“Panic button” for women and a sorting robot: how Ukrainians open a business in Denmark and who helps them in this
Since the beginning of the full-scale war, European countries have accepted millions of Ukrainian refugees. More than 30,000 citizens found temporary shelter in Denmark. And although a part of Ukrainians returned home after more than a year of the great war, thousands of people still remain abroad. To help adapt to life in Denmark and feel like full members of the EU, the educational initiative for the Ukrainian community IVDK HUB, with the support and financing of the EU Social Fund, launched a business incubator for Ukrainians. The participants were people with radically different experience in entrepreneurship. Some of them already had a business in Ukraine, but lost it, and some came to the course only with an idea and a desire to implement it. “Ukrainian Pravda. Life” spoke with the founder of the n.cubator platform Dmytro Shvets and Ukrainians who became participants of the business incubator in Denmark. “The course is not even about business, but about broadening the horizons of Ukrainians.” Photo: n.cubator/Facebook The n.cubator program is a “journey” from a business idea to testing it in practice in the real world. The idea to create an environment for Ukrainians to study came from the Danes. The goal of the project is to give them the opportunity to support themselves in a new country. At the same time, a unique practical six-week course was developed at n.cubator. “It’s not even about business, but about broadening the horizons of Ukrainians – they (the Danes – ed.) saw how high their level of education, aspirations and diligence are, so they decided to do it. The idea is to teach Ukrainians entrepreneurial thinking and transform them from ” “liabilities” to “assets”, explains the founder of the platform. Shvets also added that the idea is not to “leave” Ukrainians in Denmark, but to provide knowledge, in particular, for successfully opening one’s own business in Ukraine, because with the help “Actions” can be done remotely. In total, more than 1,000 Ukrainians in Denmark have joined the IVDK HUB project, 235 of whom participate directly in the business incubator program. According to Dmytro, the participants have different experience in entrepreneurship. Some of them once had a business in Ukraine, however, lost, and some came to the course to implement the idea “from scratch”. “The idea of the project is to turn Ukrainians from “liabilities” into “assets”. Photo: IVDK HUB Three stories of Ukrainian entrepreneurship in Denmark The furniture business remained in the occupation Margarita and Volodymyr are a married couple from Melitopol, which is currently occupied by the Russians. The family moved to Copenhagen, Denmark last October. The couple has a 9-year-old daughter who is currently studying there at a local school. Before the full-scale war, Margarita worked as the chief accountant at one of the enterprises in Melitopol, and her husband had his own business for the production of cabinet furniture, however, the challenges of the full-scale war and the move forced her to adapt to life abroad. Now Margarita and her husband are planning to open their own business in Denmark. “My husband and I do not yet work in Denmark. We want to start a furniture production here,” says the woman. According to her, they learned about the business project for Ukrainians from an announcement on the social network, and decided to join. Margarita admits that the practical skills acquired in the program really help her prepare for opening a furniture manufacturing company in Denmark. The couple plans to launch the production of kitchen furniture and wardrobes. “We haven’t opened our own business yet, now we’re just on the way to launching our business. We’re studying local laws, principles of work… And the business project helps us a lot in this, we learned a lot of useful information on the course,” says Margarita. The woman admits that currently the most difficult thing on the way to achieving the goal is overcoming the language barrier. In total, more than 1,000 Ukrainians in Denmark joined the IVDK HUB project. Read also: War is not an obstacle. Experience of female entrepreneurs An analogue of the “panic button” for women Natalia Feldman is another Ukrainian who became a participant of the business incubator. The woman was born in Kyiv and moved to Israel in the 90s. In 2004, Nataliya returned to her hometown, and began working in the field of development of telecommunications construction in Ukraine, engaged in communications with government offices. She also lived for some time in Lviv, Kalush and Ivano-Frankivsk. In the latter, she met her husband, who worked in the field of construction for agriculture. Natalia’s family moved to Denmark in 2013. The couple is currently raising three children there. “We live in Jelling – the birthplace of the Vikings. Here I received a Danish education in corporate sales and worked as a consultant for the development of business strategy and sales in international organizations with ties to Ukraine. Thanks to my knowledge of 5 languages and experience gained during work in army, I have a unique opportunity to effectively communicate and work with colleagues from different countries,” the Ukrainian woman shares. Her family’s house became a shelter for Ukrainian immigrants during the full-scale war. During the year, 19 compatriots who were forced to leave Ukraine because of the Russian invasion lived with her. “In parallel with my main job, I worked in a refugee center for Ukrainians. In my house during the year of the war, 19 people lived at different times, until we helped them recover and stand on their own feet. Some of them have already returned to Ukraine, but we became as a family and in contact with them all the time. Thus, we have new families,” says Nataliya. The woman joined the educational program, having specific experiences – she started the FrejaTech company. The startup of her team, which includes four more Ukrainians, is a system for the safety of women and quick communication with relatives in case of an unforeseen situation. “We can boast of the success of our idea. Our startup won the prize for the best business idea among 25 Danish men at an electronics exhibition. We also made it to the finals of the Hackathon in Israel, where we discussed ideas to combat domestic violence. We received a grant from the European Space The agency is ESA, an analogue of NASA in Europe,” Natalya tells about the success of her project. The system includes a physical device – an analogue of a “panic button”, as well as an application, in which users can enter the contact details of those who can become an auxiliary person who will receive a corresponding signal in the event of an unforeseen situation. The system developed by the FrejaTech team “We have created a group of trusted people who are relatives or friends of those who need help and are close to them. The main goal of our project is not to replace the police, but to reduce the waiting time to receive help. People who are not under stress or moral shock can think strategically and contact those who can provide physical help,” the Ukrainian woman explains the importance of the invention and adds that the physical communication button can work through the phone , communication antenna or satellite. According to Natalia, this initiative is aimed specifically at women. Moreover, Natalia’s team has ambitious plans to enter the Ukrainian market and open an office in the Motherland, so it is currently looking for investors. Read also: “It all started out of desperation”: how Ukrainian women create projects abroad Automated sorting of vegetables Yevhen Tyurev is a Ukrainian from the city of Pryluka, Chernihiv region. He moved to Denmark with his family long before the start of the war – in 2006. At that time, the only possibility to legally work in the country was agriculture, so for a long time the man worked on plant and animal farms. “In 2015, the circumstances that arose at work prompted me to start moving on. I decided that I didn’t want to do this anymore, so I went to study. But at the same time, I was working,” Yevhen says. He studied English at a Danish school for a year and a half and renewed his knowledge of mathematics in order to enter the university, because “the education systems of Ukraine and Denmark are slightly different.” In 2020, Yevhen graduated with a bachelor’s degree in engineering and robotics, after which he got a job in one of the Danish companies. The man joined the educational program in order to implement his idea – a project related to the automation of one of the vegetable sorting and packaging factories with the help of robots equipped with software using artificial intelligence. “This is the company where I worked when I was a student. About 300 workers are involved in the work there, and 150 of them pack and sort vegetables manually. My idea is to make this process fully automated,” the man says. Yevhen’s startup is automated sorting and packaging of vegetables using robots and artificial intelligence. Photo: iakovenko123/Depositphotos He adds that the training helped him understand where to move next and how to work with potential clients. As Yevhen said, he has already managed to do the technical part of the project and the simulation, but he is not in a hurry to reveal all the details, because the project has not yet been patented. The man admits that the development of such a technique is not cheap, but in the long run it can significantly reduce the costs of potential customers, taking into account the fact that the hourly wage of workers at such enterprises in Denmark is approximately 20 euros on average. Yevhen also admits that the greatest difficulties arise against the background of the special specifics of working with clients, because “for cooperation, it is necessary to build relationships.” “Potential customers may be interested in buying a product today, but they don’t want to be involved in product development. It’s a difficult process, when you meet and show the possibilities, it takes time. But it also helps to see what resources can be brought to the development of the product.” – emphasizes Yevhen. Read also: It will help to learn a new profession from scratch: the Ministry of Digital has launched the “Action. Education” platform. Why do they train Ukrainians who want to start their own business in Denmark? According to the founder of n.cubator, almost all ideas with which Ukrainians joined the educational program are not technological. This is “ordinary business” and it is not necessarily physical, because it is now possible to sell goods and services via the Internet. Shvets singled out three main categories of ideas that course participants strive to implement: multifaceted food on the street – opening of restaurants, coffee shops, fast food, street food, cafes or restaurants of Ukrainian cuisine, bakeries, etc.; services: from digital marketing, work with social networks, planning communication strategies to coaching (from the English coaching – coaching, mentoring), psychological help, association for women, support of citizens in finding Ukrainians abroad, tourist services – in particular, promotion of Ukrainian places , where foreigners can travel now and after the end of the war; production and sale of a variety of food, clothing and jewelry. Almost all ideas of Ukrainians who joined the educational program are not technological. Photo: IVDK HUB Main approaches The principle on which the six-week course of the program is based is to teach conscious entrepreneurship through action. All participants first undergo practice at the training, then receive homework and, according to a similar principle, work on creating their own business, receive feedback and answers to questions that interest them. During the course, participants will not only learn, but step by step will start their own businesses with the support of professional consultants, teachers and mentors. All modules are structured in this way: project participants receive a very short theory with instruction, and then break into groups, do exercises on creating a synthetic company that is potentially similar to their own – simulating the creation of businesses. Scroll the slider to read a description of each of the program’s modules.
Dmytro called one of the most positive moments the possibility of unity of Ukrainians in Denmark, because they were able to come and see that they have like-minded people who are looking for ways to develop. “If there are 100 people and each of them has an average of 10 years of experience, then it turns out to be 1,000 years of experience,” notes the founder of the platform. Diana Krechetova, “Ukrainian truth. Life” Cover photo: IVDK HUB
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