Tatiana Ustyshch Opora
Twinkle Leo Opora
Yegor Lanovenko Yegor Lanovenko
Press release issued: 24 August 2022
Opora, founded by MPhil History graduate Yegor Lanovenko, has processed its first tranche of its business grants programme aimed at supporting Ukrainian refugee entrepreneurs in the UK.
Originally from Odesa himself, Yegor set up the charity to facilitate Ukrainians re-starting their lives sustainably in the UK for the long term, following Russia’s invasion in February.
“Ukrainians are a very entrepreneurial nation, and the Opora team knew from the very beginning that many refugees ending up in the UK would have had successful business projects in Ukraine, which are now either destroyed or no longer viable,” explained Yegor, who is also Chair of Opora.
“It is no surprise that these arrivals are now looking for ways to apply their knowledge, skills and entrepreneurial nature to start up anew or rebuild their businesses in the UK.”
Yegor and his team believe supporting Ukrainian entrepreneurs is one of the best ways to facilitate self-sustainable, durable ways of rebuilding Ukrainian lives in the UK, multiplying impact through further job-creation and contributing to the local economy. To enable this, Opora provides both business grants of up to £5,000 and business support, network contacts and ongoing mentoring to the entrepreneurs selected in the application process.
Opora’s Ukrainian refugee entrepreneur network and community support channels in the UK have grown to over 1k people since May.
“The range of ideas, experience and sheer resilience and determination to keep going despite everything that has happened in this community is truly inspiring and highlights the incredible contribution refugees and immigrants can have on the local, national and international economy.
“We hope to be able to further expand this programme and help even more Ukrainian entrepreneurs as the new tranche opens soon.” added Yegor.
Among the recipients of the first tranche of the Opora business grants are Twinkle Leo, a brand of bespoke hand-made baby bedding sets made by Tatiana Ustyshch, who came to Bristol with her three-year-old son under the Homes for Ukraine programme from Kyiv, having found a sponsor using the Opora platform. Sewing started as a hobby for Tatiana who grew this into a full-time business in Ukraine after the birth of her son. Having studied the British market, Tatiana realised that there is a niche for her custom-made home textiles for children. The tenacious mum never stopped production, using borrowed equipment and her room in the sponsor’s house to fulfil orders. The grant will enable her to scale up production through purchasing professional equipment, of the kind she had to leave behind in Ukraine.
Another beneficiary is Statnaia, a brand of luxury hand-made corsets designed and produced by Tetiana Stetsina, who left Odesa with her son in a car packed with stock, equipment and materials. She drove all the way to Oxfordshire where she is now living with her sponsors and is actively rebuilding her business in both the UK and Ukraine.
Also allocated funding is a business known as Pound, a vintage and antiques project, led by Lavrentii Tarasevych. Lavrentii, originally from a village by Irpin, moved to sponsors in Derbyshire with his wife, young son and mother. Lavrentii has over 20 years of experience running antique stores and consultancy in Kyiv.
To date, Opora has helped over 3000 Ukrainians relocate successfully to the UK and supports a community of over 30k arrivals with ongoing information and practical advice to help rebuild their lives sustainably.
Opora is a registered charity (1199760).
University of Bristol
Bristol, BS8 1QU, UK
Tel: +44 (0)117 928 9000
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Tatiana Ustyshch Opora