On the 25th of September, the City of Tallinn held the largest business-conference, “Äriplaan 2020”, where owners of companies shared stories of their success and plans for the future. The board member of Estonian company RIA.com Marketplaces Artem Umanets, who moved to Estonia from Ukraine, tells about what was impressive at the conference, and why, in his opinion, entrepreneurs underestimate Ukraine and what problems the business has nowadays.
Briefly about the conference
The conference has gathered a lot of interesting people who know firsthand how to make, invest, and even lose money. I agree with the owner of the Kaamos Group Kaido Jõeleht that entrepreneurs are the architects in the business world. Their role might seem insignificant from the outside, but their decisions are of fundamental significance. The most critical function of an entrepreneur is to gather a team of like-minded people, precisely what Kaido did. We try to follow the same path.
We should speak about the global focus. It is crucial to look for opportunities in export-oriented goods and services. This point was made by a few entrepreneurs (incl. Kaido Jõeleht, the head of Skeleton Technologies Taavi Madiberk, the owner of Estiko Grupp Neinar Seli, the founder of Funderbeam Kaidi Ruusalepp, the owner of Skinest Group Oleg Osinovski). In the opinion of the business representatives, Estonia is too small a country to limit yourself with the domestic market. Osinovski is sure that the best way of expanding a business is to start with the nearest and well-understood markets, e.g., Latvia and Lithuania.
It surprises me that a lot of people conduct business in Belarus, but ignore Ukraine as a new source for making money. Well, they should.
Ukraine as an investment destination
There are two directions for business development in Ukraine.
The first is the market for agricultural land. There are all preconditions to consider it the most extensive reform in Ukraine in the last 25 years. This country is already a big player in the global export market for grain and vegetable oil. All of this has been achieved on the leased land. It is hard to imagine what results could be performed on the land in the property of agricultural companies.
The second is the IT sector. The largest Estonian companies have already opened the development offices in Ukraine: TransferWise already in the year 2011, Bolt in the summer of 2019. RIA.com Marketplaces also has the research and development office there. And judging by our projects (auto.ria.com, dom.ria.com), we can tell that Ukrainians are one of the best IT specialists in the world. And for the success of these projects, we owe it to the teamwork in this country.
What problems does the business have?
We can tell that the business in Estonia feels comfortable. There is a workforce. Not overabundance, but there is enough to choose from. But there is still one problem, the banks. There were questions raised at the conference considering the financial sector. In connection with the withdrawal of a few foreign banks from Estonia, the competition has disappeared. Now the decision to give a loan to a business or not can take up to even a month.
Local banks have become more cautious, and this will result in the slowing of international payments. All of that will affect entrepreneurs, as well.