Several investment promotion agencies (IPAs) in Russia’s nearby neighbourhood have launched initiatives to provide humanitarian aid and business support to Ukrainians following Russia’s invasion.
“It was our responsibility to do something,” Mikheil Khidureli, CEO of Enterprise Georgia, tells fDi as the agency he leads, coordinates #produceforUkraine, a nationwide campaign to collect and send humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
“Our agency is responsible for entrepreneurship and business development of local manufacturers, as well as exports promotion and investment attraction. We therefore have a good network in the local business community. Besides, we have a special relationship with Ukraine and we wanted to send them a message of support, ideally in a practical way in the form of humanitarian help.”
Around 40 private companies have engaged with the programme so far by providing basic goods and allowing Enterprise Georgia to put together an initial 40-tonne aid package that was sent to Ukraine on March 6. A second batch is now being put together.
Poland’s national IPA, the Polish Investment and Trade Agency (PAIH), has also been closely involved in both humanitarian aid and business support initiatives, as the country shares a 535km border with Ukraine and has become the first port of call for hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees. While the #PomagamUkrainie humanitarian campaign to provide support for the refugees is coordinated by the government itself, PAIH has set up a special team to support Polish–Ukrainian businesses.
“The newly created group will coordinate the relocation of enterprises located in Ukraine and help in finding new markets for products previously exported mainly to the East,” the PAIH says on its website.
At the same time, the PAIH will support the business continuity of Ukrainian business by implementing a support programme for the temporary relocation of operations to Poland providing, among other things, free co-working space in the centre of Warsaw and a database of immediately available logistics and production space.
Agencies in the Baltics are also taking practical steps to provide support to those fleeing Ukraine. A personal business relocation adviser at the Estonian Investment Agency helps the employees of Ukrainian companies to find transport solutions to Estonia and supports the company and its employees with the next services that are needed for business continuity. The company also provides detailed information for refugees to relocate and work in Estonia.
Invest in Lithuania has set up a special guide for Ukrainians coming into the country, providing details on everything from arrival routes to employment opportunities and business regulations. The Latvian government is coordinating similar initiatives; it gave mandate to the Latvian Investment and Development Agency to set up a hotline to gather the most topical issues for entrepreneurs in transactions with the neighbouring countries and help with new export markets as Russia, a major trade and investment partner until a few of weeks ago, is now a no-go.
Both Business Finland and Business Sweden have also created pages on their websites to provide information for any business affected by the war in Ukraine.