“We are developing the idea that a veteran is a successful person, a person who has ideas, who knows how to implement them, who works honestly,” says Roman Nabozhniak, war veteran, owner of Veterano Brownie bakery.
Roman fought in Ukraine’s east against Russian-backed soldiers for 10 months. He started ‘Veterano Brownie’ which is a chain of cafés offering employment to war veterans or established by veterans.
After coming back from the frontline, Roman — who used to work for an IT company before joining the army in summer 2015 — together with his wife Yuliia — decided to start his own business. There was definitely a very steep learning curve.
“We did not have any experience. And it’s very important to mention this. First of all, we did not have experience in business in general. Secondly, we did not have experience in baking. And it seems to me it’s very cool experience as we need to learn something constantly,” says Yulia Kochetova-Nabozhniak, Roman’s wife.
The couple lets customers pay for brownies which later will be delivered to a military hospital to treat wounded servicemen as an expression of gratitude for their service. The soldiers are happy to have them.
The team also delivers brownies to fellow cafe ‘Pizza Veterano’. This pizzeria was also established by veterans for veterans.
The main goal of all of these establishments — give former soldiers the tools and the confidence to start their own business, become leaders, and return to civilian life.
There are more than two hundred thousand veterans in Ukraine. The number increases everyday as the war rages on in Eastern Ukraine.