A workshop where glass and bullets are melted: how veterans develop business

Andrii Nesmachnyi, a veteran with ten years of experience, active military officer and founder of the Batart craft workshop, talks about the veteran’s path in the military and in civilian life; the need to create with his own hands and the opening of the workshop; the war and the reopening of the workshop in Irpin.

Personal archive of Andrii Nesmachnyi

This is where glass is melted and bullet glasses are blown. Here, belts are sewn and knives are sharpened. Here they weave symbolic bracelets from paracord.

It is here that eight veterans and active military personnel take off their armor, LBVs, and uniforms, put away their automatic rifles, and put on their work aprons.

In their workshop, they are recuperating from the frontline. For them, it is not just a job or a hobby – it is rehabilitation and the magical ability of craft to heal.

Personal archive of Andrii Nesmachnyi

For each other, they are not just colleagues. These men have created their own veteran community where understanding and support flourish. Together they rejoice in their own victories, together they experience the losses of their loved ones.

The founder of the veterans’ charity workshop, Andrii Nesmachnyi, is a veteran with 10 years of experience, a serving military officer and one of the winners of our contest program #VARTO: Skillful Hands.

Personal archive of Andrii Nesmachnyi

Read about the veteran’s path in the military and in civilian life, the need to create with their own hands and the opening of the workshop, about the war and the reopening of the workshop in Irpin in Andrii Nesmachnyi’s interview for the Dzerkalo Tyzhnia.

Veteran Serhiy Shvets has his own… ostrich farm! And Serhiy also won in the #VARTO DO YOUR OWN competitive program.

Now the entrepreneur will receive funds and replenish his “Savannah” with four families of exotic birds.Today, the “Savanna” farm in Prykarpattia is well known to tourists. People come from different parts of Ukraine to see slender and strong African ostriches. Here, the Shvetsy family created all the conditions for the birds. But the path to this was not easy.

🔶 Construction lasted for 5 years. The plot of land where the farm is located was inherited by Serhiy from his grandfather, and later the veteran received another 2 hectares from the state.The veteran’s ostrich farm developed. They were breeding birds, egg production, tourism, and even making unique Easter ostrich eggs. This is the place where adults and children come to learn more about ostriches: how much do they weigh? What do they eat? What do little ostriches look like?

💬 “This is a very beautiful, exotic bird. This is one of the reasons why we chose this type of agriculture. It is very interesting to watch them. The ostrich is the largest bird in the world. Tourists love our birds. And the ostriches themselves are very inquisitive and like to come into contact with people,” Serhiy says about his business.

However, the story of a successful business turned into a story of a business that survived the war. After February 24, 2022, the income decreased significantly and the very existence of the farm was threatened.Business needed a chance, an opportunity for development. The Ukrainian Veterans Foundation of the Ministry of Veterans Affairs of Ukraine helped Serhiy in this.

💬 “I don’t know how we could cope with these challenges by ourselves. To reach the level of at least 2021, we would need several years. And thanks to such support, we will be able not only to restore previous capacities but also to develop and scale up”, – the veteran shares his experience.

With the funds received, Serhiy has already purchased a truck in order to carry out economic matters faster and more efficiently and later plans to purchase 4 breeding families of African ostriches and build a separate unit for them. Business works, the main thing is not to stand still, but to move forward.We know that the fields of activities of our veterans are very diverse and we are ready to support any ideas of veteran business.

Participate and strengthen the foundation of your own business: https://lnkd.in/dFhM_MFt

Photo from the personal archive of Serhiy Shvets.

Oleksandr Holopoteliuk, takeaway pizzeria VETERANO PIZZA 

Oleksandr Holopoteliuk  is a veteran, an owner of the “Veterano Pizza ” pizzeria in Odesa.

Oleksandr has been fighting since 2014 in the 28th Mechanized Brigade.

After being wounded and demobilized, he decided to open his own business. But before that, he received a relevant economic education.

The veteran bought a pizzeria and became the owner of the Veterano Pizza franchise in Odesa. As a new stage of business, Oleksandr planned to open another pizzeria.

Therefore, he applied for a competitive program from the UVF. Oleksandr says that he plans to supply the products to hospitals and hospitals for the wounded for free. He is also going to employ veterans and members of their families. 

The veteran will spend the funds received from the Ukrainian Veterans Foundation on the necessary equipment for the new cafe: an oven, refrigeration equipment, a dough bowl, etc.

Anton Brostovsky, “Dragon Land” children’s amusement park

The passion for Japanese culture grew into something bigger. The veteran is planning to build a children’s amusement park “Dragon Land”.

Anton Brostovskyi is one of the winners of the #VARTO competition program from the Ukrainian Veterans Foundation of the Ministry of Veterans Affairs of Ukraine.

In 2014, he became a volunteer and took part in the ATO in the East of Ukraine. Then he joined the ranks of the Armed Forces. And in 2016 Anton returned and joined the family business.

The veteran expanded the wood production his father established. They started with decorative furniture, wooden stairs, then gazebos, and now they are building amusement parks. Anton’s last project, “Gyurgivska fortress” in the city of Bila Tserkva, won the competition for funding from the public budget. The fortress was supposed to be opened in the spring of 2022.

However, with the first explosions on February 24, Anton and his younger brother went to the military unit. The parents continued the project. Anton is the head of the medieval club “Gyurgiv” (the ancient name of Bila Tserkva). He embodied all his knowledge and skills in the idea of creating a children’s entertainment interactive and educational park “Dragon Land”.

Exactly this project will be financially supported by the Ukrainian Veterans Foundation.

“We submitted a project idea and we won. We already had experience in such a business. Anton participated in public procurements and tenders as a sole proprietor. The main thing was to stay within the allocated funds, to explain everything carefully and to agree in advance with the suppliers to fix the prices because they are growing quickly,” says the veteran’s mother, Iryna.

Financial support will be mainly used to purchase building materials. It is worth noting that the implementation of the project involves the creation of additional jobs.

While, according to Iryna, creative people also participate in the creation of the park on a volunteer basis. Japanese culture and architecture are dear to Anton Brostovsky’s heart. This project is a real rarity for the Ukrainian market. This is so original.

Oleksandr Chub, “Strokati Yenoty”

In 2014 Oleksandr Chub joined the ranks of the 2nd battalion of the National Guard of Ukraine, and then joined the newly formed Ukrainian Volunteer Corps.

In the battles for the Donetsk airport, he received a serious leg injury. Doctors said that Alexander would have to use crutches for the rest of his life. But he did not put up with it and recovered almost completely. During the rehabilitation, the veteran got the idea of a business with an important social mission.

As Oleksandr told in an interview with Hromadske radio: “The idea of the “Strokati Yenoty” (“Motley raccoons” in English) children’s camp came to me during a long rehabilitation after receiving a serious injury. I got to the USA, and there I cycled 10,000 kilometers. During the rehabilitation process and travelling around the country, I received so much kindness and support from other people, that I wanted somehow to thank the world for treating me this way.”

Publisher Vladyslav Kyrychenko supported Oleksandr’s idea. He provided the territory of the “Kuznia” Youth Movement Center in Unezh to host an adventure children’s camp. To realize his vision, Oleksandr Chub gathered a large team of volunteers, which provided assistance to volunteer veterans and families of the fallen defenders.

Oleksandr studied a lot, he tried different formats of fundraising for his business. In particular, he enlisted the support of the Ministry of Veterans Affairs and the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Ukraine for his “Strokati Yenoty” children’s camp. Later on, he was able to launch a full-fledged veteran business.
“This project not only brings income and satisfaction but also gives an opportunity for self-realization. I made it profitable, independent of any external grants. The most important thing is the desire to do something interesting, to share It with the kids,” Oleksandr Chub told Ukrainianer.

“Strokati Yenoty” adventure camp has become the place where children from all over Ukraine dream of going. The first visitors to the camp were the children of the fallen and wounded defenders of the battalion where Oleksandr once served.

“Strokati Yenoty” overturned the idea of ordinary children camps with its compulsion and boring programs. Here, children are taught to be active and independent. But, of course, there are certain rules of the so-called game that they should follow so that it wouldn’t turn into chaos. These rules include, for example, sorting garbage, speaking without any swear words and only in Ukrainian with maximum live communication possible.

Children play sports, travel, have different creative activities and communicate with each other a lot. The camp is designed to encourage children’s desire to learn more about the world and lead an active life.
Oleksandr pays special attention to his “motley team” of the camp. Those who want to camp with children must first organize a class or an event for them. And only then, if they can get on the same level with children, without building any hierarchies, then they get into the team of instructors.
“Strokati Yenoty” is a social project that became a business, but remained true to the values and goals that were set at the beginning.

Nowadays, Oleksandr Chub rejoined the ranks of the defenders of Ukraine, doing everything possible to bring Victory, so after that, the Ukrainian children will once again have happy childhoods with lots of trips and adventures.

Serhiy Lugerya, production of animal feed and fuel pellets

Support your own. This is the goal veteran Serhiy Lugerya sets himself. He will increase the power of his village community and local production through his own business.

Veteran Serhiy has won the #VARTO competition from the Ukrainian Veteran Foundation. He will develop his own business for the production of animal feed and fuel pellets in the Moshni village and in Cherkasy region.

The man started entrepreneurship after returning from the war. He went to the front in 2015. He was the chief sergeant of the reconnaissance platoon of the mechanized battalion of the 128th brigade. He returned home after being wounded near Debaltseve.

But now he is again in the Ukrainian Armed Forces defending our country. Serhiy does not want to mention the combat operations from 2015. There is a place in his memory only for pleasant memories – new acquaintances, support of relatives and help of volunteers. And there is no time to talk about the current battles.

The main goal of Serhiy Lugery’s project is to provide the village population with cheaper animal feed and fuel pellets of local production, as well as village and community development. That is why he will purchase the material and technical base for farming with money from the Foundation.

The veteran says: “As a result of the project implementation, the farm will reduce the costs of technological services, because they will be provided at lower prices than now. It will also provide feed and fuel pellets to local industries at a lower cost, thanks to the development of local production. New jobs will be created. Especially for veterans. And all this, in turn, will ensure the sustainable development of our village community…”

Serhiy Lugerya intends to sell his products not only in the territory of Moshny village, but also in the nearest villages of the Cherkasy district, thereby providing the region with animal feed and fuel pellets of his own production.

Natalya Gumba, mother of the fallen hero, visual content production

Once again, we get convinced by how strong people are our winners of the #VARTO program. A great example of this is Natalya Gumba, the mother of the fallen defender Astamur Gumba.

Astamur was born in Abkhazia, a territory of Georgia which was occupied by Russia. So he lived most of his life in Ukraine. He joined the ranks of the Territorial Defense Forces on the first day of the full-scale Russian invasion.

He first fought in the Kyiv region, in the city of Irpin, then he went to the eastern front. Unfortunately, Astamur died on June 28 near the village of Dementiivka, Dergachiv district, Kharkiv region.

But even after this tragic event, Natalya did not get despaired. She showed her personal strength and decided to honor her son’s memory, Natalya founded the Astamur Gumba Peace Fund. It is planned that the Foundation will unite those who study conflicts and will explore the possibilities of overcoming conflicts that take millions of lives and often simmer for years; the Fund will be engaged in the research of conflicts in Southeast and Eastern Europe.

Natalya is an international journalist. In the summer of 2014, she and a team of like-minded people organized the photo exhibition “Donbas: War and Peace”, which at the time was exhibited in the European Parliament. Therefore, she knows how important the information component is in the Russian-Ukrainian war.

Natalya is the winner of the first competitive program #VARTO from the Ukrainian Veterans Foundation of the Ministry of Veterans Affairs of Ukraine. With the help of the funds received from the UVF, she plans to produce visual content, for example, social advertising promoting the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Natalia is going to use the help for the acquisition of technical equipment, training in video making, editing, etc. It should become, according to Ms. Natalia’s plan, a full-fledged production studio with professional equipment, lighting, etc.

“Yes, my son died. But in a virtual sense, his life goes on. Therefore, this project is also his project. And we have to keep his memory alive,” says Natalya.

We support the strong. We make the strong stronger. The story of Mrs. Natalia, who lost her son in the war, but did not lose her yearning for victory, and she shows it so vividly.

Oleksandr Morozov, Clean Shot

At the age of 25, Oleksandr Morozov patented oil napkins for cleaning weapons. The need for such invention was dictated by his own combat experience.

“Once in 2015 I had to use my wounded comrade’s weapon for two weeks, because I did not have the opportunity to clean my machine gun. There was simply nothing. Then it occurred to me that something practical and reliable was needed,” says Oleksandr Morozov, who served in the ranks of the 95th Air Assault Brigade in the beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian war.

During the battles, in addition to the pollution that occurs as a result of intense shooting, dirt also sticks to weapons. Therefore, after the assault, the weapon becomes unusable, it needs to be cleaned. But the opportunity to do this often does not exist.

Oleksandr Morozov’s invention was designed to solve this pressing need of our servicemen. Now Clean Shot is the only Ukrainian manufacturer of oil-based napkins for cleaning weapons.

Oleksandr Morozov’s product has already managed to win the favor of the Ukrainian sector of national security and defense and international partners.

Reviews are only positive. The need for such napkins for our Defense Forces is only growing: intensive combat operations, assaults, and counter-offensives are ongoing for the liberation of Ukrainian land. Weapons must be loaded and clean.

“The transition of the Ukrainian Armed Forces to new weapons creates a demand for the improvement and expansion of means for cleaning both small arms and heavy weapons. Therefore, for production processes, we need to purchase additional equipment that will allow not only to expand, but also to reduce the cost of final products”, — Oleksandr Morozov comments on the plans for the development of his veteran business.

In addition, in the future it is planned to provide volunteer organizations and military personnel with free tools for cleaning weapons.

There are two ways to do this: investment by the enterprise and the opportunity for retail buyers to make a donation in the form of napkins for the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Kateryna Priymak, ‘’Veteranka’’ sewing workshop

The number of women in the Ukrainian army is one of the largest in the world. According to various data sources, there are from 40 to 70 thousand female military personnel in the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Each of them needs a female uniform.  

The Ukrainian Women Veteran Movement, in conjunction with representatives of the Ukrainian fashion industry, opened a shop for tailoring women’s military uniforms.  

Kateryna Pryimak, one of the leaders of the Ukrainian Women Veteran Movement, says that girls began to address the problem—they received male uniforms that did not suit them at all. In order to solve this problem, they began to sew uniforms on their own.  

The first batch of 50 uniform sets has already been sent to the defenders. And in order to help in the future, they turned to the Ukrainian Veterans Foundation.  

“Our workshop needed support for our development because the potential is huge. Talented people work here, but there is little equipment, and it is not all that professional. Therefore, we’ve sent a project to the Ukrainian Veterans Foundation for the promotion of a sewing workshop. We plan that the workshop will continue its volunteer activities. “We also want to create a civilian clothing line, which we hope will profit us,” Kateryna Pryimak says of her plans.  

The workshop intends to obtain new sewing machines with the help of funds from the UVF. The co-founders want to establish their own full-fledged production. Their goal is to provide jobs to female veterans so that they will be able to acquire a new profession after the victory of Ukraine.

Two lines of clothing are planned to be tailored under the Veteranka TM: military and designer. Currently, they continue to sew essential items such as uniforms, T-shirts and underwear.

Ivan Pavlish, agricultural drones

Ivan Pavlish will use drones both on the battlefield and while working on the land. He is a veteran and recently won the #VARTO contest

Ivan will receive funding for his own business – agricultural drones.  Before the ATO, the veteran worked as a judge’s assistant. He planned to continue working in law. But after demobilization, he began to grow soybeans and wheat, so Ivan became a farmer.  

“I was inspired by the idea of starting my own business. I saw trends and realized that agriculture is a promising industry, especially in Ukraine. Besides, I have a friend who is engaged in farming. He has his own land plot and the equipment,” says the veteran.

Ivan knows how to properly organize the process, he has the necessary project management skills. After his participation in the ATO, he obtained an economic education and graduated from the Norwegian University with a specialization in “Project Management”.

Ivan also took part in a special course for veterans that was held at the Kyiv School of Economics. 

“Many people think that a farmer is someone who always has his hands up to their elbows in mud or turning nuts on a tractor. But modern farming is the same business as any other, the same algorithms operate there,” Ivan explains.  

The veteran tried to grow sweet potatoes and planned to reach a commercial level of production. However, on February 25, he was already in the military unit. “During the second mobilization, I was partly involved in aerial reconnaissance and work with drones. At the courses, I met a guy who, in addition to having experience in aerial reconnaissance, was also involved in agricultural drones. I became highly interested in it,” that’s how the idea arose, It was financially supported by the Ukrainian Veterans Foundation.  

No crop can be grown without spraying. Plants need fertilizers, protection from pests and proper treatment.

Ivan Pavlish describes such advantages of agrodrones: 

  • They can work in hard-to-reach areas
  • They accurately apply plant protection products
  • They help to decrease water consumption 
  • They do not leave tracks, etc.

“You make a map of the field, and the drone automatically calculates its routes, calculates how much time it needs, and returns itself to refuel or replace the battery. The most autonomous thing, which greatly facilitates the work of the farmer,” the veteran shares his experience.

Ivan plans to spend the funds from the UVF on drones, additional equipment for them, as well as for the training of two more operators. 

“According to the terms of the project, I have to hire two more workers. I plan to hire veterans with relevant experience. If they have combat experience, they can definitely handle agrodrones. But It is necessary to pay for the appropriate courses for them. I will also be able to make good money if I provide services to neighbouring farms. They are already interested. I hope that I will be able to organize everything,” concludes the veteran entrepreneur.  

Ivan will transfer 5% of his own profit to a charity fund that organizes training for combat drone pilots.

Банківські реквізити:

Український ветеранський фонд
ЄДРПОУ 44565396
МФО 820172
в Державна казначейська служба України м. Київ

Реквізити підприємства/ Company details Назва підприємства/ company Name УВФ IBAN Code UA863052990000025300015000517
Назва банку/ Name of the bank JSC CB “PRIVATBANK”, 1D HRUSHEVSKOHO STR., KYIV, 01001, UKRAINE
SWIFT code банку/Bank SWIFT Code PBANUA2X
Адреса підприємства/ Company address UA 01001 м Київ пров Музейний б.12
Банки кореспонденти/ Correspondent banks Рахунок у банку-кореспонденті/Account in the correspondent bank 001-1-000080
SWIFT Code банку-кореспондента/SWIFT Code of the correspondent bank CHASUS33
Банк-кореспондент/Correspondent bank JP Morgan Chase Bank, New York ,USA
Рахунок у банку-кореспонденті/Account in the correspondent bank 890-0085-754
SWIFT Code банку-кореспондента/SWIFT Code of the correspondent bank IRVT US 3N
Банк-кореспондент/Correspondent bank The Bank of New York Mellon, New York, USA
Реквізити підприємства/ Company details Назва підприємства/company Name УВФ IBAN Code UA453052990000025302035000647
Назва банку/Name of the bank JSC CB “PRIVATBANK”, 1D HRUSHEVSKOHO STR., KYIV, 01001, UKRAINE
SWIFT code банку/ Bank SWIFT Code PBANUA2X
Адреса підприємства/Company address UA 01001 м Київ пров Музейний б.12
Банки кореспонденти/Correspondent banks Рахунок у банку-кореспонденті/ Account in the correspondent bank 400886700401
SWIFT Code банку-кореспондента/SWIFT Code of the correspondent bank COBADEFF
Банк-кореспондент/Correspondent bank Commerzbank AG, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Рахунок у банку-кореспонденті/Account in the correspondent bank 6231605145
SWIFT Code банку-кореспондента/SWIFT Code of the correspondent bank CHASDEFX
Банк-кореспондент/Correspondent bank J.P.MORGAN AG, FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY