Volodymyr Skosogorenko, granulated garlic

Veteran Volodymyr Skosogorenko has received funds to expand production of processing garlic into paste and fermented black garlic  —  into spices, sauces and single-use stacks.

“Tell me, do you like to chop garlic and then wash that garlic press, clean it with a toothpick? No? In our business, it was important to find the pain point and solve it. We have found it – we free people from washing garlic presses,” Volodymyr says with a smile about his business.

Volodymyr Skosohorenko defended Ukraine in 2014-2015 in the Luhansk region. After discharging the military service, he began to look for himself and started studying psychology in order to help himself and others. In particular, he now volunteers as a psychologist working with wounded military personnel and those who are undergoing rehabilitation.

He decided to go into business because he wanted to earn money… to help combatants with psychological rehabilitation and to fund projects aimed to provide psychological rehabilitation to veterans of the Russian-Ukrainian war and their families.

Volodymyr shares that his own business started for him out of certain interest: how he can apply his combat skills in entrepreneurship? And now he confidently tells everyone that it is necessary to do business with veterans, if only because they want to make the product better, useful and with better quality.

How did it all begin? With his veteran friends, Volodymyr was looking for his business niche for a long time, and then he remembered that he had his two legal hectares of land, which he had leased to a farmer. This farmer grew garlic on that land.

Volodymyr invited him to talk and realized that this was it. So in 2021, he started his own business. His team consisted of several veterans. Later, Volodymyr Skosogorenko began studying the plant in more detail and realized that it was a veteran product.

He says: “There are a lot of hypertensives in the army, and garlic lowers blood pressure and has many other useful properties.”

After February 24th, almost all of Volodymyr’s brothers went to the front, and due to the injuries he received in 2014-2015, he was told to keep home front and create new jobs for them, so that there would be somewhere to return to after the Victory.

Now Volodymyr is dealing with the information front, monitoring the mental state of volunteers, and when everything more or less normalized, he continued to develop the “garlic” business. Volodymyr is currently working on two areas — creating small batches of the garlic paste and spices from fermented black garlic. He says that garlic, like lard, is a superfood.

“What is my dream? I want to see empty packaging from our products in the garbage!”, – shares the veteran. — “And if globally, then after filling Vinnytsia and all of Ukraine with our garlic products, I`m going to enter the international market as well.”

Volodymyr motivates with his thoughts: “In business, the idea is not so important, because there are many ideas floating in the air, but they often disappear, because there was no necessary knowledge for implementation. It is important to understand. Because when we started, we focused on one market, but it didn’t work. Then we changed the vector and everything began working. The main thing is stubbornness.”

Serhiy Svyrydenko, farmer, Eco Farm “Kozatske Podvirya”

After returning from the ATO zone in 2016, veteran Serhiy Svyrydenko founded the Eco Farm “Kozatske Podvirya” in  Ivanopil’a village in Donetsk region.

He raised a herd of goats there and made craft meat delicacies and fragrant cheeses.   But on February 24th, active hostilities came close to his settlement. The market stopped functioning, and the conditions for raising animals became difficult.  

Therefore, the man decided to move a thousand kilometers from home with 150 goats, equipment and machinery.  

Until 2014, Serhiy Svyrydenko had lived in Donetsk. Because of Russian “tourists” and “guest performers”, the situation became very tense, and Serhiy’s whole family went to the country house in the Ivanopillia village, Kostiantyniv district, “for two weeks”, which remained on the controlled territory. And it turned out that they had been staying there for 8 years.  

When Serhii realized that they would not return home in two weeks, he went to the Military Commissariat. He served in the 54th brigade as an artilleryman for a year and a half. He fought on the Svitlodar Arc. After the demobilization, he founded a goat farm in Ivanopillia.  

Serhii Svyridenko says: “What can you do in the village except farming? Everyone has cows, but only a few have goats. Firstly we bought seven ordinary goats. Then we began to learn what and to what. Then we ordered the first elite goat from Germany. And so it all slowly turned around.”  

At the same time, the man started making meat delicacies from pork. In 2017, they received a grant from the NGO “Ukrainian Donetsk Kurkul’” and built a mini-cheese factory at a price of 1 million hryvnias.   Meat delicacies and cheeses were sold in local shops, fairs and online. Things were going well. For example, in 2021, goods were sold for 4.9 million hryvnias. They were preparing to increase the volume of production and sales.  

But on February 24th, a large-scale war began and destroyed all plans. In spring airstrikes occurred in Ivanopillia. Since May, gas has disappeared in the village. And then the Russians shot up the pumping station, so people were also left without water.  

Serhiy’s farm had its own well. He says he could survive in the village on his own, but keeping livestock became increasingly difficult due to water and feed shortages.  

The man no longer believed that everything would pass in “a couple of weeks”, because he had the experience from 2014. Therefore, Serhiy Svyrydenko decided to leave the village for a more peaceful area. It was not easy to transport such a large herd.  

“I had no choice: either the goats will die of hunger in Ivanopillia, or we will move and I will be able to find feed for them. That is why I had been traveling around Ukraine since July, looking for places to move. Somewhere on television there was a program about my farm. Volyn businessman Ivan Bud had watched it. He invited me to his old farm in Volyn,” says the man.  

So, at the beginning of September, Serhiy Svyridenko hired a cattle driver. He loaded equipment, a tractor, and machinery onto the first floor, and 150 goats onto the second floor. He took two employees and products ready for sale and set off.  

The goats have already settled in the new place. Although it was not easy: a different climate, grass. Serhii says that many animals fell ill, six died. But currently the situation has more or less stabilized. Equipping of the farm is still going.

Victoria Tkach, Slice&dry’s

Active volunteering, teaching tactical medicine courses in 2014, participation in war in 2015, a successful start of her own business and war again – this is the story of Victoria Tkach, a veteran entrepreneur who won the #VARTO competition organized by the Ukrainian Veterans Foundation Ministry of Veterans Affairs of Ukraine.

Victoria says, “The history of my own business began in 2018 when, as a volunteer, I began to study at the Kyiv School of Economics in order to return to civilian life and be able to work for myself. After receiving a grant in the amount of 25 thousand hryvnias, we purchased equipment and, having knowledge, how to develop a startup, got on the difficult road of business…”

At the front, Victoria did not eat meat, so her mother sent her dried vegetables and fruits, made with her own hands. That’s how the idea appeared to make nutritious dry goods, which would be useful for those who fight, go to the mountains, and for everyone who needs to take something not so heavy but with high energy value on the road. Initially, the business was to be called “Kus’”, but it was launched as Slice&dry’s.

Currently, her manufacturing deals with the drying fruits, vegetables, mushrooms and meat.

“Our products are popular among people who spend most of their time outside their personal comfort zone, their home, namely athletes, rescuers, military, doctors, police, tourists, climbers, and all of them are united by love for healthy food and respect to their health,” says the veteran.

With the beginning of a full-scale invasion, requests from the military increased 5 times. And therefore the capacity could no longer cope with the requests from customers, so the received money will be used to increase the capacity and expand the staff.

Victoria shares: “For me, this business is an opportunity to have something of my own and give the family another segment that will unite it. I see how my relatives are working on this project, and I am happy. I can see they like it. They talk about our case and joke about it all the time.”

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