More than 8,000 entrepreneurs from all over Ukraine received support in COVID-19 Business Clinics

More than 8,000 entrepreneurs from all over Ukraine received support in COVID-19 Business Clinics

During February–December 2021, more than 8,000 small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) from all regions of Ukraine received consulting support in COVID-19 Business Clinics within the programme "EU4Business: SME Competitiveness and Internationalisation" co-financed by the European Union and the Federal Government of Germany.

"At the beginning of the corona-crisis, no one had any idea of ​​how to support private business quickly and strongly. However, with the launch of the programme together with GIZ, we managed to develop the necessary business tools. In particular, we opened COVID-19 Business Clinics. They were expected to be a temporary measure, but the crisis continued, and at the same time the tool proved useful. I am very grateful to the business support organisations that joined the initiative and acquired the knowledge and expertise that allowed them to continue providing business services to SMEs. It is very important that entrepreneurs can develop new business models and apply new principles of digitalisation. The European Union will support SMEs in Ukraine so that they can continue to develop, grow and become more innovative and export oriented, able to access new markets," says Chloe Allio, Head of the Economic Cooperation, Energy, Infrastructure and Environment section of the Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine.

COVID-19 Business Clinics offices were operating in Kharkiv, Dnipro, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Vinnytsia, Mykolaiv and Chernihiv. With their online format, they were able to cover the neighbouring regions and thus the entire territory of Ukraine. The budget of the initiative amounted to approximately EUR 350,000.

SMEs within the range of 1 up to 249 employees having a focus on women's entrepreneurship and innovation and a desire to trade with and beyond the European Union participated in the programme. Thanks to the advisory services which were provided free of charge, SMEs increased their competitiveness. The services of the Clinics included business model assessment, followed by mentoring programmes, trainings, seminars, advisory boards, forums, business branches, etc. The businesses received consultations by professional experts (individual rapid business diagnostics up to 30 minutes, individual in-depth consultation up to 2 hours and group consultations), and received assistance when filling in applications for the COVID-19 Consulting Voucher (10 full days of expert assistance from the international consulting company CIVITTA).

"Small and medium-sized enterprises are one of the main pillars of Ukraine's economy. We should note that entrepreneurs do not depend on jobs offered by the government, instead they create jobs for other citizens, and increase the country's GDP. The idea of business clinics was to provide such entrepreneurs with insight into modern business development tools. I hope this will give impetus to their growth and business success in the future," says Armin Hofmann, Programme Director of the project "EU4Business: SME Competitiveness and Internationalisation".

The client entrepreneurs represented all locations where COVID-19 Business Clinics were focused. In Ivano-Frankivsk, there were 2 320 participants, 1 332 in Mykolayiv, 1 253 in Dnipro, 1 114 in Vinnytsia, 815 in Kharkiv, 678 in Chernihiv, and 501 in Lviv. The share of women participants was 63%.

Entrepreneurs applied to COVID-19 Business Clinics most actively in the following regions: Lviv (883 people), Vinnytsia (841), Dnipropetrovsk (757), Kyiv region and Kyiv city (746), Kharkiv (630), Mykolayiv (435), Chernihiv (369).

Breakdown by company size: 1-4 employees – 31% of enterprises, 5-9 employees – 19%, 10-19 employees – 14%, 20-49 employees – 13%, 50-249 employees – 18% and more than 250 employees – 6%.

Breakdown by the sector: the most frequent (44%) activities were in trade (wholesale and retail), hotel and restaurant operations, transport, storage, communications, finance, insurance, real estate, and business services (public, social and personal). The second place (27%) was taken by enterprises of agriculture, hunting, forestry, fishing, and mining. The third place (25%) was taken by educators and the public sector. The rest (only 3%) was taken by the remaining sectors.

In total, the COVID-19 Business Clinics conducted 150 group training events. The most popular among them were webinars (56 events), trainings (30), conferences and seminars (both 11). The rest were distributed among forums, workshops, round tables, coaching programs, business breakfasts and brunches, advisory boards, mentoring and open discussions (42 in total).

Among the most relevant topics of individual and group consultations for the SMEs during the pandemic were: marketing – 25%, exports – 11%, applications for business support programs – 11%, finance – 9%, tax consulting – 7%, legal consulting – 6%, business model – 6%, sales – 5%, human capital – 5%, and the rest (support tools, digitisation, innovations, procurement) – 16%.

235 SMEs applied for the COVID-19 Consulting Voucher worth UAH 100,000, but only 105 companies were selected for an award. They represented the offices of COVID-19Business Clinics in the following way: Mykolaiv – 20 awards, Ivano-Frankivsk – 20, Dnipro – 10, Vinnytsia – 16, Lviv – 16, Kharkiv – 10, Chernihiv – 10. According to the legal form, the awarded companies consisted of 60% – LLC (limited liability company), 23% – Private Entrepreneurs, 17% – Individual Physical Entrepreneurs.

According to the topics submitted to the COVID-19 Consulting Voucher, Ukrainian SME owners seek the following services: marketing and sales – 43 applications (41%), strategy and business model – 16 applications (15%), exports – 13 applications (12%), adaptation and optimisation of operational business processes – 13 applications (12%), digitisation – 10 applications (10%), increase financial literacy and improve reporting – 6 applications (6%), other issues (e.g. technical regulation of non-food products, formation of personnel strategy, etc.) – 4 applications (4%).

More analytics and infographics are available in the presentation.

Background information: The "EU4Business: SME Competitiveness and Internationalisation" programme is co-financed by the European Union and the German Government. It is implemented by the German Federal Company "Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH". The programme aims to create better conditions for the development of Ukrainian small and medium-sized enterprises and support innovation and export promotion, resulting in sustainable and equitable economic growth. As part of the Team Europe approach, the initiative will also contribute to Ukraine’s COVID-19 recovery.

EU4Business is an umbrella initiative that includes all EU support to SMEs in the Eastern Partnership countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. EU4Business supports SME growth by improving access to finance and business development services, and by promoting better business regulation.

For additional information, please contact the project team of "EU4Business: SME Competitiveness and Internationalisation" via

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