Jobs and «entrepreneurial thinking»: the results of small business support projects in Ukraine

On November 29, 2017, the business brunch «A viable small business is the foundation of civil society in Ukraine» was held in Kyiv, organized by the GURT Resource Center. The guests of the event were representatives of donor organizations and participants of small business support programs.

The participants of the business brunch spoke about the development and stimulation of small business in Ukraine, which is the economic basis of sustainable development of communities and the foundation of civil society. During both Revolutions, the small business was the key driver of social change and the basis of the volunteer movement. The contribution of small businesses to the development of local communities is growing every year and becoming more and more visible.

Yekaterina Mityaev, project manager for entrepreneurship and employment support, as the representative of the charitable organization World Jewish Relief, which united British Jewry, said that one of the directions of their organization is helping those who can and want to work. WJR helps people earn money through employment or the development of their own businesses. This, in turn, leads to the creation of jobs, and enterprises creating jobs are the best hope and support of the economy.

«I consider microloans to be a dubious proposition,» Mityaev confesses. — Because not all people are inclined to entrepreneurship, most are hired. And providing such people with assistance will not automatically create successful entrepreneurs from them. Also, in the case of microcredits, responsibility lies only with the one who received it. And our organization provides microgrants, and we share responsibility: together with our entrepreneurs we are responsible for the success of their businesses. »

«If we aim to help people develop their business, they must think of themselves as entrepreneurs, and not as a charitable organization that distributes humanitarian assistance,» WJR continues. — Money comes from private donations, we are not a big bureaucratic organization, so we can afford to be flexible and adjust our plans in the process. Our strategies are based on «entrepreneurial thinking»: we do not create a certain model and «relax», we constantly monitor processes and if we see interesting opportunities, then change the direction of investing, we save resources, pay attention to profitability. We do not throw our entrepreneurs after the stage of creating a business plan, but closely cooperate with them in the future, and our assistance is not universal, it depends on the results of the activities of our project participants. »

One of the participants in the small business support project, implemented by the RC GURT, funded by the WJR, was Svitlana Kotenko, co-founder and managing partner of «Babusyna torbynka», Foodex, «Smackui Vdoma» (organic food from farmers, health food delivery service). and food sets).

«There is no perfect time to start a business,» said the businesswoman. «You are either too young or old, there is a crisis in the country, you do not have time, and so on.» However, I believe that our future depends on what we do today. Entrepreneurs are not born, they become. There were no entrepreneurs in my environment and in the family, and I was far from it. But if you have the desire, the ideas, the energy and the willingness to take responsibility, then find opportunities, partners and investment. We started with our businesses in 2012, and then in 2014 and 2015. It was when the Maidan passed in the country, a war began and a crisis broke out. However, this did not prevent us from developing successful projects. By the way, it may look unexpectable, but after exchanging experiences with colleagues from other countries, I realized that Ukraine is the best place for startups.»

A significant role in the formation of small businesses was played by the educational program conducted by the trainers of the RС GURT under the ILO program. Sergiy Savchuk, National Coordinator of the International Labor Organization in Ukraine (ILO), said: «Employment is one of the strategic objectives of the International Labor Organization, and given that, according to our estimates, about 2/3 of the jobs are provided by small and medium businesses, therefore their development is «in the heart» of our organization’s activities. The ILO has a range of products aimed at the development of small and medium-sized enterprises. 4 of them are part of the «Start and Improve Your Business» program, which has spread to over 100 countries worldwide, with over 15 million participants attended. In Ukraine, thanks to the project «Development of Female Entrepreneurship», more than 200 jobs were created during the first year, and every fourth educated woman started her business.»

«We co-operated with GURT in 2008-09, when we implemented the program» Start and Improve Your Business», — adds Mr. Savchuk. — Ukraine was the first country in Central and Eastern Europe where this program was implemented. We worried about how it «walked» here, but realized that it was successful and had a great potential. After we officially concluded the cooperation in 2010, the program continued to live and develop with the support of GURT: it updates the program and adapts it to the new requirements of the legislation or the needs of the target groups. The program is actually quite universal: we first worked with female entrepreneurs, and then it was introduced among other target groups: for women returning from maternity leave, for IPP, for HIV-positive people, who can not work due to physical disabilities in full, and so on. Thus, the program proves its versatility, and GURT — its ability to effectively implement it. I am very pleased with our cooperation. »

Vitaliy Fedchuk, Corporate Affairs and Public Relations Directorate Monsanto Ukraine, shared the impressions from the implementation of another small business development project: «We are an agrarian company and work with people from the countryside, therefore, they chose the direction for projects that solve critical needs. rural communities. One such project is «Small business development in rural communities of Ukraine», which we did with the GURT. We started work in 4 regions, visited 65 communities, selected 90 companies that took part in the training. After presentation of business plans, 36 enterprises-winners received grants from us. After half a year, we monitored the results: more than 90% continued to develop their business.»

«To what we drew attention when working with the project, — shares Mr. Fedchuk. — First, the interest, the motivation of the participants, is the main factor of success. Second, the recommendations of the local partners, because they work in the field and know «what is breathing»: who wants to work, and who just get financial assistance. It is also important to stimulate critical thinking about problems and solutions. Even if people do not win the grant, they are thinking about how to change lives in their communities. One of our approaches is to provide development tools, not just the funds themselves. We also do not provide 100% security, because when there is a contribution, the interest of partners, then the project is likely to be successful. And last but not least, the effectiveness of the project is evidenced by the fact that it continues to work without our help.»

Vasyl Romanyuk, Project Coordinator of the Swedish Embassy in Ukraine, summed up the meeting: «The successors of the success presented today are the mini-model that it is important to promote in this kind of activity. GURT combines the formats and mechanisms that demonstrate an effective and consistent result. I am impressed by the results of cross-sectoral cooperation promoted by GURT. Today, there are representatives of World Jewish Relief, the International Labor Organization, Monsanto, and the Swedish Embassy. We are happy to support those projects that GURT can find and develop. Get involved as much as possible, and we, for our part, will enjoy this partnership».

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