Opora, a charity (1199760) helping Ukrainians to rebuild their lives sustainably in the UK for the long term, processed its first tranche of its business grants programme aimed at supporting Ukrainian refugee-led businesses starting up or rebuilding in the UK.
‘Ukrainians are a very entrepreneurial nation, and the Opora team knew from the very beginning that many refugees ending up in the UK would have had successful business projects in Ukraine, which are now either destroyed or no longer viable’, said Yegor Lanovenko, Founder and Chair of Opora. ‘It is no surprise that these arrivals are now looking for ways to apply their knowledge, skills and entrepreneurial nature to start up anew or rebuild their businesses in the UK’.
Opora believes supporting Ukrainian entrepreneurs is one of the best ways to facilitate self-sustainable, long-term ways of rebuilding Ukrainian lives in the UK, multiplying impact through further job-creation and contributing to the local economy. To facilitate this, Opora provides both business grants of up to £5,000 and business support, network contacts and ongoing mentoring to the entrepreneurs selected in the application process.
Opora’s Ukrainian refugee entrepreneur network and community support channels in the UK have grown to over 1k people since May. "The range of ideas, experience and sheer resilience and determination to keep going despite everything that has happened in this community is truly inspiring and highlights the incredible contribution refugees and immigrants can have on the local, national and international economy. We hope to be able to further expand this programme and help even more Ukrainian entrepreneurs as the new tranche opens soon’, added Yegor.
Among the recipients of the first tranche of the Opora business grants are:
Statnaia: a brand of luxury hand-made corsets designed and produced by Tetiana Stetsina, who left Odesa with her son in a car packed with stock, equipment and materials. She drove all the way to Oxfordshire where she is now living with her sponsors who welcomed her ‘like family’ and is actively rebuilding her business in both the UK and Ukraine, supporting her employees and teams in both countries. The grant will help Statnaia accelerate her efforts to establish a UK branch and workshop and scale sales through UK partnerships.
Twinkle Leo: brand of bespoke hand-made baby bedding sets made by Tatiana Ustyshch, who came to Bristol with her 3 year old son under the Homes for Ukraine program with her son from Kyiv, having found a sponsor using the Opora platform. Sewing started as a hobby for Tatiana who grew this into a full-time business in Ukraine after the birth of her son. Having studied the British market, Tatiana realised that there is a niche for her custom-made home textiles for children. Tatiana never stopped production, using borrowed equipment and her room in the sponsor’s house to fulfill orders. The grant will enable her to scale up production through purchasing professional equipment, of the kind she had to leave behind in Ukraine.
Pound: a vintage and antiques project, led by Lavrentii Tarasevych. Lavrentii, originally from a village by Irpin, Lavrentii moved to sponsors in Derbyshire with his wife, young son and mother. Lavrentii has over 20 years experience running antique stores and consultancy in Kyiv and he put his knowledge to good use from the very first week in the UK to support his family by attending carboot sales and auctions to learn the market and start rebuilding his business. In a few short months, he is already selling from sublet spaces at markets and other salons, launching online sales and hiring a sales assistant. The grant will help him build inventory and increase order volumes to accelerate growth.