From Trade to Production: How a specialized orthopaedic store chain from Ukraine launched a promising business amid war

From Trade to Production: How a specialized orthopaedic store chain from Ukraine launched a promising business amid war

Medtechnika Orto, one of Ukraine’s largest national chains of health stores, headquartered in Dnipro, has been badly affected by Russia’s full-scale invasion and war on Ukraine. Some of its salons ended up in Russian-occupied parts of Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia oblasts.

“In the first days after the invasion, the situation developed so rapidly that only in exceptional cases could we save the equipment and goods from our salons,” says Medtechnika Ortho head Kateryna Yuzhakova.

“We’ve lost four chain stores, and the total losses reached UAH 4 million.”

But immediate financial losses are only part of the story: The company also faced the loss of a large part of its customers – many Ukrainians left the country, while demand for orthopaedic services fell among those who stayed.

“Orthopaedic problems are an extremely common issue among both children and adults, and our modern lifestyles only worsen them,” says Yuzhakova.

“Some experts even talk seriously about it being a real epidemic: Scoliosis and flat feet are very common conditions. It’s more common to find a child with such a diagnoses than it is to find one without one. But it’s got to be admitted that during the war these issues are not even secondary ones. So demand for our goods fell significantly.”

New direction

So to retain its network of 59 orthopaedic salons across Ukraine, the company began to develop in a new direction: Using innovative technologies, it introduced the production of individual orthopaedic insoles for shoes in its salons. In particular, the company prides itself in its 3D printing of insoles, which ensures unprecedented manufacturing accuracy.

“After a patient’s foot is scanned on a 2D or 3D scanner, everything happens automatically, which eliminates any possible errors due to the human factor,” says Yuzhakova.

“The algorithm correlates the scanned data and works out a digital model. Then, the device creates an individual insole with mathematical precision, taking into account the necessary adjustments for each patient.”

But to start out in its new direction, the company needed a marketing strategy, and here it faced a shortage of funds. That’s where the EU4Business: SME Competitiveness and Internationalization programme came into the picture.

Medtechnika Orto applied for a grant, and once it was awarded it used the funds to update the network's online site and enhance its online store by recruiting additional experts (and thus creating new jobs). Even at the first stages of implementing these marketing initiatives, the online store’s key indicators picked up significantly.

“This grant support in wartime is extremely helpful to Ukrainian businesses,” Yuzhakova says.

“We’re certainly very happy to have participated in the EU4Business programme, as we almost immediately got great results.”

Grant competitions under the “EU4Business: SME Competitiveness and Internationalization” programme are organized by the German federal overseas development company Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, with funding from the European Union and the German government. The programme is implemented with the assistance of the Ministry of Economy of Ukraine and the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine. The NGO “Foundation for the Support of Reforms in Ukraine” was an implementing partner. Grant applications were made exclusively through the Diia state services portal. Information partners included the Entrepreneurship and Export Promotion Office and the Diia.Business national project for entrepreneurship and export development.

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