Disabled IDPs benefit from UNHCR project on business development

When the conflict started, Ruslan Riga and his wife Anna had to flee the hometown of Lysychansk in Luhansk region and start their life from the very beginning in the city of Bila Tserkva in Kyiv region. In Lysychansk spouses had their own business of production and selling cutters for metal and wood surfaces. Although the family was lucky enough to be able to relocate all the equipment, their database of clients was completely lost.


“Looking back, I can say that relocation had a positive influence on our business development. Our new location is much more convenient for the customers”, says Ruslan.

Now, while Anna is busy with their online store, Ruslan trains others on how to use milling cutters. Now,  with help of the UNHCR project for internally displaced persons with disabilities, Ruslan not only supports his family, but also employs other IDPs. "The assistance from the UN Refugee Agency gave me additional motivation to open a new sector for my business", admits Ruslan.  The displaced entrepreneur started to produce various decor elements.

According to the Ministry of Social Policy, more than 50,000 persons with disabilities had to flee their home because of the conflict. Many of them are very vulnerable and can hardly adapt in new settings. IDPs with disabilities and their families said to the UNHCR that covering daily expenses and finding affordable accommodation remain a priority for many displaced. They often face additional financial burden as they need to cover medicines and private transport. These IDPs identified access to information about job opportunities and business development as very limited. While talking to the UNHCR staff they highlight to make this information should be available through various channels to improve accessibility.

In early 2017, Ukrainian NGO “National Assembly of People with Disabilities of Ukraine” with the UNHCR support implemented the project of assistance to IDPs with disabilities to promote the establishment and development of the professional activities of persons affected by the conflict in eastern Ukraine and Crimea. UNHCR provided the funding for project.

The project covered 17 regions and the city of Kyiv. The project targeted IDPs with disabilities as well as family members who are taking care of the displaced persons with disabilities. That is how Valentyna Uvarova, mother of a child with a disability, has become a beneficiary of this project.

In Luhansk Valentyna had her own online store selling clothes for babies. This type of business was a perfect solution for her situation, since it allowed her to stay at home with her son. "To start all over again in Kyiv was very difficult, as I left a large stock of items in Lugansk. It was impossible to take them with us", says Valentyna. However, with the UNHCR's support, she continues her business in Kyiv and even employs other IDP.

Another beneficiary of this project is Anna Kovaleva who had to flee Shakhtarsk. In Kyiv, she began to produce decorative pillows for children as presents for her relatives and acquaintances. "They were so grateful that this inspired me to start my own business", Anna recalls.Thanks to the support in the frame of the UNHCR project, now Anna successfully sells her decorative pillows and receives orders from abroad.

The UNHCR project for displaced persons with disabilities has assisted more than 20 families to start their business and receive professional education.