Chamber of Commerce helps Ukrainian SMEs access EU market


Thanks to the training and support provided by East Invest 1 and East Invest 2, Elvira Sevostianenko and the Donetsk Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) have been helping Ukrainian SMEs enter the EU market.

The Donetsk Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) has a long history of increasing the competitiveness of the region’s entrepreneurs by providing professional services and creating a favourable environment for business. In support of this mission, DCCI has been heavily involved with the East Invest 2 project, part of EU4Business led by led by EUROCHAMBRES in cooperation with UEAPME, where several of its employees received training.

One of these employees is Elvira Sevostianenko, who participated in a series of trainings organised by the East Invest Academy. “During my training, I acquired new knowledge on such topics as the EU and its institutions, European legislation, customs regulations and the free movement of services and goods,” says Elvira. “It was also a great opportunity to work with an international community of like-minded people.”

As a trained trainer, Elvira had an obligation to share her knowledge with entrepreneurs in the six Eastern Partnership countries. Within a two-month period, she travelled to each country and taught other Chambers and entrepreneurs about doing business in the EU. She also built an international network that she continues to refer to for advice, information and consulting today.

Exchange broadens horizons

Elvira was one of seven DCCI employees who participated in the Business Support Organisations (BSO) exchange. As part of her exchange, Elvira visited The Hague Chamber of Commerce in the Netherlands and the Antwerp Chamber of Commerce in Belgium. ‘It was really interesting to see how other chambers work in terms of processes, structure and services,” she says.

Back in Ukraine, Elvira and her colleagues cumulated the knowledge they gained during their respective exchanges and launched the DCFTA International Trade Skills School and the Export UA web-portal. The former provided DCCI members with training on foreign trade and navigating the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) Ukraine has with the EU, while the latter provided practical support and services to businesses aiming to trade on the global market.

SMEs hit the road

Elvira also helped organise Ukraine’s participation in the East Invest roadshows. These initiatives aim to equip SMEs and entrepreneurs with the necessary tools for expanding into new markets. From 2015 – 2017, Elvira and DCCI organised roadshows to Poland, Cyprus, Belgium, Denmark, Spain and Greece. Each roadshow showcased at least one East Invest targeted sector, including agriculture, food processing, transport, logistics and IT. Elvira served as an expert, providing training on the DCFTA process. A total of 95 enterprises from eight Ukrainian regions participated in the roadshows.  

“Thanks to the roadshow, our entrepreneurs had the opportunity to establish personal contacts with European companies, get acquainted with the latest trends in the EU market and learn more about the EU’s regulatory environment,” says Elvira.

The window to the world

Although there are still plenty of challenges for Ukrainian SMEs – from language to standards and the ongoing regional conflict – Elvira notes that entrepreneurs clearly understand that the EU market is the window to the world for them. “It is our role, as the Chamber, to continue to transform these challenges into opportunities for our SMEs,” she adds.