IOM ENCOURAGES UKRAINIAN MIGRANT WORKERS RETURN AND INVEST IN UKRAINE
Andrii immediately recognizes it among dozens of other tractors, skillfully opens the hood, checking the model configuration, adjusts the seat to his height, easily starts and makes the winning circle around the agricultural machinery warehouse. The smile is shining on the former labour migrant’s face: he won the grant and today he receives a tractor — the same model as he used to operate in Poland, but now it is his own one!
While the warehouse staff prepares the documents, Andrii tells us his story. After graduating from the faculty of physics at Chernivtsi university, Western Ukraine, he could not find a job in his degree field. There is a lack of job opportunities in the region. "They are reluctantly to employ young people, I have looked everywhere. I tried to work as the seller in the market and the office manager. And then friends offered to go to Poland together. Now everyone goes to work there,” says Andrii.
At that time Andrii was 24. Initially, he got a job at a Polish postal company. It was a hard job, especially on Christmas time, when Andrii had to work for three. After leaving the postal company, he found a job at a local Chinese cabbage farm. “In my native Blyschad and nearby villages people grow a lot of Chinese cabbage, even a local newspaper called our region ‘the cabbage land’. So, I know the stuff,” explains Andrii.
However, he also saw a lot of new things at the Polish farm: the working process, fertilization, and the treatment of seedlings from diseases and pests — those small things that help to achieve a significant increase in yields. In Ukraine, says Andrii, 25 tons from a half a hectare are considered a normal harvest of Chinese cabbage, but in Poland they harvest 40 tons from the equal area! For two years on the farm, Andrii not only learned the agronomic tips, but also mastered the profession of a tractor driver and even gained his first managerial experience: when the boss went on vacation, Andrii supervised ten other workers.
Andrii was planning to stay in Poland for a third year, but suddenly he saw an Internet announcement of the IOM pilot project for migrant workers. “The announcement said that every fifth labour migrant was interested in investing their earned money in a business in Ukraine. And I immediately thought that this was about me! I will be able to grow the same cabbage in my own field,” says Andrii, recalling how quickly he filled out the application and how pleased he was when the confirmation came. He then communicated with business consultant via Skype for two months, finding out the nuances of financial reporting and taxation, calculating risks, and drawing up a business plan; agreed with the head of the village council on the lease of land, and with relatives — on the premises for stockpiling crops. It was a little scary before defending a business plan, but the procedure turned out to be simple. "Even the walls of the office where the business-plan defense took place were transparent, made of glass," smiles Andrii. "I thought they would take me down and ask difficult questions, but I just told IOM staff everything I knew about growing Chinese cabbage and described my plans – that was it."
"I am very happy for Andrii," said Ali Chabuk, IOM's project manager. “Now he will work for himself, on his land, and will not miss his home. By developing a business in his native village, he will create new jobs in his community. Andrii invests not only money earned abroad, but also experience gained in Poland”
Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the IOM initiative for Ukrainian labour migrants and their families operates on a "1 + 1" basis, i.e., for each dollar of own funds invested in developing their business in Ukraine, participants receive another dollar as a non-refundable grant. In general, the programme provides equipment worth up to USD 4,000. To make money for such tractor, Andrii would have to work over a year abroad.
In just a month, over 260 labour workers seeking options to invest their money earned abroad in the development of their own business in Ukraine applied for the project. Applications came from all the regions of Ukraine and cover a wide variety of spheres: industry, agriculture, construction, services and education.