‘The shelves need to be stocked’: The Ukrainians who keep the economy running
Ohen Russian artillery began landing in Ukrainian cities on February 24, the country’s largest private courier company, Nova Poshta, was transformed almost overnight.
From delivering 1.5 million packages each day before the invasion, co-founder Inna Popereshnuyk said the 32,000-strong workforce is now focused on delivering medicine, food, documents, clothing and humanitarian aid donations to those most in need.
Mr Popereshnuyk said The Independent its thousands of couriers faced constant danger.
“You never know where a rocket or a shell will hit, where the bombardment will come from. But our employees are real Ukrainians, fighters and patriots. We are all very united today,” he said.
Mr Popereshnuyk’s business is one of thousands across Ukraine that have reorganized to help Ukraine’s economy continue to function amid the humanitarian horrors of the month-long war.
Where it used to take 24 hours to deliver a package, it now takes four to six days.
“The main difficulty is the overcrowded roads due to the checkpoints in each locality, the verification of the documents of the drivers and the goods, the broken bridges. Many main roads have been destroyed and new logistics routes must be found through the villages.
Night curfews prevent their cars from circulating in the evening and only 29 of its 141 sorting centers have been able to remain open. Queues often stretch to 200 people at pick-up points.
Employees have round-the-clock access to psychologists, and travel itineraries are updated in real time to avoid potential threats.
Like all businesses in Ukraine, Nova Poshta is suffering. But Mr Popereshnuyk says they now have a bigger goal.
“The economic repression of Ukraine is one of the tasks of the war against us. And we also have to fight against that. To save our economy and our people.
Since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, millions have fled their homes and thousands have taken up arms to join the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
With many parts of the country facing bombardment, dwindling food and medical supplies, and in some cases no power or water, businesses have been called upon to join in the effort. of war in every possible way.
As martial law was imposed on Ukraine in early March, alcohol sales were restricted and then banned in all towns and villages.
The decision was a blow to Ukrainian wine distributors and retailers Goodwine, but bigger problems were to arise.
On March 4, its main warehouse near kyiv was destroyed by Russian artillery.
Goodwine marketing director Mariia Oliinyk estimates they lost $16.5 million in inventory, including thousands of cases of Burgundy, Bordeaux and Champagne, as well as its national Ukrainian wines.
“We were shocked by this news,” Ms Oliinyk said. The Independent.
Goodwine has now dedicated its staff and distribution networks to delivering food to hospitals, territorial defense units and the Ukrainian military.
“Every day we deliver humanitarian cargo from our partners in Europe to Kyiv, Kharkiv, Sumy, Kherson, Mykolaiv, Chernhiv,” Ms Oliinyk said.
She said the adrenaline that carried Ukrainians through the first phase of the war had worn off and they now had to fight feelings of apathy.
“It becomes very difficult to believe in a better future. The ability to live a normal life, to work, to play sports, to eat well makes you feel good, makes you feel like yourself.
Roman Kvashenko, 46-year-old CEO of food production company TH Technology Trade, says the only way to deal with the stress of war is to stay constantly active.
His food technology company has 60 employees and, before the war, was involved in the production of vegan alternatives to ordinary staple foods.
Since the start of the invasion, their production facilities have been under bombardment and staff can only work when the bombs do not fall.
It’s dangerous work, but Mr Kvashenko says they take their role in feeding the country very seriously.
“The country needs food, supermarket shelves need to be filled,” he said. The Independent.
Bombs aside, the biggest hurdle they have faced since the start of the war is that their foreign suppliers have canceled the deferment of raw material payment and are demanding 100% upfront payment.
“We explained to all our customers the new realities of business, they explained it to the supermarkets and now everyone is working with minimal delay.”
Mr Kvashenko said he was trying to remain optimistic despite seeing so many of his compatriots suffer losses.
“My personal method for dealing with stress is to keep myself busy with work or volunteering. People have to work hard not to go crazy over this terrible war.