. Praus, Turgay Bingol, shutterstock.com.