Paul Shmotolokha, CEO and chairman of New Use Energy Solutions and member of the Small Business Council of the American Chamber of Commerce, didn’t hesitate when he heard that Ukraine needed help. Earlier this year, he was about to go snowboarding when an NGO friend called him with an urgent message. The war had just begun and ordinary Ukrainians needed help.
“We just started mobilizing and said, ‘What can we do?'” said Shmotroka. She “started projects with non-profit organizations such as the FootPrint Project and smartAID.”
The first thing Shmotolokha and his team did was help coordinate the fundraising. Next, Enova Illumination, a Minneapolis-based small business, donated $100,000 worth of battery-powered surgical headlamps to frontline field hospitals in Ukraine. The company has also partnered with the Information Technology Disaster Resource Center (ITDRC) and smartAID to ship his iPads to Ukrainian children hospitalized by the conflict and provide his WiFi access points to newly constructed refugee dormitories. did.
But that was just the beginning. The company immediately set out to do what it did best. That is, to provide mobile power solutions in disaster areas and places where power is intermittent. Only this time, it was a literal war zone.
transport to the battlefield
Shmotolokha and his team, who happen to have years of business experience in Eastern Europe, jumped into action. New Use Energy Solutions has set up a program to ensure that all equipment clears Ukrainian customs quickly and safely ships the lithium-ion batteries that power the system.
The next step was to find a partner in the country who could receive the photovoltaic devices the company manufactures and transport them to those in need.
“We partnered with Ukrainian NGOs who facilitate and accountability for all imports, distribution and warehousing,” said Shmotolokha. “We started manufacturing solar generators and, together with our local partner, his Tavido, brought them up to Ukrainian standards.”
Within weeks, the company’s flagship solar packs were flown and deployed in the country. These mini generators run on sunlight during the day and battery at night when connected to the included portable solar panel. It can also be plugged into the grid if available. These battery packs are designed to provide a steady supply of power in the event of a fire, hurricane, or other natural disaster, where the grid or connection to the grid fails. On the U.S. side, it usually means a hospital or community center that serves as a makeshift gathering point during a disaster response.
In Ukraine, it will likely be used in mobile field hospitals, hospitals, schools and other critical infrastructure. These facilities, and the grids and power lines they connect to, are subject to constant attack in conflict zones where the front line is not always clear.
“they [the Russians] I physically targeted the grid last week and it doesn’t stop. Thankfully, on the cyber side, Ukraine is very strong,” said Shmotolokha.
Powering remote hospitals and saving lives
Shmotroka said the company’s power packs helped restore power to operating rooms and other facilities at a hospital near Mykolaiv, Ukraine, when the hospital was hit by two Russian-made rockets.
“When the power goes out, we literally have to close the emergency room,” says Shmotolokha. “Here’s an emergency room doctor turned solar specialist. He doesn’t have other powers, so he’s got the main equipment, the ventilator, and everything else running.”
The hospital’s ICU director told Mr. Shmotolokha that the power generated by the company’s power pack would operate on at least two trauma patients, one who lost an arm and one who lost a leg. said it was possible. treat appropriately.
Other temporary hospitals close to the front line and mobile hospital units far from the front line (similar to MASH units in previous conflicts) are also in high demand for the company’s mobile power units.
“They’re running out of power or cut off every day. Ours are mobile, so they move very well to the front lines,” Shmotolokha said. It’s in the shed.These are makeshift.They throw the solar panels on the roof.”
Small businesses with deep local connections, international knowledge and agility can be the most important players in times of crisis like this, Shmotolokha said.
“You can make a difference. It’s a direct hit. We know we saved lives,” said Shmotolokha. “Many smaller organizations can be more effective because they actually participate and do it directly and make a difference, so don’t underestimate them.”
About the author
Senior Writer and Editor for Strategic Communications, American Chamber of Commerce
Thaddeus is a Senior Writer and Editor on the Strategic Communications Team at the US Chamber of Commerce.