24th February 2022, An another war on my Mother land Ukraine… Born in the mid 80s’ all my generation was born idealizing communist ideas of society, we were brought up learning Russian, being proud of being achieving our titles of a little Octobrist, until Ukraine officially declared itself an independent country on 24 August 1991, when the communist Supreme Soviet (parliament) of Ukraine proclaimed that Ukraine would no longer follow the laws of USSR and only the laws of the Ukrainian SSR, de facto declaring Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet Union. The country changed totally after Independence now we were so proud to be Ukrainians.
We were a part of Russia for over hundred years sharing common language, similar culture, political views, a part of its Economy and after over a century the change was not easy for any Ukrainian. But we stood strong and we stood tall as we believed in ourselves and in our Country, the Country know for its Blue Skies and its Yellow harvest fields known to be one of the world’s breadbaskets with its agricultural production amounting to 10% of global wheat exports and 17% of the global Corn exports to the whole world.
In July 2013 Russian put an embargo of Ukrainian goods that resulted putting all Ukrainian importers to the “list of risk” by the Federal Customs Service of Russia this trade sanctions launched against Ukraine imports by Russia resulting in Russian customs began unreasonable, inspection of all vehicles that transported Ukrainian goods. Harassment to the transporters and importers with “red tapism” resulting in Ukrainian goods laying idle at the Ukraine – Russian borders causing a lot of losses for Ukraine companies resulting in major unemployment in the country shaking-up the complete country’s economy. This resulted in awakening of my entrepreneur sense from its long hibernation mixed with my patriotism making me resign from a stable Multinational National career to being self employed and to start my own business predominantly focusing and working with Ukraine manufacturers and producers to sell in the region of Middle East and North African.
With long and strong experience in the region over the years INAS ExIm LLC accelerated with great success. Even under the Covid-19 challenges we managed to overcome it with our strong will power and determination. Leading an all women team I worked on marketing and awareness of Ukrainian produce through social media. This resulted in successful awareness of Ukrainian goods to many new regions, which eventually helped us open new export markets for Ukrainian produce through our company .
On 20 February 2014, the Russo-Ukrainian War began when Russian forcefully entered Crimea and took over. This created an anti-Russian feeling cross the country resulting a sense of insecurity among the Ukrainians about future.
This surfaced Russia’s true intentions of taking over the country, it seemed to go unfulfilled and close to impossible hence, February 24, 2022 Russia launched a major invasion on my country affecting all Exports from Ukraine to the world.
My company INAS ExIm LLC a company made by a Ukrainian women entrepreneur for Ukraine goods was completely frozen with no supplies out of Ukraine all the capital and business were under threat. It was a total blackout and my mind was not working we could not understand what would be the solution to the problem. We had many people discussing the challenges and many more expecting this war would end soon. But INAS ExIm LLC could not just be a part of assumption we had to take a call and we needed to survive. I had to know the corns and pros (if any) under the situation and started to analyze the situation.
At the moment what seemed right was to run the company at the bear minimum to help it survive. God always has a very mysterious way to execute things, the two employees of INAS Exim based from Ukraine that were most supportive during Covid had jointly quiet and joined a company that was in similar trade just a few weeks before the war. I was broken at the time but was in two minds if I want to replace them or should I manage it for a few months to see if I could do it without additional help, this turned out eventually to be a blessing. I had only the expenses of my United Arab Emirates operation to manage but would it be possible with zero trade from Ukraine?
The simple answer was “No!” how would it be possible for a company to take care of expenses without income? Soon the unavoidable expenses such as rentals, visa and license expenses, phone and electricity bills started to eat into the savings of the company and I had to look for alternative solution.
I started to have discussion with the Ukraine companies INAS ExIm was already working with, most were operational but exporting the goods out of the country seemed challenging. I coordinated with our freight agents they were already brain storming on possibilities but this time I was not only working with options from Ukraine as I needed to survive and putting all eggs in one basket had already got me into a situation. I was quick to think of getting alternative suppliers from Europe and started discussions with Poland, Turkey, Romania, Germany, India and even with the manufacturers in the U. A. E. plus, other possible regions to help with supplies. Also, as Ukraine produce was not available for export and due to war the energy prices were soaring at the time gave me an advantage of being an early bird with alternatives. I managed to book a few containers with alternative sources allowing me to buy time to help sort out exports from Ukraine and mean time take care of my company expenses. Survival of INAS ExIm was on the top priority and all my focus was on it. We managed to diversify getting supplies for new arrange of goods from India, I managed to close some deals with U. A. E. producers and other regions from Europe. What was important at the point was to keep the show running and my technical know-how of the products, my networking, my contacts all together helped me find right alternatives and be present in the market.
It was soon that the Black Sea embargo was removed and Ukraine started to export again. Today even though I am supporting Ukraine exports the most I am keeping my options / alternative options open to secure and keep stability of my company.
What this taught me was three major lessons:
- What ever happens if for the best reason, when my team left me, I felt broken but stayed calm with believe that it was for the best and it was to my advantage.
- Diversification is a key to any and all successful businesses.
- With your resilience and persistence you can fight any situation be it business, personal or life. The only condition is you have to believe in it completely and give your best at all times no matter what.