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Oleksandra Damekina

Customer Story:

When traditional banks failed this Ukrainian agro-business, Silverbird liberated its supply chain

‘‘The frontlines are 10 km from our land.’’

Oleksandra Damekina
Marketing Manager at Cereal Crops Trading LLP

Russian bombs rained down on Kharkiv as the farmhands brought in the harvest. The millet, milk thistle and green peas were loaded onto lorries and sent across the Polish border to European birdfeed manufacturers.

Though only 10 km from Ukraine’s frontline, the war wouldn’t stop them.

"In Ukraine, we believe in the victory and liberation of our country."

Said Oleksandra, the daughter of the owner of this sprawling 500-hectare farm: Grygorii, founder and president of Cereal Crop Trading LP.

For the last decade, his company has organized the mass cultivation of a diverse range of niche seeds — from milk thistle and yellow millet to canary grass and green peas — and exports them to European buyers. 

Grygorii wasn’t always an agronomist. He gave up his academic career in 1991 to start one of Ukraine’s first post-Soviet private companies. He produced computers, televisions and household appliances to trade on the domestic market.  

By 2001, it was no longer profitable. He pivoted and went into ladies and menswear. Ten years later, a decline in interest prompted Grygorii to pivot again — this time, to agriculture.

Some Polish colleagues had asked him to supply them with milk thistle seeds for the production of medicine. The rest is history. He met their demands. Business boomed. The company grew. He registered his company in the UK to expand his trading network in Europe.

He wanted to find European investors to help him finance a factory, but the Russian invasion of Ukraine stopped him.

They didn’t abandon the implantation of the sowing campaign.

"Despite the fact that the front line was only 10kms from our lands."

Despite many things. Diesel fuel tripled in price and Ukrainian banks stopped lending to farms in Kharkiv.

His 100% family-owned business had to purchase seeds and diesel fuel with their own money. Cultivated the land themselves and reaped a good harvest.

They face bombardments and rocket attacks daily.

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It’s hard to go to do business in a bank. For us, it’s very important to work online — Silverbird helps with that.

Before Silverbird, Grygorii had an account with a Lithuanian bank. “The experience was instructive, but not very pleasant,” said Oleksandra.

They started with attractive rates for banking services and international payments. But within two years, the bank had increased tariffs four times — all without warning.

In the end, they charged outgoing payments at 1% of the total incoming payments at 0.5% and accounts were €20 per month.

Grygorii complained. Even the bank’s support team hadn’t been told of the decision — they blamed it on the head department.

They didn’t want to lose him and offered to halve Grygorii’s tariffs, but the relationship had soured. “He refused to cooperate with them,” Oleksandra said. “It was no longer profitable.”

It was then that Silverbird reached out to them.

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"The Silverbird representative made a very reasonable offer with very pleasant tariffs for us. He assured us that the tariffs wouldn’t change for worse."

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Silverbird offered a cost-effective and efficient alternative to traditional banks. 

"Silverbird has very good rates for incoming and outgoing payments in CPA and Swift"

For Grygorii’s family, speed is critical. 

"Silverbird is a power engine of our business. The speed is very fast when compared to traditional banking. We don’t have to go to a bank building and wait to withdraw money. Everything is online. We’re able to receive money quickly in these hard conditions and unpleasant circumstances."

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