Things looking gouda again for Mariupol cheese maker

Act!, FormulaOfAction, Stories, Volunteers, War in the Donbas

Businessman Oleksandr Shkatula was forced to leave his native Makiivka because of the war. He has since opened his own cheese business in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

Before Russia’s war in the East, Oleksandr Shkatula worked in a restaurant in his native city of Makiivka. That is where he made the first steps in cheese making. What started off as a hobby has turned into a process of boiling 100 liters of milk at a time. This is enough to make 12 kilograms of cheese.

“I went from a 10-liter pan to a 50-liter pan. That was when I was working as a chef in a restaurant. But all this lasted for so long, it was inconvenient and unmanageable. I was so excited about this idea; I spent 2 years planning it,” saysthe owner.

Oleksandr sent his business plan into a local competition and won a grant to open a business. Oleksandr used the grant to open up shop:

“The money I received was enough to buy all the equipment: a small cheese making complex, a vacuum, and a freezer for storage and ripening.”

Oleksandr makes cheese in tandem with his wife Olena. They’re planning on hiring two employees. Olena says she loves working and supporting her husband. She even left her job at a bank to help full time.

“I worked in a bank for a long time, and in an insurance company, then I went on maternity leave. I decided to set this aside and help my husband with his business. I don’t think that anyone else would help him as sincerely as I would. Our children love their father’s cheese,” says Olena.

The couple buys the milk they use for cheese making from local farmers. After the New Year, the couple plans to increase production and open up a chain of stores.

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  • Robert

    Sasha and his wife Lena were my Host Family last summer in Mariupol as a Volunteer for the #GoCamp program in Ukraine! Wonderful family! Outstanding Host Family! They were working on this “Cheesy” project while I was there! So happy it’s such a huge success! All the hard work continues to yield abundance!

    • Quartermaster

      Out of curiosity, how did you get to Mariupol? I’ve been given to understand the rail Road doesn’t across that part of southern Ukraine.

      • Robert

        I took the train. I’ve done it several times now. There’s at least 2 trains/day to Mariupol from most all major Ukrainian cities. I also once flew from Kyiv to Zaporozhia – then took a train for the final leg. Mariupol does have an airport on the Azov coast, however, no commercial flights arrive or depart since vlady invaded. The front lines are only 20 km to the east of Mariupol.