24.02.24

Two years on: Supporting displaced young Ukrainian entrepreneurs in Poland

The outbreak of the war in Ukraine in February 2022 has led to the destruction of livelihoods and the displacement of millions of Ukrainians, many of whom have fled to Poland for a chance to live in peace and safety. Two years ago, Youth Business International (YBI) pledged to work together with our network to create a framework where displaced Ukrainians could rebuild their lives and businesses and become self- reliant. Since then, we have been working closely with our member Youth Business Poland (YBP) to support young, displaced Ukrainians to start or re-start a business or enter employment through the BEST (Business Employability Skills Training) by Futuremakers project, funded by Standard Chartered Foundation. Today, we are reflecting on the impact the programme has made over the last two years and looking ahead to how we are going to continue our support.

One of the biggest challenges facing displaced Ukrainians who want to start a business in Poland is a lack of networks and familiarity with local business laws and regulations. To help them overcome this challenge, BEST by Futuremakers has created a supportive community of entrepreneurs and volunteer mentors, including Standard Chartered Bank Poland employees, who offer advice, guidance, and support with making new connections.

One of the young Ukrainian entrepreneurs who received support through the programme is Polina Khlibanovska. Polina ran an English-speaking kindergarten in Kyiv and was eager to re-open it in Warsaw. When she joined BEST by Futuremakers, Youth Business Poland provided her with practical information on how to open and run a kindergarten in Poland, including accounting and taxation. They also connected her with an expert in this field, who offered mentorship and advice on opportunities for her business. Polina says:

“Through BEST by Futuremakers, I received the advice of a lawyer and an accountant, and getting a mentor gave me even more strength. I found such great support that I just had to follow through with the decision to open a business in Poland.”

Polina Khlibanovska, Founder of Smart Kindergarten

In December 2022, Polina made her dream come true and opened Smart Kindergarten, an English-Polish-Ukrainian trilingual kindergarten where Polish and Ukrainian children meet and learn from each other.

Through monthly events, webinars, online discussions, business consultations, mentoring and business mixers, Youth Business Poland has provided support to 11,000 participants by the end of 2023. We are pleased to continue this support with a project extension until the end of June 2024 aiming to support a further 4700 participants. Building on the emergency support provided in the first phase of the project, the second phase will provide more tailored, targeted solutions for young entrepreneurs who have established their business in Poland and are looking to continue its sustainable growth.

As part of the extension, we are introducing an incubator programme for existing businesses into the project. It will support participants with creating and managing stable enterprises that can generate employment opportunities and grow dynamically. Upon completing the programme, participants will have the confidence and tools they need to turn their ideas into a thriving business, leaving them well-positioned for long-term success. Participants will receive intensive training in business management, followed by mentoring opportunities, enabling them to effectively implement the knowledge and skills gained throughout the programme’s duration.

YBI is committed to supporting young refugee and migrant entrepreneurs who face unique barriers and vulnerabilities in their host countries and are significantly disadvantaged in establishing their own businesses or seeking employment opportunities compared to their local counterparts. Learn more about our initiatives for refugees and migrant entrepreneurs, including BEST by FuturemakersSeeking Economic Empowerment and Resilience for Refugees and Migrants, and our Hackathon for displaced Ukrainian entrepreneurs in Poland

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