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My own digital business in Canada: the real experience of an immigrant from Ukraine

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Eugene is very successful in developing IT technologies in the agricultural sector. His experience is in demand not only in Canada, but also in Australia and European countries.

Living in Canada, working around the world

Hello from Canada! My name is Alex Pavlenko.

I will now be recording an interview with Eugene, who is torn between several countries. He is digitizing agriculture, and he says that Canada is many years behind Ukraine.

— (Alex) Eugene, hi!

— (Evgeny) Hello! Well, not for many years, but only for 5. This is not that much compared to other countries. But I do not take these figures from the ceiling, they are real figures.

— (Alex) First of all, how long have you been in Canada, what is your status there and what do you do? What is digitization?

— (Eugene) I came to Canada in the fall of 2015. Soon it will be almost 4 years since I live in Canada. At the moment I am in Ukraine because I have projects all over the world from Far East to Australia, Europe, Ukraine and so on.

What is digitization? In English, it is called digital farming. This is a new stage, a new level of precision farming, i.e. telematics, autopilots, drone control, images from drones, satellites, software; harvesters, tractors worth a million dollars are already fully automated and independent of humans, that is, roughly speaking, there is one employee, who controls from the office. This has been developed in Ukraine for a long time; I have been doing this for the last 8 years, starting from Ukraine, and smoothly moving to Canada.

Level of agro-technology in Canada and Ukraine

— (Alex) I recently had an interview with a Canadian farmer, but as I understand it, he works more with his hands, specifically in the field, so to speak. And you are introducing technologies with which all sorts of drones fly, yes, combine harvesters work, controlled from the office. Is there really such a thing in Ukraine?

— (Eugene) They look up to us. Well, how, I can tell you, more than that. These are not my words, I'm just quoting. Let's just say, let me get ahead of myself: I lived for the first two years in the city of Regina, which is the capital city of Saskatchewan province with about 220,000 people. I currently reside in the city of Calgary, Alberta province. It ranked 4th in 2018 in terms of standard of living worldwide, and Canada has already ranked 1st in terms of standard of living in general as a country this year.

Sitting at one of the conferences in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, I was, as usual, on my laptop, always busy with something, and there were probably 200 people at the conference. And then the director of one of the leading companies (which positions itself as the No. 1 company in the world in digital agriculture) said: "Now in Ukraine they are implementing, integrating these digital technologies at a high level — they are the No. 1 in the world. And everyone is like this — one! — turn around: "Єvgen, Єvgen!" They know that I'm from Ukraine because my passport says "Steven" in Ukrainian, but in Russian it says "Yevgeniy". And they say: "Yevgen, this is about your country, is it really true?" I turn around and tell them: "Of course it's true, I've been trying to explain it to you for three years already..."

— (Alex) It's not coming!

— (Evgeniy)...Yes. We have already put this on the rails and things like that. IT technologies are very, very well developed here, it's very good. There was simply an oversupply of these specialists in Ukraine, and they found their way into the agricultural business.

We have almost 70-80% of farmers with higher education, and in Canada, as well as in the United States (you can compare these two more or less similar countries), higher education is very expensive. Accordingly, not everyone can afford to get one. Only 20% of farmers there, as far as I know statistics, have higher education. It is very difficult to communicate on this plane.

Comparing immigration to Canada and Australia

— (Alex) You have lived in Australia and in Canada. Why did you choose Canada?

— (Eugene) Canada is very loyal on immigration issues. Let's just say that we have already obtained permanent residence status in Canada. An Australian employer found me through my YouTube channel (I have several YouTube channels), flew me to Canada, we signed a contract, and he started doing the paperwork himself. If I did the documents myself in Canada, I was interested, then I no longer had time for the Australian ones, he did, paying all the money for it.

When I arrived, when I lived there — everything, in principle, could stay: there was work and life on the ocean, some of the best beaches in the world in general there, in Esperanza. Kangaroos come in with you, wild ones. This is in all seriousness, I have videos on my channels. But when March 2018 came around, there were steep changes in Australian immigration law and there were very big requirements about IELTS, credential verification.

In general, what I say: Canada opens all the doors — and Australia tightens the screws on the immigration issue, every year it is more and more difficult to get there. And I figured out that in Canada I have, let's say, 1.5 years to get citizenship, and in Australia — 7 years. Well sort of 1,5 years and 7 years is a big difference, and plus, if you are in Australia, you have to be tied to one employer for 4 years to get permanent residency. Whereas in Canada, some people get permanent residency while still in Ukraine, or even in six months, depending on what province and what occupation.

— (Alex) I was first in Ukraine, then I was in Poland, and I arrived and got a permanent residence permit as soon as I arrived. And I don't work anywhere, i.e. I work for myself.

— (Eugene) Another funny thing happened: when I finally got my permanent residence permit, I went to the tax office in Regina (Saskatchewan) and I said, "That's it, I want to open my own company, I want to register my name. Can I finally?" They say: actually, you can. You could, they say, from day one you could have come to do it. I say, "What do you mean?" They say: on a tourist visa, you can open a PE in Canada (in Saskatchewan one hundred percent). They don't care how you pay taxes. Even if you came as a tourist, opened some office there, put an executive director and just pay taxes, they don't care. This is a cool business model. I was so confused, I thought: "Well, man, I waited for 2 years, ha-ha, to come and tell me: you could do it before". Well, first of all, I could not do it, because I was assigned to a specific work permit, but my ex-wife, let's say, since she went, as they often say, a steam train or wagon, had an open work permit and anywhere in Canada could work. You could register it all on her.

Believe me, if there are loopholes how to do all this in Ukraine, in Canada it can be done the same way. If you work legally, if you are a good, shall we say, worker, you are a law-abiding citizen and you pay taxes — they don't care what you do.

Migration around the world as a principle of life

— (Alex) After obtaining Canadian citizenship, do you plan to return to Ukraine permanently?

— (Eugene) Well, look, at this stage, since I'm the last year, it just so happens... I want to warn everyone that the immigration process is not an easy thing in terms of relationships, family even. Even if you come as husband and wife or boyfriend and girlfriend, be prepared that some will develop and some will not, there will be complications. We have not been spared this either. Basically, I've pretty much been on my own for the last year. And I can afford to fly now. Fortunately, there are no children, i.e. children are not affected, and we just parted as friends. But when I had a family, in principle, I could stay in Canada, fly not as often, I had enough time in Canada as well.

But now I'm more free, so I was planning to come back after getting my citizenship, maybe for a year or two to Ukraine (I still have an apartment in Kiev, in Dnipro, I can afford it) and work with these technologies back, according to my specifics. I'm not calling everyone to do that. In my situation I can afford it, and I want to pay more attention to it, because in Ukraine there are just colossal processes with these IT technologies.

Then, for some reason I like, if not Australia (because I still have things there and even have my diplomas), then Argentina, Buenos Aires. There, I think, is the 5th or 6th largest diaspora of Ukrainians. Well, maybe for a year or two, we`ll see. We live in the world of globalization now. All you need is the Internet and an international airport.

Let's say, I am a person who is more private business, I do not like to work from 8 to 17, although I worked, of course, yes. But by doing so you ruin your, let's say, such plans, ideas. And when the moment comes, when you are already 40-50 years old, you realize that you have missed a lot of time, you have not realized something.

In my understanding, it is possible to move with a family for 3-4 years. This is the psychology of Western countries — 3-4 years in one place. There is such a notion: coefficient of performance, further it decreases, a person ceases to be interesting, he needs some development. We have always been easy on the rise in this respect.

"Canada is a fairy tale come true."

— (Evgeniy) People have such a feeling, as if if Ukraine or Canada — that's the end of the world. Yes it is... If you went and looked, it's all at such a high level. Especially Ukrainian diasporas help a lot around the world, we are very friendly people. And I realized this very coolly when I got there in the fall of 2015.

Interesting fact: I happened to meet my dorm mate after 15 years in a supermarket in Canada. What is this about, how is it possible? I must dedicate the whole blog to Canadian culture, Ukrainian cuisine, because in the times of Western Canada (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta) there were Ukrainians persecuted by the Russian Empire, the Soviets, the present Russia, which means that they are highly honored. There are such names as Odessa in Saskatchewan, Lemberg (in German it means "love") in Saskatchewan, there is a city, I think, Yorkton, in which the streets are signed in Ukrainian.

Well, just so you understand, when I bought my first car (literally, in 2 or 3 weeks I had to get. I had a job, but I was not satisfied with the working one, I went to get a Ford Fiesta, it was a European car, I had to have a small car), an interesting story happened: I did not know about the limit of $800 per day in the bank. And I did not have enough money when I had to go to get the car, and it was 220 kilometers. So, a woman from Lugansk lent me $4,000, Vitalik from Kherson gave me a free ride for 200 kilometers and Andrei from Sumy sold me a Ford Fiesta. Just so you understand, I am thinking: "Where am I, in Ukraine? Are all Ukrainians here? I bought the car from the Ukrainian, I lent it to him, I gave him a lift". I had a culture shock for about 3 months after my first visit. It is very cool.

— (Alex) Guys, I leave Eugene's contacts on channels in YouTube 1, YouTube 2, on account in Instagram. But a request to you: look at all the information first, and only then ask questions.

— (Eugene) For adaptation, for better adaptation of the Ukrainian people, let's say, Canada is the best. I think I made the right choice.

— (Alex) Eugene, thank you very much for the interview! Guys, give me the likes, subscribe to channel, subscribe to my Instagram too, not only to Eugene's Instagram. And see you in Canada!

— (Eugene) Canada is a very cool country. In terms of its nature it can't be compared to anything else. For the sake of nature alone, you should probably go there. If you want to wake up in the morning, open a window, as in my case, on the ground floor, and have squirrels come running in and steal nuts; if you want to sit in the evening, just drinking wine or some smoothie, and a deer will come up to you and you will feed it from your hands (it's in the city), if you want to see hares, that live in families under your balcony, if you want such beauty, you like real snow, nice winter (-40 in Canada is like -20 in Ukraine, don't worry, it's dry climate) — then you are there, all winter people are there. This is a fairy tale, which became a reality for me and, let's say, for my family.

Photo: @my_agro

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