The Dnipro producer of flour, cereals and pasta “SamRiz” needed a quick affordable loan to pay wages to its workers and buy food stock. The company was able to cover these expenses thanks to a cheap loan from ProCredit Bank, a Ukrainian partner of the European Fund for Southeast Europe (EFSE), within the framework of the EU4Business initiative.
Her story is a bit of the Cinderella story. Not in the sense of meeting a handsome prince but how persistence translates into effectiveness and the ability to build one’s own life.
At 15, Tetiana became an orphan. She remembers how she was selling apples from the father’s orchard to earn money for a college and clothes.
After that, she went to a vocational school for the degree of bakery technologist and confectioner.
She worked at a large bakery plant in Dnipro, and at the same time, completed extramural college studies in the same, food-related field of specialization.
And then, a friend of hers has opened a business, a mini bakery, together with Turkish partners. But in the end, the friend has realized that she cannot work with them, and asked Tetiana to buy out their stake.
So, that was how she became an owner of a bakery – by a fluke.
And Tetiana actually began competing with a large enterprise, the bakery plant where she made her career, rising to the position of technical director.
Tetiana’s bakery produced the same bread and buns as bakery plants. But they, private entrepreneurs, were easier to negotiate with, allowing stores to defer payments, making free deliveries, offering flexible prices and discounts on large orders.
State-owned bakery plants had none of that.
Later on, state enterprises became private and were also able to make the same offers Tetiana did. She closed her bakery and sold the lot.
And then, pasta came into Tetiana’s life.
Again, everything has begun with a chance encounter. A friend of hers, who was in a food production business, complained that he cannot sell his products – 20 tons of pasta. She undertook to sell the pasta and came in touch with ATB supermarket chain.
And Tetiana got interested in it. She signed a supply contract and began picking up the pace. And then the friend, who by that time was already her partner, told her: they took away my equipment! I cannot produce pasta anymore!
But Tetiana had a contract! And serious penalties for breaching it!
So, she decided to buy pasta on the side and resell it. Later on, she leased a pasta production facility with a mill, and soon afterwards, launched an own production business.
So, everything was going well. Until the 2008 crisis struck.
The company of Tetiana Yaremchuk from Verkhniodniprovsk took three foreign-currency loans to finance purchase of a land plot and equipment. The exchange rate was 4.6 hryvnias per dollar when she took the loans, but by the time the businesswoman had to repay them, the exchange rate began to surge.
Her loan manager at one of the banks told her that she might be able to convert the loan into hryvnias. They started to wait for a decision from the head office, which took three months, and in the meantime, the exchange rate went up from 12 to 16 hryvnias per dollar. Eventually, Tetiana’s request was denied. As her loan manager explained: in Kyiv, they said that Mrs. Yaremchuk has money to pay, so let her pay.
Today, her two loans are already closed. Unfortunately, instead of working, confidently and without rush, she has to perform feats.
“The only thing that now slightly holds us back is the lack of production capacity,” Tetina says. “When I was looking for money, I learned that Ukrainian ProCredit Bank provides financing to small businesses under EU4Business program. So, I received an unsecured loan to replenish current funds. They gave this loan to me fast and without any delays. When we left the branch, me and my accountant were so happy!”
Half a year later, they took another loan, and today, they have a small line of credit to draw money on.
Her company, SamRiz produces almost a thousand tons of flour, groats and pasta every month. She sells the entire output to the largest retail chains in Ukraine, including ATB, a leading Ukrainian retailer known for its strict approach to quality and price.
Tetiana Yaremchuk plans to enter the EU market:
“For me as a producer, this market offers many opportunities. We have already had talks with businessmen in Bulgaria. In a few days, we will send samples of our penne-type pasta to potential customers. And if everything goes well, we will supply boxed pasta to hotels in Bulgaria. Our products are quite competitive in terms of price and quality.”
The materials were provided by EU4Business.
By Zoya Kazanzhy