April 6, 2018
The «Productive Communities» project, implemented by GURT Resource Center with World Jewish Relief, has reached the culmination stage. The project is intended to increase the potential of existing social enterprises and small businesses in the Kyiv region. Its participants participated in trainings, received professional consultations, developed their own business plans and learned about the experience of other successful entrepreneurs who have already implemented their projects with the help of GURT. After the business plan was held, the winning projects that received funding were identified. From the beginning of 2018 the participants received 216 thousand hryvnias from the project as financial support.
Three communities from the Kyiv region were selected for the project: Borodyanka, Boyarka and Vasilkov. Meetings with representatives of local authorities were organized in 2017 to determine the interest of community participation in the project. Subsequently, World Cafe events were organized to determine the needs of the communities, as well as «Start your Business» training under the International Labor Organization program for stakeholders. The trainings addressed various business issues: marketing, financial planning, costing, personnel management, etc. According to the comments of the project participants, these trainings were useful even for those who already had experience in entrepreneurial activity. Throughout the project, participants received expert advice on financial, legal and other aspects of business planning, and they were provided with support to assess the potential of their business.
Within the framework of the «Productive Communities» project, during the study visit, the participants were able to inspire the successful experience of the project’s entrepreneur, already implemented by the GURT Resource Center. The wayhow those who received grant support earlier (during 2015-2017) were working was demonstrated in press-tour, held in October 2017. During the Business Brunch «A viable small business is the foundation of civil society in Ukraine», informal communication between donors and participants in small business support programs took place.
In the beginning of 2018, a business plan competition was elaborated by project participants, in which 11 projects were submitted. Four of them received financial support from the World Jewish Relief organization.
Private entrepreneur Vitaliy Rybachenko (Borodyanka) provides hairdressing services for 20 years, since 2013 — as a private entrepreneur. He noticed his business «vein», as he himself believes, andit was his already a present wife, who provided a room for his activities. Realizing that Vitaliy has the potential to encourage others and create a creative team of masters, he told him that he would not work for a long time. Really, this happened. At first he received permission from the village council to re-equip the room in his own private home at the hairdresser, later it was possible to rent a separate room. It was the village council who gave him information about the possibility of participation in the grant project.
Vitaliy recognizes the development of a commenced case, because expenditures and utilities are constantly rising, while privileges for small entrepreneurs are not foreseen. Therefore, the help from the World Jewish Relief was very relevant. Also, thanks to expert support in writing business plans, the entrepreneur managed to understand some of the shortcomings in their activities and fix them to further develop their own beauty salon more successfully.
The second winner was a service center for citizen servicing in Borodyanka, founded by Maksim Yerokhin and Andriy Duka. Mr. Andrew said that he started his professional career as a volunteer of one of the UNDP projects, provided technical support to the Center for Psychological Development in his city, and learned about the grant program for social entrepreneurs implementing GURT.
«We have practically no services in the region to provide such services (for repairing computers, appliances, etc.), there are separate masters, but there is no center», — Mr. Ducka explains the relevance of his business. Andriy and Maxim’s services are addressed not only by individuals, but also by organizations. The pilot site, where the masters implemented their technical skills, was one of the local schools, now it is planned to work with the city hospital, where a local Internet network and all the associated infrastructure for access to the Internet for doctors and staff will be created. The experience of working with such objects as a school and a hospital indicates that the project participants have sufficient skills and abilities to service organizations. In addition, they also help to find work for their fellow countrymen — currently the Center for three people has been employed, with three others having a partnership agreement.
The social project — a sensory room for children with ASD (autism spectrum disorders) in Boyarka also received support. The author of this project, Lyudmila Yaschenko, rightly notes that in order to do such a thing, one must devote themselves to life and believe in the possibility of making the world better. For two years, she was looking for sources of financing for this important project and learned about the possibility of participating in the grant program through cooperation with the city council of Boyarka.
As Ms. Lyudmila says, in Boyarka there are no other rehabilitation centers or similar institutions, and there are a lot of families who need it. So she wanted to help them and increase the chances of such children to be integrated into the world. Children could develop better if they had opportunities, and parents often do not have basic conditions (residential, financial and others) in order for the child to develop motor skills and feelings. The founder believes that the discovery of such a non-standard project as the sensory room has a significant difference from the store or production and requires that it be «a matter of life». Now the room, over which Lyudmila works, is in the process of arrangement, and the opening will take place in three weeks.
GURT Resource Center has been supporting small business development for several years, working with various donor organizations. From 2014, effective and successful cooperation with World Jewish Relief.
«For GURT Resource Center one of the priority areas of activity is to support small businesses in communities,» — commented Bogdan Maslych, Executive Director of GURT. — We are looking for entrepreneurs who need support to start their own business, because we believe that small business is able to support social initiatives the most in the community in which it operates. We teach them, we help create a business plan, and we provide partial financial support for its implementation. It is important for us to support those entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs whose services are most in demand in the community — then such a business will surely succeed».
«Working through committed, local, trusted partners, the overall aim of World Jewish Relief’s Livelihood Development portfolio is to economically empower disadvantaged individuals to build prosperous and fulfilling lives for themselves and their families. Our livelihood work is guided by “Eight Levels of Tzedakah (Charity)” as we strongly believe that the most fundamental human need is to feel needed and capable. The highest form of Tzedakah is to help someone find a job or set them up in business. It preserves their dignity and transforms them from being a recipient into one with the capacity to give to others. Our ultimate goal is to help create flourishing communities, where everybody has an opportunity to fulfil their potential while sharing a sense of purpose and prosperity. All projects in our comprehensive livelihood development portfolio encourage economic self-sufficiency through employment, increased productivity and business development», — Yekaterina Mitiaev, project manager for entrepreneurship and employment support (World Jewish Relief), said.
«Businesses that can create jobs for others are the best hope of any country trying to put a serious dent in its poverty rate. Considering World Jewish Relief’s commitment to maximising the impact of our resources, we encourage our partner organisations to apply the cost-effective approach to supporting entrepreneurship and consequent job creation in the countries where we operate. It is well-aligned with an emerging trend of integrating of socially conscious business practices with the efficiency and sustainability of the private sector. Its centrepiece is provision of “equity” rather than credit because “micro equity” financing reduces the risk by sharing it between the entrepreneur and investor and lower transaction costs. With such shared risk, disadvantaged business people can start ventures or adopt innovations that might be considered too risky to be financed through borrowed capital. In a similar vein to relationship between a venture capitalists and their investees, we believe that relationships between World Jewish Relief and our partners as well as between partners and their participants imply shared responsibility between two parties for success of the “joint ventures”.
We support our partner organisations to offer tailored business support to a range of small entrepreneurs and self-employed individuals. More successful individuals receive more investment because they are the ones with greater potential to generate “social return” on this investment and either create more jobs for more vulnerable individuals or generate demand for goods and services from smaller suppliers. Owing to the fact that these businesses create jobs and offer missing services and goods, we consider them “social ventures” which combine financial sustainability with quantifiable social impact.
Ukraine is our largest country of operation and we strongly believe that Ukrainian people are the country’s most important asset. We are keen to harness the energy of its aspiring small entrepreneurs who are defying the odds and are building their country’s modern economy. These people need somebody prepared to share their risks, who can guide them and support them professionally and personally through non-secure process of developing a new business in a very challenging economic environment. We are impressed with high standards of support provided by GURT to their participants and we are inspired by your commitment to strengthening Ukrainian civil society and business sector. Through the project, together we are not just building business acumen and provide funds to small business owners but we are making an important contribution to the slow process of strengthening local communities and transforming business culture», — Yekaterina Mitiaev said.
The «Productive Communities» project is being implemented by GURT Resource Center with financial support from World Jewish Relief. It promotes the development of Borodyanka, Boyarka and Vasilkov communities in the Kyiv oblast by strengthening the capacity of small businesses and the inclusion of vulnerable segments of the population in these communities. The goal of the project is to help raise the income level of the inhabitants of these communities by supporting the creation of a number of successful businesses.