J&L Consulting: Over 10 Years of Successful Danish-Ukrainian Performance

  • J&L Consulting: Over 10 Years of Successful Danish-Ukrainian Performance
Issue 72, October 2014.

J&L Consulting: Over 10 Years of Successful Danish-Ukrainian Performance

Leading Danish business consultant Anders Johansen has been active in the Lviv Region since 2001 and has assisted a wide variety of international businesses to enter Ukraine. He has witnessed the growth of the international investment community from the inside but believes that there is still a lot that needs to be done to create an investment climate that will prove regionally competitive.

What’s the story behind the startup of your consultancy company?

My first business trip to Ukraine took place back in 2001. I was sent from Denmark to Ukraine to establish a textile company – a green field project in Novoyavorivsk. That period in Ukraine was especially appealing for foreigners as we saw an up-and-coming star in Ukraine’s economy and were willing to invest. Even before I finished the Danish project in late 2002, two other companies had already asked me to help them establish a business in Ukraine as I was already familiar with the market and knew how building a startup worked. I realized there was a big future for similar requests from foreigners since so many saw the great potential Ukraine offered. I decided to start my own consultancy company that would help attract foreign investors. Fortunately, that turned out to be a great decision and the business grew very quickly – from just 3 employees at the start to the fully-supplied office of professionals that we work with now.

What obstacles did you face when you were developing the market and how did you overcome them?

Gaps in legislation have always been the biggest problem for any businessman to do business in Ukraine. There are a handful of unclear and uncertain regulatory acts that seem to have been created to make manipulations and misinterpretations easier, especially in favour of executives. Many such gaps remain unchanged. This is a stick with two ends because solving such regulatory conflicts and finding solutions is exactly what J&L does best. It was very difficult to find qualified people with experience, both for us and for our clients, as employees are always the main asset for any company. After more than 10 years of doing business here in Ukraine, I have managed to find qualified and devoted employees and business partners and we have developed trusting relationships that I can count on.

As a professional team with a common vision, we are always looking for the most efficient solutions for our clients and to make sure we implement the best of our experience in every single case.

Can you give your overview on the general legal and business development changes in Ukraine over the past 10 years?

There have been many positive changes in legislation over the last 10 years. Many permit and licensing procedures were simplified, there were noticeable changes in Tax & Customs legislation, a number of anti-corruption laws were adopted, and probably the most significant change was the signature of the Association Agreement between the European Union and Ukraine. Of course, these changes can’t be perfect right away and I believe that Ukraine has to make its way just like any other European country has. Now in the process of harmonization of Ukrainian legislation with EU norms, the Ukrainian business community will face lots of challenges associated with investments into the development and modernization of their production facilities in order to enhance the competitiveness of the businesses. But speaking from the experiences of other European countries, the process is going to be worth it.

What is the difference between doing business in Ukraine and Denmark? What would you suggest Ukrainian businessmen should implement?

First of all, Denmark has been a member of the EU since 1972, so we have been used to working in a global market where competition grows year after year and you need to be innovative and competitive to survive. We have had much more time to adopt fair laws and fight corruption. Ukraine is still on its way, but I believe that the experience that the Danish community brought to Lviv, such as Danish technologies and innovation, are used more and more extensively. From what I’ve learned in my personal experience, we’ve been helping Ukrainian companies to implement innovative Danish technologies in startups and support successful businesses in their continued growth. A good example is agribusiness, especially improvements in pig farming (Danish pig farming is considered to be the best in Europe).

What is your personal attitude to Ukrainians as a nation?

I have great expectations for the younger generation that is moving the country forward and making visible changes in the economic development of the country by triggering new initiatives, promoting pro-European vision, and promoting transparency in doing and establishing business in Ukraine. The revolution that recently took place is a clear example of it. People are finally opening their eyes, changing their mentality, getting new experience, and implementing it in their own companies, communities, organizations, and families. This is what I call the evolution of the nation.

What is your forecast for the investment climate in Ukraine/Western Ukraine in particular?

I hope the next 6 months will show that the new government is ready to make the needed reforms and fight corruption. The legislative system transparency will positively impact the inflow of European investment and bring the know-how to the country.

The harmonization of Ukrainian legislation with EU norms will open opportunities for Ukrainian goods and services to become competitive and enter new markets – namely European markets that will promote economic development.

I clearly feel that Ukraine is willing to move forward and I truly believe that the new government will make everything possible to implement all the necessary reforms for the further growth and development of the country.