“A lot of perceptions” changed for Maxim Shkolnick, a Ukrainian real estate entrepreneur and financier, on February 24, 2022. “I woke up in my house around five in the morning, and my wife was like, ‘we’re being bombed.’ Surreal concept, right? And then another missile hit.” He pauses. “When a ballistic missile hits the ground three clicks away, it feels like they are just bombing the yard.” His house, a sturdy building made of “hard bricks” was “trembling like it was in an earthquake.” Now safely in a neighboring country, Shkolnick says the hardest part of that moment was looking into the eyes of his wife and two children, seven and twelve, and seeing pure panic.
Since those first bombs fell, the world’s attention has been fixed on Ukraine as the Russian army has laid waste its cities and turned it into a nation of refugees. Yet Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bid to conquer and absorb Ukraine has run aground against determined resistance from the nation’s military and civilians and a flood of foreign aid and support. While the Ukrainian armed forces deserve credit for fending off the onslaught, the country’s private sector has also transformed it into a wartime economy virtually overnight. Ukraine’s economists, small business owners, entrepreneurs and diaspora business community have been instrumental in making the sustained defense of the country possible.