Empowering Small and Medium Businesses: Support Initiatives in Ukraine During Times of War

Published: May 27, 2024 Reading time: 6 minutes
Empowering Small and Medium Businesses: Support Initiatives in Ukraine During Times of War
© Foto: People in Need

The war in Ukraine has affected all spheres of life. It has hit businesses hard—hundreds of which have been destroyed by shelling. And those that managed to maintain production faced staff shortages, power outages, and shrinking markets. But businesses are adapting to the new conditions. Thanks to funding from the American people, we have supported entrepreneurs with grants. Meet the motivated entrepreneurs who do not give up and look for development opportunities.

The DOVIRA project is being implemented in Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk oblasts. Many businesses have moved to western Ukraine from the war zone. Some of them had to start their business from scratch. Therefore, financial support is vital to businesses in this challenging period. It is also important for local industries as they too, have suffered from the war.

In selecting grant recipients, the competition committee considered factors such as the social orientation of the business and the number of jobs to be created. Additional points were awarded if a woman headed the company. 

"The main condition for the grant was to demonstrate financial efficiency and the ability to expand and restore the business. The amount of the grant ranges from $1,000 to $5,000, depending on the size of the enterprise. We received more than 220 applications in total, and thanks to an impartial committee, we selected 150 businesses to receive grants."

In addition to money, the grantees received mentoring and training. 

"During the series of trainings, businessmen gained additional knowledge on financial literacy, marketing, and profitability. These trainings have also become a platform for networking and sharing useful information."

These are just a few of the 150 businesses we have helped:

Sam Ecopack

Because of the war, this company moved from Dnipropetrovsk Oblast to the city of Sambir in Lviv Oblast. The plant produces eco-friendly packaging for various types of products. The raw material used is pulpboard, an innovative material made from recycled waste paper. The company's mission is to switch from plastic to eco-friendly materials completely. Thanks to the grant funds raised, Sam Ecopack plans to purchase new equipment that will speed up the production process. This is an opportunity to enter new markets and expand the export potential of a high-quality Ukrainian product.

"To date, Sam Ecopack has created about 200 jobs in Sambir. And the new equipment will help preserve these jobs and attract residents to new production processes."

Rekava

The founders of Rekava also want to save Ukraine and the world from plastic. The company collects used coffee grounds and makes scented candles and disposable cups from them. All their products are biodegradable. Rekava also has a unique collection of candles with the scents of Ukrainian cities. Kyiv smells of lilacs and chestnuts, Kherson of watermelons. And Sumy, from where the company relocated to Lviv, smells like linden. They plan to spend the grant money on equipment that will increase production.

"Such support is critical because many businesses have suffered. Power outages, relocation, problems with recruitment, technological problems. This support allows us to keep going and move forward. In addition, we have been trained by People in Need. We gained useful knowledge, new contacts and connections. We still communicate with the group. This is positive for our development."

Kraft Food Factory

This company was born in Lviv. It produces a variety of cheeses, yoghurts, butter, and kefir, all made from natural milk with minimal sugar and salt. Oksana Prokopenko, the founder of Kraft Food Factory, is a technologist by training. In the endless search for quality raw materials, she founded a farm. She dreams of a large farm and a fully closed production cycle. With our grant, Oksana plans to increase production and hire two more employees.

"We need to move forward. More products, more people, new marketing. Entrepreneurship must develop and pay taxes. Grants are another impetus for development. We have to move forward, even in small steps."

Le Rosh

Suits, dresses, skirts, and even sportswear are all decorated with embroidery. This is the specialty of the Kolomyia-based company Le Rosh. Its founder, Yaroslava Lemish, started her business with a small atelier. Now, she creates designer clothes and sells them all over Ukraine. A woman with a disability works with her, and another colleague has the status of an internally displaced person. Financial support will allow this Le Rosh to develop. Yaroslava wants to create original embroidery and popularise it around the world.

"I would like to create and revive authentic embroidery, as we live in such a beautiful Prykarpattia region. Grant support provides the financial component, without which you cannot move your business forward. Plus, it's a pretty big boost for small entrepreneurs like me. It helps you spread your wings and realise the ideas you've been dreaming of for a long time."

Hedgehog Fast Food

Olena Petaieva has already been forced to move twice because of the war. She left not only her home but also her business in Mariupol, a small hostel. When she moved to Kolomyia in the Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast, Olena and her husband decided to open a fast-food outlet. It was a completely new experience for a woman. However, Olena quickly learned the secrets of making delicious shawarma and set up a second kiosk in the city. With the grant, she will buy furniture and a tablet, and hire an employee.

"We are very grateful to the People in Need for their support. It was very important to start somewhere, not to give up. It's a kind of moral support that you are important, that you are doing something. For us, cooking is the first experience. When I give away a shawarma, I say: "It's very important for me to know if you liked it. I want people to taste it; I want them to like it."

Fit&Fast

Anastasiia has always dreamed of owning her restaurant or cafe. But she could not even imagine the conditions under which she would have to realise it. In her native Mykolaiv, Anastasiia had a kindergarten. But due to constant shelling, she had to close it and move to Ivano-Frankivsk. Here, she decided to do what she had long wanted to do—open a restaurant. Now, she serves healthy and wholesome meals to the townspeople.

"This financial support will help us a lot because we have already invested all our family money in equipment, supplies and many other things. People who want to develop now, no matter how it may sound, against the backdrop of war, but now this impetus given to us by foreign support, our support, is just such a chance to start from scratch, to realise our dreams. Not to be afraid and successfully implement our ideas."

The DOVIRA project is equally important for local communities. The businesses it supports contribute to local government taxes. This helps with improving infrastructure, landscaping, and repairs. Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, 21 business entities have relocated to the Kolomyia community. The city council immediately informed everyone about the grant competition. Local businesses affected by the war also participated.

"Given this difficult, challenging path for every entrepreneur, the help from People in Need and the DOVIRA project is vital. The more newly created jobs or the more newly created businesses, the better it is for the development of the community and the better it is for the community budget." 

In addition to financial assistance, participants in DOVIRA received support and an impetus to move forward. For many, this renewed their self-belief and motivated them to change their lives dramatically.

Autor: People in Need

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