Since the beginning of the war, LifeLine Ukraine has delivered 30 trucks worth of humanitarian aid to the hard-to-reach areas in Eastern Ukraine for a total value of well over 3.5 million EURO. LifeLine also supports 3 hospitals in Mykolaiv, Chernigiv, and Zmiev, and 6 NGOs in Ukraine. Till the end of January 2023, LifeLine Ukraine will send another 20 trucks of humanitarian aid.
This summer, LifeLine Ukraine also started supporting Ukrainian women-owned businesses. We help with micro-finance, equipment supplies, with creating access to EU markets, and with business mentoring. And we do this on a pro-bono and voluntary basis.
We selected 11 Ukrainian small women-owned businesses that produce fruits and vegetables, honey, grow flowers, bake bread, produce natural cosmetics, produce restaurant ingredients, make glassware, table linen, candles, baskets, and run farms.
As a first result, 7 of the 11 companies will see their products on the Dutch market still this year, 5 of the 11 companies received equipment grants and micro-loans, and 2 of the companies already visited The Netherlands to have their first international business meetings. All 11 companies got access to Dutch know-how, business networks, and partners. We are also in the process of creating a website matching Ukrainian women-owned businesses with Dutch or EU companies and entrepreneurs.
When you buy a basket, you do not only support the financial side of these businesses. This project also allows the companies to gain experience in exporting to the EU and selling on EU markets.
The war also affects small and medium sized businesses in Ukraine. Most entrepreneurs battle on courageously, but they experience a deep level of depression, and many are close to burn-out. They are occupied with short-term crisis management and have developed tunnel vision with a sole view on day-to-day survival. They find it hard to prioritise and get organized. They suffer from supply chain disruptions, sales channel disruptions, and direct losses and damage caused by destruction of production assets, by the occupation, and by forced evacuations or voluntary relocation.
But! The entrepreneurs stay resilient and hopeful and continue looking for ways out of the wartime crisis.
To survive during the war and get ready to thrive after the war these women entrepreneurs understand that they should start to build business bridges to the EU market. And building bridges, is what you help them to do by buying the basket!
Regular humanitarian aid is important, right now. However, building business bridges between Ukraine and the EU, is important for the future, as it has a long-lasting effect by supporting Ukrainian businesses to survive during the war and thrive after the war. For Ukraine, this creates jobs and livelihoods, supports the economy, strengthens the middle class, develops civil society, integrates its economy with the EU economy, and opens the door to a self-sufficient and dignified future for Ukrainians. The wartime and generic challenges I highlighted are real. But, together we can easily overcome these challenges, and when we do, we will unlock a whole new level of Ukrainian business potential that will be the best way towards integration with EU markets, and societies. We have a responsibility to work hard on this, as it will help speed up a future victory, and a lasting peace.
All the proceeds of the sales of the baskets will go directly to the Ukrainian companies.