GLASGOW, United Kingdom — After more than a year of a full-scale war, Ukraine faces an economic crisis. According to the official data of the National Bank of Ukraine, the economy in the country has dropped by 30% in 2022. The Bank indicated a full-scale invasion as the main reason for the decrease. Economic growth in Ukraine relies on the contribution of both large and small businesses. Small businesses have a crucial role to play in the economy as they generate employment opportunities, foster innovation, and, as a result, stimulate economic upswing.
While some women serve in the Ukrainian armed forces, others are entrepreneurs who work, run their businesses and foster economic growth in Ukraine.
Victoria Maslova and Inna Skarzhynska
Inna Skarzhynska and her daughter Victoria Maslova started their business in 2015, launching a natural cosmetic brand Vesna – spring in Ukrainian. Right now Vesna is one of the leading cosmetic products in the country that contributes to economic growth in Ukraine. Before the full-scale invasion in February 2022, Vesna had four stores with their main production headquarters in the city of Bucha. Although Russian occupiers entered the city of Bucha in February 2022 and destroyed almost the entire Vesna laboratory, two women were able to resume production within two months, moving their manufacturing to Lviv in the west of Ukraine, Maslova explained in an interview with The Borgen Project.
The reviving of the activity is moving quickly. Production has tripled compared to before the war. Vesna increases sales by exporting products to the USA, Poland and Lithuania, with their exports accounting for 10% of sales. Also, Vesna provides special healing ointments for the Ukrainian armed forces, according to Maslova.
The Borgen Project spoke to Yuliya Semeniuk, a teacher who developed a special fast reading technique for children. She began her teaching career with the Indigo Mental course, which she launched after purchasing a franchise from the Indigo Mental Club, a mental arithmetic technique that trains to make rapid and accurate oral counting. Later on, she developed a unique Smart Reader program which is the first Ukrainian online gaming platform that helps children learn to read and perceive information quickly and qualitatively. She opened her school in February 2018. To date, Semeniuk’s curriculum has three programs in mathematics, mental arithmetic and speed reading, she explained in the interview.
According to Semeniuk, since February 24, 2022, the school has lost “about 70% of its students with the remaining 30% studying for free.” It happened because people’s priorities shifted. In the first months of the full-scale war, there was no time or conditions to study. Yet there was no staff shortage and the school resumed their work with new aspirations in June 2022. The school offers free preferential places for children who suffered the most during the war. Now, Semeniuk’s utmost priority is to educate and shape the leaders of tomorrow, simultaneously, fostering economic growth in Ukraine.
Yaroslava Boiechko is the owner of Domashnia Pekarnya, a Ukrainian home bakery and she shared her business story with The Borgen Project. Not having any special education in business or marketing, Boiechko started her business from scratch in 2002. In 2018 she opened her first coffee shop in Yabluniv in western Ukraine. During the war, the total volume of the bakery’s production dropped by 50%, she explained in the interview. Several factors at the same time influenced the affairs. The main problem was the lack of human resources. A lot of people went to the front line, others left the country. There were no competent specialists to continue the manufacturing. However, in April 2022, Boiechko opened a second shop but had to close it due to constant blackouts and power outages. She plans to reopen it before long.
The biggest motivation for Yaroslava is her responsibility to her country. “War is a meeting with one’s own powerlessness and with one’s own strength. When you lose control over the situation, but you know that boys and girls left their homes to defend the country, how you cannot be strong enough to do what you know you can do?” Boiechko said in the interview.
Anna Khaldieieva is a doctor and businesswoman. She founded the Derm Space Clinic in Kyiv, Ukraine four years ago. Her idea was born from the urge to establish a medical facility that would cultivate both a professional and friendly atmosphere, she shared in an interview with The Borgen Project. Her clinic offers a variety of services. Annually, the clinic hosts a two-week melanoma day. It is open for a free consultation to every citizen who wants to check for melanoma (a type of skin cancer).
For the first three months of the full-scale war, the clinic had not been operating, with doctors interacting with their patients online. Currently, the clinic is open seven days a week, taking an active part in helping the country. According to Khaldieieva, it participates in the Zagrava project, the special initiative for people who received skin wounds due to military actions and are entitled to receive free treatment. The clinic also regularly initiates donation drives and transfers all the funds to the Ukrainian armed forces. Last time with the help of sponsors Derm Space Clinic collected almost $300.
The development of Ukraine significantly depends on small businesses, making support for such enterprises vital. Every individual has the chance to play a positive role in economic growth in Ukraine by opting for local products and actively fostering economic advancement within the country.
– Anna Konovalenko
Photo: Property of VESNA