After one year of war, a call to keep supporting Ukrainian cooperators


[photo: Mathias Reding/ICA]
One year into a grueling war with Russia, Ukrainians continue to face uncertainty. Winter has introduced a new set of challenges: electricity outages that interrupt communication and cut off heat and hot water sources, leaving COOP Ukraine scrambling to find alternate energy sources in the face of bitter cold. Coupled with relentless Russian attacks, it’s a grim scenario—one Gorokhovskyi said might sound like a “plot for a book,” but “this is our reality.”

Still, Ukrainian cooperators remain hopeful. Their defiance and determination prevail. And in liberated regions of the country, they’re even starting to rebuild and resume cooperative services.

“[Last] year was shocking because of the horror of war and crimes, but incredible because of the heroism of Ukrainians,” Gorokhovskyi said in a recent email to NCBA CLUSA president and CEO Doug O’Brien.

“We have lived [through] it with hope for the future, thanks to Ukraine’s partners—especially the United States of America. Our gratitude knows no bounds, because [your support] not only provides protection and assistance for Ukraine, but in fact liberation from centuries of oppression and genocide of the Ukrainian nation,” he added.

Gorokhovskyi closed the email with a message for cooperators across the country: “On behalf of myself and the entire Ukrainian people, please accept my sincere gratitude to you and the people of the United States—with faith in the victory of good, democracy and the future.”

COOP Ukraine’s relationship with NCBA CLUSA and the Cooperative Development Foundation (CDF) began in early March 2022 when CDF, NCBA CLUSA and National Co+op Grocers launched a fundraiser to help meet the immediate and ongoing needs of Ukrainian cooperators.

Gorokhovskyi accepts the 2022 Cooperative IMPACT Champion award at the National Press Club in October.

At NCBA CLUSA’s 2022 Cooperative IMPACT Conference in October, Gorokhovskyi accepted the 2022 Cooperative IMPACT Champion award and spoke on a panel called “Cooperatives in Times of Crisis.” During the session, panelists explored the legacy of cooperatives sustaining their communities during times of conflict and crisis—from the first CARE Package sent to post-war Europe in 1946 to the recent groundswell of solidarity from the global cooperative community for cooperators in Ukraine.

“We remember you and your colleagues with warmth,” Gorokhovskyi said recently in an email to Alex Serrano, NCBA CLUSA’s Senior Vice President of International Programs. “I am very grateful that you do not forget about Ukrainian cooperators.”

Earlier in 2022, Gorokhovskyi met with leaders from the U.S. cooperative community in Seville at the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA)’s General Assembly, where he explained that decades of infrastructure built by generations of Ukrainian cooperators had been destroyed in a matter of minutes by Russian bombs and missiles.

Last week, ICA reached out to Gorokhovskyi to mark the war’s one-year anniversary and raise awareness of COOP Ukraine’s charity fund. The article that follows was published by the International Cooperative Alliance on February 21, 2023. 


One year has passed since the war in Ukraine began. We contacted Illia Gorokhovskyi, chair of COOP Ukraine‘s Board of Directors to better understand the impact of the war, and how the international cooperative movement can continue to help them.

What has not changed since the war began is the need for a more reliable source for electricity. Gorokhovskyi stressed that frequent power outages make it almost impossible for any form of communication to take place, businesses cannot operate, and food and medicine cannot be refrigerated.

“Enterprises and organizations of COOP Ukraine need a significant number of generators with a capacity of 4-10 kW,” he said. “We cannot do this on our own.”

Another serious problem is the destruction of many cooperatives that were located in areas of combat operations. “Any assistance from foreign colleagues and cooperators of the world will be extremely useful and necessary and accepted with great gratitude,” Gorokhovskyi said.

The international cooperative movement has stepped up to help, and have been actively providing direct financial assistance to COOP Ukraine. These funds are directly dispersed to consumer cooperatives in Ukraine.

“As members of the ICA, we have a billion friends and colleagues from all over the world who sympathize with us and want to help us. This supports us, gives us strength and inspires us to believe in victory.” – Illia Gorokhovskyi, COOP Ukraine

“At the moment, our accounts have received assistance from colleagues from the U.S., Japan, Ireland, Great Britain, France, Germany, Bulgaria, Australia, the Philippines, Malaysia, South Korea and others,” Gorokhovskyi told ICA. “We are truly grateful that the global cooperative community supports my country and cooperation during such difficult times,” he added. “We remember that as members of the ICA, we have a billion friends and colleagues from all over the world who sympathize with us and want to help us. This supports us, gives us strength and inspires us to believe in victory.”

The cooperative movement in Ukraine today

The war has reduced the number of existing cooperatives, and information from cooperatives located in occupied territories is sparse. However, there is activity in the liberated territories and evidence that communities are trying hard to regain their lives and livelihood. And despite serious challenges, cooperatives adapted to continue their mission to serve their members.

“In the liberated territories, our people are returning to work, facilities are being restored, and logistics are being adjusted. Despite all the dangers and difficulties, we are trying to provide local consumers with the most necessary goods, even in newly-liberated territories. Complete restoration of cooperative facilities is possible only after the war. We will do everything to restore the work of all cooperatives that were destroyed,” Gorokhovsky said.

“At the same time, the process of educating and training qualified specialists in cooperative educational institutions for various spheres of the country’s economy has not stopped,” he continued. “Educational institutions from war zones were relocated to safer regions and continue their work there. Despite the difficult situation in the country, in 2022 there was a positive increase in the admission of students to cooperative universities, institutes and colleges.”

Charity Fund

In the spirit of Cooperative Principle #6, “cooperation among cooperatives,” COOP Ukraine’s Board of Directors created a charity fund to receive international aid for the affected cooperatives in Ukraine. A new set of regulations was established to ensure transparency in the process and guarantee that funds are allocated directly to Ukrainian cooperators. A special commission was also created to review all requests and applications for funding and support.

Last year, funds were distributed to the Union of Consumer Societies of Ukraine’s Mykolaiv region at the fund’s request. Today, COOP Ukraine is working to meet requests for support from the unions of consumer societies from Kherson, Zhytomyr, Chernihiv and Sumy regions.

Centering cooperative identity

Last year has shown that identity is very important, including on a geopolitical scale. Gorokhovskyi stressed that the work of COOP Ukraine during the war, along with efforts to gain support and not to lose hope, is sustained by the cooperative principles.

“Our system has always worked as a single family, and during the war, cooperative principles helped us not to be lost in the face of fear, to be resistant to challenges and threats,” he said. “We did not give up, kept in touch, looked for ways out of various situations, helped each other and believed in victory.”

How to help:

To transfer funds in EURO
Company name: Ukrainian Central Union of Consumer Societies
IBAN code: UA423052990000026002016718688
Company address: UA 01601, Kyiv, Khreshchatyk street, 7/11

To transfer funds in USD
Company name: Ukrainian Central Union of Consumer Societies
IBAN code: UA833052990000026007046709792
Company address: UA 01601, Kyiv, Khreshchatyk street, 7/11

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