In Ukraine, over 2,200 people have tested positive for COVID-19, with 98 deaths as a result of the virus. Like many countries around the world, the Ukrainian government has taken measures to limit the spread of COVID-19—closing schools, urging companies to have employees work from home, and ordering nonessential businesses to close.
While these lockdowns have forced many entrepreneurs to temporarily close their businesses, farmers are permitted to continue growing food such as tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbages, and grains and, importantly, selling it at markets as long as they practice social distancing. Because their harvest season is beginning, greenhouse entrepreneurs have already successfully started to sell at the market. In instances when they aren’t able to, they’re finding creative ways to get their produce to customers, like selling online or at roadside food stands.
Since about 70% of loans currently in circulation are being used by greenhouse farmers, HOPE Ukraine is well-positioned to respond in ways that help Ukrainians weather this coronavirus pandemic.
While HOPE Ukraine has adapted some operating procedures to protect entrepreneurs and staff, they can still lend and collect repayments via bank transfers. By equipping farmers with financial tools, HOPE Ukraine is not only helping them to stabilize their own income, but also investing in a vital part of the country’s response to COVID-19. As an essential service, farmers are leading the way in providing their communities with a reliable source of fresh food. And HOPE Ukraine reports that greenhouse entrepreneurs are already making their first repayments, even amid such challenging circumstances.
We’re investing in essential businesses.
Volodymyr Mineev, a greenhouse farmer, has taken out five loans from HOPE Ukraine. Since his first loan in 2016, he has built 17 greenhouses, purchased seeds, fertilizers, and tools, and invested in technology to modernize his greenhouses. Through these purchases, Volodymyr has grown his business and increased his tomato harvest. He shares that one of his favorite parts about his work is how he can supply his community with high-quality produce, and he dreams of someday expanding his impact further. Volodymyr says, “I wish we would not import tomatoes from [other countries] but export them there!”
Last year, we surveyed those we serve in Ukraine to better understand the impact they experience as a result of HOPE Ukraine. We learned that 94% of HOPE Ukraine entrepreneurs reported being able to meet a significant financial emergency, compared to 70% of the broader Ukrainian population. We know that COVID-19 will undoubtedly lead to health and economic hardships for the women and men we serve—even those working in agriculture. But we praise God, that HOPE Ukraine’s services will be a source of stability for both entrepreneurs in Ukraine and their broader communities.
For the families and entrepreneurs HOPE serves around the world, the consequences of the COVID-19 economic fallout are still unfolding. Yet we know that when equipped with the simple tools of discipleship, training, savings, and loans, their ability to outlast severe disruptions vastly improves. Through our COVID-19 Response Fund, you can help us build up the resilience of the families we serve.