Within the project “GURT accelerates Donbas cities to start up”, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), entrepreneurs from Novogrodivka and Selydove of Donetsk oblast received grants for business development, which will create new services for community residents.
Out of 31 participants of the “Start Your Business” training, 20 future entrepreneurs submitted their business plans for consideration by the selection committee. Five of them received financial support for starting or developing their own businesses.
A private entrepreneur from Selydove Sergyi Sokolenko who owns a cafe and often faces poor delivery services in his hometown became one of the business plan contest winners.
“Communicating with other café owners who encountered the same problem inspired me with the business idea of creating a courier service for deliveries of ready-to-eat meals in Selydove. I did not intend to apply with my business plan for the competition, because I did not believe that it is possible to get funding without any connections. However, after participating in the business café and “Start Your Business” training, I have decided that I had to try. After receiving the start-up grant, I had plans to participate in other projects connected with business development. Funding has allowed me to expand the business and employ two internally displaced persons. With the potential expansion, I plan to create even more jobs. Previously, I was afraid that my idea could be stolen and did not believe in funding. Now I regularly look for opportunities for business development at GURT web-portal,” – Sergyi Sokolenko from Selydove.
Another winner – Natalia Gudok from Novogrodіvka – founded a service for organizing holidays for children and adults.
“There is an unmet need for holidays service, especially for children, in our city. There are only isolated cases of providing such services by other residents, but only in combination with the main job,” – Natalia Gudok from Novogrodіvka. She is sure: the development of her business will contribute to improving the quality of holidays organization for children and adults in Novogrodivka and beyond.
Olena Slyvynska, who thanks to the financial support of the project has been preparing for the opening of the bakery, became one more winner from Selydove. A feature of her products is the lack of yeast in the process of bran manufacturing, which will produce bread that is more beneficial. For Olena, opening her own bakery will be the first experience of entrepreneurial activity.
“The three-day “Start Your Business” training program taught me financial planning. In addition, the training has led to the need to consider potential opportunities for cooperation with corporate clients and the creation of related businesses,” – Olena Slyvynska from Selydove.
Financial support was also given to business ideas of Karina Natkina (Selydove) for providing photo-shooting services and Ivan Abakumov (Novogrodivka) for the opening of a car wash. The project envisaged not only start-up grants for business development but also a series of measures to identify the needs of communities and improve the conditions for entrepreneurs.
“We need more projects, which can help entrepreneurs to improve their knowledge and skills. Entrepreneurs-beginners are often afraid that they will not be heard. Thanks to GURT’s project, they have seen that both government and donor organizations are interested in their development. This is an example for a community that it is possible to develop a business plan on-site and get help in its implementation,” – deputy mayor of Selydove, member of the selection committee of the business plan contest Inna Tereshchenko.
Within the project “GURT accelerates Donbas cities to start up”, which was implemented by GURT Resource Center, two three-day trainings “Start your Business” were held. More than 30 entrepreneurs gained new skills due to the participation in the training program that took place in the form of mini-lectures and presentations using the method of brainstorming, discussions, individual exercises, and business games.
“During the training, I gained valuable financial planning knowledge. This skill allowed me to see a more complete picture of my business development. Before the training, I did not make a business plan and did not conduct SWOT-analysis. Although I previously knew it was needed, I did not consider it to be important enough,” – Sergyi Sokolenko from Selydove.
The project was aimed not only at the development of entrepreneurship in the communities but also at the promotion of the cohesion of local authorities, entrepreneurs and community activists in solving common problems. In January 2019, GURT’s experts conducted in Novogrodivka and Selydove events in world café format named “What small business services are required for our community?”
“Entrepreneurs and those who plan to open their own business found out where they could get the resources to create and develop their own businesses. It was also useful to hear thoughts of the community about services they lack,” – chief of the economic development department of Novogrodivka City Council Natalya Hrytsenko.
The final stage of the project was the holding of round tables “Support for the development of small business” in Novogrodivka and Selydove, attended by representatives of the city council, city employment centers, businesses, and public organizations. Participants have come up with proposals on measures to promote small business development.