Grow sustainable business for Ukraine: global companies stay committed and are ready to be involved in the country’s reconstruction process
On November 29, 2023, the European Business Association and Global Business for Ukraine, together with UN Global Compact Network Poland supported by BASF Ukraine and BASF Poland hosted the business conference “Building a Sustainable Future: Ukrainian Business Trends and Perspectives”. The event took place in Warsaw and brought together representatives of Polish and Ukrainian business, international organizations and governmental communities to dive deeper into Ukraine’s economic environment, discuss challenges and opportunities of doing business in Ukraine during wartime, as well as define further steps that are crucial for sustainable reconstruction of the country’s economy and infrastructure.
While opening the conference, Katarzyna Byczkowska, Managing Director at BASF Polska, mentioned that from the first days of the full-scale war in Ukraine BASF was actively involved in supporting Ukrainian colleagues and their families by providing relocation assistance, organizing donation campaigns, etc. At the same time, BASF stayed in contact with all its Ukrainian customers to ensure business continuity. “We believe in Ukraine, and we will stay in Ukraine! And we think that it is very important to establish and facilitate the dialogue between different stakeholders to drive forward the country’s rebuilding activities,” said Katarzyna Byczkowska.
Anna Derevyanko, European Business Association Executive Director and Global Business for Ukraine Cofounder, shared trends, opportunities, and challenges of doing business in Ukraine during wartime. She also stated, “We do not know how long the war will continue. Although the situation in Ukraine may still contain military risks it is possible to do business here already now to keep the economic front of the country strong and resilient. We as EBA and GB4UA are ready to coordinate efforts between various businesses in Ukraine, Poland, and other neighboring countries to bring to our governments the best solutions that could be relevant for having smooth market cooperation.”
Kamil Wyszkowski, Executive Director of UN Global Compact Network Poland, mentioned that currently, he is cooperating with the UN UNOPS agency to support Ukraine’s rebuilding process. From the logistics perspective, Polish companies are much better positioned than the other neighboring countries, especially in the energy and construction sectors, which makes Poland an important sparring partner for Ukraine and puts it among the leading countries actively contributing to Ukraine’s reconstruction.
Cezary Urban, Head of BASF Agricultural Solutions in Ukraine, said that the company continues to develop the agricultural industry by actively training farmers, distributors, and their employees, as well as by bringing innovative crop protection products to the market. Still, there are some challenges, in particular, security, ensuring business continuity, and supporting the local team.
Katarzyna Kowalska, Deputy CEO at KUKE, highlighted that KUKE became the first institution that decided to ensure the trade and continue doing it on the same level as before the war. Despite an extremely challenging environment, Ukrainian businesses remain safe in terms of commercial risks – they continue their activities are ongoing, pay invoices, and invest in long-term cooperation. An additional plus is that the Ukrainian banking sector has very high liquidity. Still, there is a lot to be done in the future to attract private capital to Ukraine, thus facilitating investments in the country’s economy.
Grzegorz Oszast, Member of the Board, Polish Investment and Trade Agency, mentioned that PAIH is one of many organizations in Poland, that join their efforts to support local entrepreneurs and businesses in finding solutions with regard to future investments in Ukraine. This year turnover between Poland and Ukraine is over EUR 9 bln, which is a lot if compared with other countries. “Since the beginning of the war, we received more than 3000 requests from the companies to assist them in entering the Ukrainian market. Still, only a few of them have a real offer and are ready to invest. We need to have successful investment stories in Ukraine to convince Polish companies to bring money into the rebuilding of the country’s economy,” he said.
Tiberiu Dima, Managing Director at BASF Ukraine, shared his current observations on doing business in Ukraine. “After the start of full-scale aggression, all Ukrainian business community was immediately mobilized and focused on continuing business. We and other international companies operating in Ukraine also realized that this is time to prove that we as a business stand behind our values and as market leaders, we have our responsibility towards Ukraine, and we cannot just withdraw when trouble comes. Thus, there was no discussion about it – all my peers were aligned that the business should be continued as quickly as possible. And the priority was not making profit but making things running and keeping people safe,” said Tiberiu.
Michal Grzybowski, CEO of Philips Poland, made an outlook on the current situation of the company’s business in Ukraine. “For Philips people are very important, that is why we put safety of our employees in Ukraine as a priority. We also want to ensure that our company operates efficiently in Ukraine during wartime, as only this approach will allow us to provide Ukrainian citizens with the best solutions by Philips to support their health and help them in daily life. The current situation has shown that Ukrainians have great resilience and leadership skills, and not only on the battlefield! Today, despite the war and devaluation, the country is developing. Our business showed a double-digit growth similar to other parts of Europe – and it is a great inspiration for all of us, not only at Philips,” he said.
Dariusz Szymczycha, Vice President of the Polish-Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce, mentioned the positive dynamics of their members with regard to investing in Ukraine, which is proved by the active work of the Chamber in Ukraine. Many Polish businesses, in particular operating in the construction and logistics sectors, want to be involved in the rebuilding process. He also said that the Ukrainian entrepreneurial spirit often works as a positive motivation for Polish companies to grow.
Dariusz Kowalchyk-Tomerski, Vice-President at Columbus Energy, highlighted that his company is already investing in Ukraine. “Currently Ukraine works in the war economy environment. It is a very special situation, and we understand this and accept the risks. Our mission is to support our customers in this turbulent time. We also think that in the current situation, Ukraine needs not only access to finance (though it is very important) but also to technologies, know-how, technical expertise, innovative products and solutions, etc. Thus, supporting Ukraine is a good investment into the future of all of us,” he said.
During the discussion, all the speakers came to the joint conclusion that despite certain challenges there is huge potential in investing in Ukraine already now. For this, it is important to team up efforts and facilitate further dialogue with the key stakeholders in the process of economic rebuilding of Ukraine.