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“Prolisok.” The name means “snowdrop”, the first spring flower to appear after a long winter. Prolisok Farmhouse founder Neonila Stadnik chuckles when she recalls how her company came to be named after the plant: “My son suggested it when he was ten years old,” she reminisces. “For us, it symbolized strength and resilience in a difficult environment.”

Prolisok Farmhouse certainly lives up to its name. In 1992, finding work in Ukraine was not easy. Stadnik was a trained nurse and her husband was a driver, but their income was too unstable to support a family. That was when the couple decided to establish their own farm. “It was hard at the beginning,” says Stadnik. “We were harvesting beets by hand. I had to learn everything from scratch: agronomy, accounting, farming equipment, all the aspects of running a business. There weren’t many friends or family who supported us. People were used to the way things were before, and were cautious about starting something new.” She winks. “Fortunately, I have a stubborn character.”

Like the snowdrop, Stadnik’s stubborn character was the key to her company’s blossoming. She and her husband grew their farming skills, took out a loan, and bought a tractor. Soon, what began as a plan to support her family quickly grew to need a few more hands, and Stadnik and her husband began hiring the neighbours to help. At first, finding staff was a challenge: “People were seeking work in bigger cities or moving abroad.” But the more the farm grew, the more the family was able to invest in new technologies, increase their productivity, and create new jobs.

In 2018, Prolisok Farmhouse badly needed to upgrade their farm vehicles. That is when the family approached Agroprosperis Bank, a partner of EFSE and the European Union as part of its EU4Business Initiative in supplying sustainable financing to agricultural entrepreneurs in Ukraine – entrepreneurs like Stadnik. “We were looking for a good lending program. It can be difficult to purchase new equipment sometimes, but the loan officers at Agroprosperis Bank were very helpful and flexible. With the two loans we were provided, we were able to buy the new equipment, and are now able to work better and increase our productivity.”

Today, Prolisok Farmhouse employs 50 workers from the local community. Stadnik has passed on operations to her son-in-law, who is now company director. “It’s important for me to see happy people around,” she says. “When my son and husband died, it was very difficult for me not to give up – it was very hard to get back to work. But my son-in-law reminded me how many people depend on me and our company. Not only employees, but also their families, as they no longer need to go abroad for work. They can see their children grow and stay with them. Knowing that my work helps to keep families together is the greatest motivation.”

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