Every nation has two kinds of people – citizens and foreigners. The expatriates, or “expats” as almost everyone calls foreigners, are motivated to leave their homeland for various reasons – adventure, money and love among them.
Here are the links to the three categories of rankings for the Most Successful Expats.
The 10 Richest Expats.
The 20 Most Influential Expats
Honorable Mention - Rich, but unknown net worth
Foreigners account for only a tiny sliver of Ukraine’s population of 46 million people – maybe as little as 0.2 percent, or roughly 100,000 people, including students.
Some get homesick and return to their native lands. Others experience failure and leave virtually unnoticed. Only a select few rise to the top and stay, influencing their adopted nation in profound ways.
This is their story.
“I can’t imagine Ukraine without them [expats living in Ukraine]. They’re model citizens, especially the young ones, who show that with hard work you can succeed.”
- Anna Derevyanko, executive director of the European Business Association.
“I can’t imagine Ukraine without them,” Anna Derevyanko, executive director of the European Business Association, said of expats living in Ukraine.
“They’re model citizens, especially the young ones, who show that with hard work you can succeed.”
Succeeding as a foreigner in Ukraine requires overcoming daunting obstacles and challenges. This is why the Kyiv Post decided to identify two sometimes overlapping categories of foreigners – the richest and the most influential – for a first-ever ranking of its kind.
It wasn’t easy, particularly coming up with the financial evaluations. The newspaper enlisted the help of Phoenix Capital.
With the Kyiv investment bank's advice, the Kyiv Post developed a list of the top 10 richest foreigners and estimated their fortunes. We also gave honorable mention to a second category of foreigners who, while wealthy, had fortunes too difficult to estimate.
The 20-member "most influential" category is far more subjective.
The Kyiv Post sought to include those from all walks of life – business, entertainment, publishing, religion and non-governmental organizations – who have helped shape Ukrainian life.
Читайте про цей проект українською мовою.
All of these foreigners have stories that could fill books. We took the most interesting snippets of their lives for profiles that highlight how they expatriated from five continental homelands and what inroads they have made.
The newspaper came up with 38 names in all. Five expats – Jed Sunden, Tomas Fiala, Bjoern Stendel, Robert Shetler-Jones and Jorge Intriago – are crossovers, making both the richest and most influential categories.
The Kyiv Post also sometimes put two people into one spot because of their close business ties, such as the Sweere family, the father-and-son tandem who have run a successful agribusiness since the dawn of Ukraine’s independence.
Some have made a mark in finance (Tomas Fiala), others in agriculture (Carl Sturen and Johan Boden), the service sector (Robert Koenig, Falk Nebiger, Beni Golani and Michael Don), entertainment (Bohdan Batruch), media (Jed Sunden and Joseph Lemiere) or metals (Kyiv Post publisher and ISTIL Group owner Mohammad Zahoor).
Some served as U.S. Peace Corps volunteers and stayed behind (Jorge Zukoski) to lobby for businesses.
Others came to study and seized business opportunities (Robert Shetler-Jones). Still more had a spiritual calling to tend to their flock of believers (Rabbi Bleich and Sunday Adelaja).
Several trends emerged in putting together the elite list. Almost all of the foreigners profiled in the most financially successful category – richest and honorable mention – have created wealth, as opposed to acquiring it from government.
The “crony capitalism” privatizations of state assets after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union are how the first great private fortunes were accumulated in independent Ukraine.
“Unfortunately, there’s not enough long-term, established expats living in Ukraine.”
- Mychailo Wynnyckyj, director of the doctoral school at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy.
By our count, the richest foreigners created more than 10,000 jobs.
Many have attempted to introduce the best business practices from abroad and implant them in Ukraine, with mixed success in a nation that is still suffering from a Soviet hangover.
Many have also given back to the community, financially or by volunteering for worthy social causes.
“Unfortunately, there’s not enough long-term, established expats living in Ukraine,” said Mychailo Wynnyckyj, director of the doctoral school at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, one of the nation’s top universities.
“Ukraine would be a far better place if Ukraine’s powers that be acted like these expats.”
Coming up with a simple definition of an expatriate proved tricky.
The Kyiv Post favored foreigners who live in Ukraine or are believed to spend most of their time here.
The newspaper included 10 people either born in what is Ukrainian territory today or who have Ukrainian ethnicity.
We excluded those who have taken Ukrainian citizenship, such as former First Lady Kateryna Yushchenko, an American citizen until 2005, and Walid Harfouche, deputy head of the Ukrainian National State Television Company, who is from Lebanon.
The Kyiv Post also didn't count Russians, as well, for the sake of simplicity.
Ethnic Russians are Ukraine’s largest minority – some eight million of them, or 22 percent of the population. There is also a lot of mixed Ukrainian-Russian ethnicity and, until 1991, Russians were not foreigners.
Others would have easily made the cut but they simply don’t spend enough time in Ukraine anymore. For example, George Chopivsky used the wealth he made in the United States to start a business in Ukraine in 1991. He owned four grain elevators, a feed mill and two chicken operations while farming 3,000 hectares and was the first to market packaged eggs here.
And finally, others may be more deserving, but they weren’t more forthcoming and we couldn’t find enough confirmation of their wealth to justify putting them on the list.
Trailblazing American Alex Sokol may be in this category. He opened Ukraine’s first Western health care operation, the American Medical Center, with his father and brother and has lived here since 1995.
And there is also another American worth mentioning: Californian Michael Perry’s construction company has had a hand in building or renovating many of Kyiv’s most prominent buildings, such as Arena City and the American Embassy.
So, with all the imperfections, qualifications and ambiguities, the Kyiv Post is proud to offer the first-ever list of Ukraine’s most successful expats.
The list of the Most Successful Expats:
Richest Expats (with estimated net worth):
1. Mohammad Zahoor
2. Tomas Fiala
3. Bohdan Batruch
4. Michael Don and Beni Golani
5. David Sweere and Daniel Sweere
6. Johan Boden and Carl Sturen
7. Jerzy Konik
8. Robert Koenig and Falk Nebiger
9. Jed Sunden
10. Joseph Lemiere
Richest expats (without estimated net worth):
James T. Hitch
Most Influential Expats:
1. Savik Shuster
2. Robert Shetler-Jones
3. Jorge Zukoski
4. Tomas Fiala
5. Philip Griffin
6. Peter Vanhecke
7. Jock Mendoza-Wilson
8. Jed Sunden
9. Sean Carr
10. Yakov D. Bleich
11. George Logush
12. Jorge Intriago
13. Myron Wasylyk
14. Natalie Jaresko
16. Sunday Adelaja
17. H. Brian Mefford
18. Eric Aigner
19. Christina Pendzola-Vitovych
20. Bohdan Kulchyckyj and Petro Rondiak
Read also 'In praise of expats' editorial.
Kyiv Post staff writers Mark Rachkevych, Graham Stack and John Marone can be reached at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, and email@example.com, correspondingly.
|About the project
To create the first-ever ranking of Ukraine’s richest expatriates, the Kyiv Post spent several months conducting interviews with more than 40 foreigners, in consultation with Phoenix Capital, an investment bank.
Our tally was based on publicly available information, personal interviews with the expatriates and consultations with the wider business community.
Phoenix Capital conducted asset valuations.
In the end, the Kyiv Post ranked 14 people in the Top 10 richest spots.
Our estimates are a snapshot of wealth this fall and are by no means exhaustive or definitive, given the difficulty in quantifying these fortunes.
The participation of Phoenix Capital allowed the Kyiv Post to publish with a greater degree of confidence, supported by interviews with the expatriates themselves, but with no ironclad certainty.
The ranking of the 20 most influential foreigners was a subjective undertaking and was made by the Kyiv Post staff.
These rankings are, it should be noted, independent of Kyiv Post publisher Mohammad Zahoor and his ISTIL Group.