AN ENTERPRISING Ukrainian woman has kick started a business – and she is running it from a rented kitchen space while living in a Dublin hotel room.
Olga Zhuravlova ran a cafe in Mariopol, Ukraine, before Vladimir Putin‘s bloody war forced her to flee to Ireland.
Her cafe was famous for its freshly roasted coffee.
Now, Olga runs ‘Sense Catering’ while living in a Citywest hotel room.
Speaking about her past business, she explained: “Life was good, Mariopol was a thriving tech city of maybe 400,000 people.
“Our cafe was doing great, we were well known for our freshly roasted coffee and new catering business. We were planning for the future.”
On February 2022, Russian troops were just hours away from the city – and the family had to evacuate.
Olga, her husband and their two kids – a two-month-old boy and a three-year-old girl fled to rural west Ukraine along with her parents and her disabled brother.
They hoped the war would blow over in a couple of weeks and came to Ireland for what they presumed would be a short stay.
They have been living in the Citywest hotel since summer 2022.
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Olga was aware that there are many Ukrainians living in Irish hotels who cannot cook and are paying towards food in the hotel.
She then decided to set up Sense Catering – a Ukrainian food business.
The business launched in September of this year, after completing a Start Your Own Business course.
Olga explained: “I started with crepes, filled with meat, cheese and sweet things which I delivered to the hotels”.
She also makes Syrniki – a Ukrainian favourite which is cottage cheese dumplings.
“My local INTREO office in west Dublin believed in me; ‘ Edward Cranney from the South Dublin Partnership told me Let’s go you can do it’”.
She rents a small space in a shared kitchen at ACE enterprise park in West Dublin and delivers Ukrainian food to families living in hotels.
Last week the business catered for the anniversary celebrations of the Ukrainain Community Centre in Dublin’s Rathmines.
She runs Sense Catering with the help of her family – for example, her mother looks after her young son when she works.
Her husband is her disabled brothers carer.
By now, all of her family and friends have fled Mariopol.
“They are all over the world.
“Mariopol was a city of 400,000 and they think 200,000 left and maybe 100,000 died,” she said.
One day, they hope to return to Ukraine.
Olga said: “I dream that Mariopol will be free and we can return.
“We cannot make long-term plans like we used to now we just make short-term plans. That is the best for now.”