When Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022, the life of 33-year-old Andriy Gdovskyi, the owner of the Super Yogurt business, was turned upside down. The city of Mykolaiv, where the company’s production is based, came under fire from day one, and the local economy has collapsed. But with the help of the EU4Youth: Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship programme, co-funded by the European Union, Andriy’s business recovered and he was able to adapt his business to survive.
As soon as the war began, Andriy, began an initiative to help the local community: ‘humanitarian yogurt’. Between February and the end of the summer, Andriy delivered 90% of his production to old people, shelters, hospitals, and kindergartens, pledging a large part of his profits to supporting the townspeople. When word spread through social networks, many people contributed to this initiative by donating.
Before the war, Andriy used to sell his drinking yogurt in Kherson and Odesa, but with the occupation of Kherson that market dried up. There were several promotions for the distribution of the yogurt, but over time resources ran out and they had to stop production. Nevertheless, Andriy was eager not to give up, and he began searching for additional funds to resume his business. This is how he found a grant opportunity offered by the ‘EU4Youth Phase III Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship – Support for internally displaced persons and youth entrepreneurs’ project, implemented by the charitable foundation Spivdiia. The funding helped Andriy’s business greatly, as it enabled him to purchase the basic materials needed to produce the yogurt, namely bottles for containers and the sourdough starter for yoghurt itself.
It all began with a Viber message
Back in the spring of 2021, when Andriy first launched his business, his first customers were the contacts on his phone. The business started quite simply with a Viber group and Andriy’s message explaining that he was producing yogurt for people to buy. Later, it grew into something much bigger. He explains that the main idea of the yogurt is that it is fresh and natural, but its taste is constantly changing in response to local and seasonal products. If the cost of some raw materials goes up, Andriy also raises the cost of his yogurt. He does this because he does not want to compromise the quality of the yogurt for monetary gain. His customers understand this and continue to buy Super Yogurt. Andriy says that “the quality of the product is the most important aspect of my work … my experience as a chef has contributed a lot to the business.”
If you want a successful business, you have to love your work
Andriy believes that if you want to create a good company, you have to hire the best specialists: “If people love what they are doing, then everything will turn out perfectly, both for the team and for the product.” Andriy cares deeply about the microclimate of the enterprise. He is convinced that you shouldn’t work only for the sake of money, and that it is essential to find the work meaningful.
Working together is amazing
Currently, only Andriy and another person are working at Super Yogurt. The entrepreneur says that if the business had more funds, he would hire a driver to help with logistics and one more person for production. “Yogurt as a drink sounds light and tasty,” he explains, “but in reality, it involves heavy milk cans and serious work with technology.” He works on advertising, as well as dealing with the raw materials, production and logistics. It’s quite a challenge, but Andriy does not want to step away because he loves this business. “Being close to my employee and doing it side by side is amazing,” Andriy smiles.
In the near future, if funds are available, Andriy plans to relocate his business to Odesa. At the moment, Andriy goes there every week to deliver the yogurt, and the funds from the grant also help to cover the cost of fuel. Andriy believes that though the grant he received is a significant help for his business, a little more time and additional effort is needed to achieve Super Yogurt’s full potential.
Inspiring courage deserves attention and support
Super Yogurt was noted by the Spivdiia team for its courage, because despite the constant shelling of the city, they still continue to make their product. In cities like Mykolaiv there are always problems, not only with security, but also with communal enterprises, communication, etc. The fact that Andriy and his colleague continue to make a product as fragile as yogurt in such conditions is inspiring and deserves attention and help.
Implemented by Spivdiia, the EU-funded ‘EU4Youth Phase III Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship – Support for internally displaced persons and youth entrepreneurs” project’, was launched using reallocated support for addressing the war-related needs of Ukraine under the framework of EU4Youth programme. This project, with a budget of over €307,000, covers 10 regions, including Ternopil, Khmelnytskyi, Odesa, Cherkasy, Lviv and Chernivtsi. It has created a chatbot for business collaboration and a site for entrepreneurs, as well as providing career guidance services for 577 people from different regions of Ukraine. So far, 30 people have been selected to receive financial support for business recovery: one of them is Andriy, and his Super Yogurt.
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