While the world’s attention is focused on the geopolitics, security, and macroeconomic stability in Ukraine, the future economic narrative of my country is defined by forward-looking entrepreneurs: one business venture at a time.
Irrefutably, the people of Ukraine and our government are dealing with immense, even existential, challenges. To an outside observer, the situation may look quite grim, but to Michael Traud or Valery Krasovsky, it’s the vision of prosperous and peaceful Ukraine that counts. They are not deterred or held back by the circumstance; they are focused on the work at hand and are writing the story of my country’s economic success today, not waiting for conditions to be perfect.
In the days of hyper-caution, it’s worth recognizing the opportunities that come hidden in setbacks. The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence itself – but acting with yesterday’s logic. Ukraine’s transition away from the kleptocracy of Yanukovych era, offers a pathway for innovative, courageous and adaptable businesses. As the Japanese say, ‘a crisis is too good an opportunity to waste’.
Investing in Ukraine and running a business here may seem like a daunting, lonely and risk-strewn path. That’s one way of looking at things, but here’s another – lead a firm with passion, heart and determination.
“If you drive a German car, you can be sure that you have paid Ukrainian workers”, says Michael Traud, the owner of the ODW Electric Ukraine. The local office of this German electromechanical components supplier produces 800,000 cables per week for the German auto industry. Michael has been working in Ukraine for about 10 years, and he is turning a crisis on its head. The message is simple – today there are tremendous opportunities. You just have to make them work for you. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” – agree the millennials of the new Ukraine’s environment.
For those in the know, it is no secret that the IT industry of Ukraine is booming. Many Ukraine-based tech companies are looking to expand their reach. “High-quality services are always a hot trend, despite all the turbulence in the media,” says Valery Krasovsky, CEO at Sigma Software.
To address the ever-growing tech world’s appetite for software lifecycle services, Sigma Software, a member of Sigma Nordic Group, launched new locations in Poland and the USA, as well as an increased presence in Ukraine, by ramping up engineering offices in Kyiv and Lviv, in addition to Kharkiv and Odesa.
Ukraine will never be same. The country is changing rapidly, with its new leadership trying to ride out the external whirlwinds and wild economic blasts. In the midst of a crisis some business owners shut their doors, and cut out their expenses to the bones trying to play it safe and eke out a living. While the rest shake themselves together and take up the challenge.
Underpinned by the IMF’s swift assistance and reassured by its international partners, Ukraine’s lifeline for economic recovery is its ambitious yet realistic reform program. We must not let the doubt define our reality. The major task for the country’s leadership now is to put our own house in order, articulate the vision, and never lose confidence in our ability to achieve it together.
Author: Anna Derevyanko, Chair of the World Economic Forum Steering Board, “Unlocking the Virtuous Circle” project; Executive Director of the European Business Association, Ukraine
Image: A general view shows a new steel mill “Interpipe Steel” in Dnipropetrovsk, October 4, 2012. REUTERS/Anatolii Stepanov