Senior figures from across the Ukrainian real estate industry gathered at Kyiv’s Holiday Inn Hotel in December for a roundtable discussion addressing the challenges of raising Ukraine’s profile on the global investment map. The event was part of preparations for Ukraine’s participation at the spring 2020 MIPIM international real estate forum in Cannes. The next edition of the global property industry’s flagship event will take place on 10-13 March in southern France and will feature the largest ever Ukrainian delegation.
“As one of the organizers of Ukraine’s 2020 MIPIM delegation, I believe the country as a whole, and the Ukrainian business community in particular, needs to be more strategic in its approach to major international initiatives of this nature. Based on our prior experience of similar international trade events, foreign investors still know very little about Ukraine but are interested in learning more,” offered Anna Nestulia, the founding partner of Ukraine’s MIPIM representation and CEO of Invest in Projects (B2B Marketing Agency).
With Ukrainian Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk setting the target of USD 50 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) over the next five years, Ukraine clearly has much work to do in order to achieve a leap in FDI. Cushman and Wakefield’s Volodymyr Mysak provided context for current international investor involvement in the Ukrainian property market. While neighboring Poland attracted approximately USD 7 billion in real estate investments during 2018, the comparative figure for Ukraine was USD 300 million.
MIPIM representative in Ukraine Dmytro Dopiro argued that Poland’s relative success in attracting international investment to the country’s real estate sector highlights the value of a consistent approach to promotional efforts on the global stage. Poland, he explained, has a long-term approach to promoting the country’s brand among real estate industry investors, and this includes regular participation at leading industry events like MIPIM. In 2019, 12 different Polish cities were represented at MIPIM, with municipal authorities and local real estate businesses typically working together to finance participation. In contrast, Kyiv was the only Ukrainian city to feature its own stand at MIPIM last year.
Ukraine’s plans for an enhanced presence at MIPIM 2020 are part of broader efforts to raise the country’s international profile. Ukraine has also benefitted in recent years from greater prominence at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos. Ukrainian investor and Aventure Capital managing partner Andriy Kolodyuk was the initiator of Ukraine House Davos, which debuted in 2019 and proved one of the most effective brand promotion tools for the country in recent years. Kolodyuk explained that Ukraine House Davos was only possible thanks to private sector backing, and underlined the importance of cooperation rather than competition when promoting Ukrainian investment opportunities to international audiences. The numbers tell their own story. Five years ago, Davos hosted just 15 Ukrainian participants, whereas in 2019, the figure was 145.
Toronto-Kyiv president and managing partner Yuriy Kryvosheya has a long record of promoting Ukraine internationally and heads the supervisory board of the country’s 2020 delegation at MIPIM. He identified MIPIM as one of three key international events for Ukraine during the coming year, along with Davos and EXPO 2020 in Dubai. Based on many years of experience attending such global gatherings, he said there is already considerable interest in Ukraine, with many investors closely monitoring the situation in the country.
Kryvosheya argued that Kyiv is now well-placed to become a real estate investment hub, and can emerge as the next destination for real estate investors who have already developed a presence in nearby regional markets such as Poland, Istanbul and Moscow. The challenge now is to move beyond the low profile and negative stereotypes that prevent international investors from fully appreciating the opportunities today’s Ukrainian real estate market represents.