Ukraine: Reinforcing the building blocks of firm resilience
ITC's extensive strategic data services are helping Ukrainian organizations adapt their businesses models to the wartime environment. Working with partners in the countrty, businesses are learning how to connect with new customers.
Running a business in wartime poses considerable challenges. According to a recent survey by the Entrepreneurship and Export Promotion Office (EEPO) of Ukraine, over half of businesses in the country don’t have enough solvent customers, and over 40% are struggling with access to capital to stay open.
The International Trade Center (ITC), Ukrainian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UCCI), ICC Center of Entrepreneurship for Ukraine, and EEPO have been working together to help Ukrainian firms diversify their income streams and find new sources for growth. Eighty Ukrainian firms joined a recent webinar to learn about how they can utilize ITC Market Analysis Tools and the EaP Trade Helpdesk to identify, compare and leverage new trade opportunities across markets. The applied market research exercises allowed firms to gather that information for their own products.
‘Ukrainian businesses confirm the demand for the portal in today's realities,’ said Valeriya Zabashta, who heads UCCI team for new forms of international cooperation. ‘The portal significantly simplifies access to information for enterprises that do not have sufficient experience in analysing and searching for information, as well as for those who do not speak English. In addition to statistical information on several countries, the user gets access to high-quality visualization thanks to the information collected from several ITC tools, which allows for reducing the time for market analysis.’
Connecting with new buyers
The resilience of certain Ukrainian firms is inspiring. Organizations such as the European Business Association (EBA) of Ukraine are actively helping them connect with new buyers, while sharing best practices with thousands of firms in Ukraine.
In a second EBA webinar in April, firms also learned about the EaP Trade Helpdesk, a digital platform available in Ukrainian which highlights trade opportunities in EU and Eastern Partnership markets. The webinar also showcased the stories of successful new exporters that adapted their businesses despite the challenges. Armed with the access to crucial information and examples from other resilient firms, entrepreneurs are better equipped to seek out new business development opportunities.
Firms also shared how they adapted successfully. Animal feed producer Kormotech has built its international presence. Company representatives emphasized the importance of strategic market research. They highlighted the need to understand the range of products on offer, to take note of local consumer preferences, and to determine viable sales channels. They landed deals with Maxima to enter Baltic countries, as well as with Kaufland for Germany and other markets. They warned that requirements can be quite specific and strict, with up to a year of adaptation to meet local requirements.
EBA is also working to bring actors into the Ukrainian market. ‘To present the numerous Ukrainian business opportunities to global companies, and to help them to find partners or stakeholders in Ukraine, we launched Global Business for Ukraine initiative,’ said EBA Executive Director Anna Derevyanko.
Ukrainian firms face many uncertainties, but there are also positive signs of investments pledged by companies to rebuild Ukraine in the years to come. Companies learn to adapt their operations and communication channels to cope with and overcome fragility, as shown in ITC's forthcoming SME Competitiveness Outlook.
ITC will continue to engage with Ukrainian businesses and business support organizations to help economically displaced workers, and to better understand what policies would support small businesses in breaking the vicious cycle of fragility.
This four-year programme funded by the European Union and launched in 2019, aims to foster economic growth through boosting trade within the Eastern Partnership as well as with EU markets. Implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC), the project has created an integrated digital trade platform available in Ukrainian and is also working to collect data on relevant regulations, services trade, as well as export-related procedures for key products.