Chronicle.lu recently had the opportunity to speak with Evgenia Paliy, CEO and co-founder of Ukraine-Luxembourg Business Club asbl (ULBC), about the mission of ULBC as well as its organisation of networking and charity events to raise funds for people affected by the war in Ukraine and to support Ukrainian refugees in Luxembourg.
Evgenia Paliy, a lawyer with more than fifteen years of experience in the private and public sectors, specialising in international finance, co-founded ULBC in 2017, together with Arnaud Lumet and Maria Dobrostamat. Previously, she worked at the Ministry of Finance of Ukraine at the Department of International Relations and European Integration. Evgenia arrived in Luxembourg in 2014 around the time of Russia's annexation of Crimea and subsequently served as a legal counsel at the European Investment Bank (EIB) on its investment projects in Ukraine. She is currently Country General Counsel at ArcelorMittal.
Discussing the origins of ULBC and its mission, Evgenia explained: "Ukraine-Luxembourg Business Club is a non-profit organisation facilitating vibrant business-to-business relations between Ukraine and Luxembourg". She elaborated: "Our aim is to support the relationship between Ukrainian and Luxembourgish business members in both countries, to expand their network of contacts, develop their business skills, promote leading businesses with their peers, provide them with access to useful information and advice about doing business in both countries, to encourage and organise economic and cultural programmes, seminars and business forums about current business issues, key points of trading, trends and business opportunities and other events in Ukraine and Luxembourg".
ULBC, which receives support from the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce and the Ukrainian Embassy in Brussels, organises several business events such as a Tech Forum, an Agri Forum and an Industry Forum.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, ULBC took the opportunity to conduct networking surveys, create digital marketplaces and organise free online events. "We expanded our core services to adjust to the 'new normal'", Evgenia stated. "For us, the unprecedented speed of response to our members' needs was a clear positive of the crisis".
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine which began on 24 February 2022, ULBC has broadened its activities to support Ukrainian refugees in Luxembourg, particularly professionals who are in urgent need of work, and the Ukrainian startup and small business community. ULBC organised an induction event for refugees, with the support of various other business chambers and the Honorary Consul of Luxembourg to Ukraine, to present the organisation and invited recently displaced people to share their knowledge and experience.
She recalled that in the first few weeks of the Russian invasion, ULBC started reaching out to its network partners to find ways of supporting Ukraine. ULBC also cooperated with and donated money to LUkraine asbl to guarantee the provision of humanitarian aid in Ukraine. The organisation quickly refocused its efforts on rebuilding and supporting the Ukrainian economy and small businesses through its contacts and network partners.
ULBC felt that startups, small businesses and artistic professionals, many of whom are now refugees in Luxembourg, were particularly vulnerable as they had lost their income or had to abandon their careers. Evgenia cited language as the main challenge for many of these experienced professionals. ULBC tries to help these individuals in the areas of recruitment, working to provide job placements for Ukrainians who have recently arrived in Luxembourg, but also through charity events.
One such event, a charity musical performance and art auction (called "Business Stands with Ukraine") held on 9 June 2022, raised over €18,000 to support three Ukrainian startups: Knowledgator Engineering, a universal search engine for researchers in the life sciences industry; Carbominer, a Ukrainian climate tech hardware startup; Aid Monitor, a monitoring system that aims to prevent the abuse of humanitarian aid.
More recently, on 14 July 2022, ULBC raised €500 from the sale of a T-shirt signed by the national football team of Ukraine. The money was transferred to a children's sports school in Inhulets, Ukraine, where war displaced children can access sports training.
ULBC has called upon the business communities and professionals in Luxembourg as well as anyone else interested to share their professional expertise and knowledge to help Ukrainian refugees in their capacity as members of clubs or as speakers at ULBC events or simply as participants in events aimed at supporting Ukrainians. Those interested should reach out to Evgenia via email: Evgenia.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Evgenia acknowledged the "tremendous" support offered by the Grand Duchy to Ukraine, both in terms of humanitarian and military aid and in welcoming and providing various support measures to refugees in Luxembourg, including free housing, education and healthcare. Taking note of the numerous support measures and the safe environment provided to more than 5,000 Ukrainian refugees, she stated: "We do appreciate these efforts and express our gratitude for the country’s solidarity".
Talking about future events planned by ULBC, Evgenia highlighted five upcoming events, namely the Agri Forum in October 2022, a technology event in November 2022, an event on the reconstruction of Ukraine and a big charity event in January 2023 as well as an education conference in February 2023.