Against a backdrop of war and poverty total supply chain solutions provider Oakland International together with not-for-profit organisation Hope4 are opening doors for Ukrainian producers to access the UK retail and foodservice markets via Moldova.
Having previously financed trucks to deliver Ukraine aid following the outbreak of war and working closely with the Ukrainian ambassador to the UK and the Mail Force appeal by packing food boxes from their Bardon depot destined for delivery to the Ukrainian border, Oakland International together with Hope4 are now delivering a new initiative that will help stimulate economic recovery whilst supporting Ukrainian and Moldovan families in desperate need.
Hope4 CEO Chris Lomas said: “My wife Zoe and I arrived in Moldova on the 17th February 2021 with an ambition to impact lives affected by poverty and human trafficking. By the morning of the 24th February, Zoe and I were sat having breakfast when the windows started to shake, and the sound of fireworks punctuated the normally quiet community where we lived. War had started, and our lives would never quite be the same again.
“Over the weeks that followed, and with the help of Lea Turner, a LinkedIn trainer, our presence on social media helped raised thousands of pounds, and importantly awareness of the humanitarian crisis unfolding right before us, and significantly attracting the attention of Oakland International Co-Founder and Group CEO Dean Attwell.”
Following exploratory visits to Moldova to meet Chris and his team, Oakland International through much negotiation and determination succeeded in gaining agreement to channel the remainder of the Mail Force Ukrainian food aid parcels to Hope4 in Moldova.
Said Dean: “From the minute I touched down in Moldova I was impressed by how Chris and Hope4 were directly impacting the lives of so many people in Europe’s poorest country.
“Visiting Odessa to understand potential supply routes into and out of the Ukraine, Moldova was the obvious warehouse location and instead of just bringing in humanitarian aid we are now working to provide a subsidised back-haul solution primarily for Ukrainian producers to access the UK retail and foodservice markets, which will not only help stimulate economic recovery but offer a hand-up and not a hand-out, equipping them to be self-sufficient and create new jobs for local people.
“The new warehouse rental agreement is to be fully funded by Oakland for a minimum of the next 5 years. During this time it is planned that the warehouse will operate as an inbound/outbound consolidation centre, providing full transparency on humanitarian aid received and dispersed to those who are in desperate need on one hand, whilst then facilitating exports as backloads from Ukraine and Moldova to assist with economic regeneration and support.”
Oakland International’s strong sustainable and ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) agenda have seen them take the first step towards becoming B Corp certified and they are also working to become the first business within their sector to achieve net-zero. 24-hours/7 days a week operation, Oakland International is a retail, food service and direct to consumer specialist in contract packing, storage, picking, food distribution and a brand development support provider for ambient, chilled, and frozen food to the retail, convenience, discount, wholesale and food service markets in the UK and Ireland.
Added Chris: “This warehouse simply would not have happened if it were not for Oakland International. Their support continues to be critical, presenting a formidable force in combatting the effects of the war in Ukraine on every day people, as well as providing hope to the country hosting them.
“There is much still to do, including systems and equipping the Oakland/Hope4 warehouse to receive and distribute goods from across Ukraine and Moldova. Oakland has established UK retail relationships and we’re ready to rapidly move forward once bonded-warehouse status has been received which will facilitate Ukrainian import and export to the UK.
“There are opportunities for organisations from across the UK and beyond to join forces and support what Oakland International has started. Their involvement and intervention have provided credibility and we can now make promises with every confidence they will be delivered.
“I wish to personally thank Dean and Sallie Attwell from Oakland International for seeing something in us as they have quite literally changed everything. Between them, Lea Turner, Bidfood, and the thousands of small donors, we will achieve the near impossible.”
For more information about Hope4 and the wonderful work they are doing please visit their website: https://hope4.org/