24 Apr 2024

3 min

Innovation, Education, and Entrepreneurship

“CREATE!”: The Ministry of Economy, WNISEF and KSE Foundation Roll Out $1 Million Grant Program for Women Entrepreneurs

The $1,000,000 will be used to support SMEs run by Ukrainian women in the production and processing sector: equipment repair, printing, clothing, furniture, food, pharmaceuticals, computers, optics, etc. The “CREATE!” grant program was presented yesterday, April 24, at the Kyiv School of Economics.

The program was launched by the Ministry of Economy of Ukraine with the financial support of the Western NIS Enterprise Fund and implemented by the KSE Foundation in partnership with Oschadbank JSC.

“CREATE!” is an integral part of the government’s “Made in Ukraine” policy, as well as the state strategy for gender equality. The initiative is aimed at developing and scaling up national production and increasing the business activity of Ukrainian women. The program’s goal is to stimulate economic growth by providing resources and financial support for women to implement their business plans.

Applications for participation in the grant program can be submitted until July 31. More details about the program and how to apply: https://vlasnaspravagrant.com.ua/create/?utm_source=r_start

Yuliia Svyrydenko, First Deputy Prime Minister – Minister of Economy of Ukraine: “Women are increasingly active in business and more often take the lead. Women fight at war, provide medical aid, create, and lead. Half of new businesses were started by women last year. Every third company was run by a woman. Today, we are launching the “CREATE!” program to increase the number of such new businesses. Businesses that can surprise and inspire. This is an essential project for the Ministry of Economy, as it contains two key priorities: strengthening the role of women in the economy and supporting processing. We have to produce more goods with a high share of added value and move away from the raw material model of the economy, whereas there are no examples of successful raw material states in the world.”

Tetiana Berezhna, Deputy Minister of Economy of Ukraine: “There are huge expectations for Ukrainian women now. With more than 6 million people outside of Ukraine and about 1 million army, mostly men, defending the country, we, as women, must realize our responsibility for maintaining the economic homefront. That is why the “CREATE!” program is aimed at developing women’s entrepreneurship and supporting the manufacturing industry. The development of production means new jobs, more taxes paid and more foreign exchange earnings if the company is exporting.”

Jaroslawa Z. Johnson, President and CEO of WNISEF: “Women in Ukraine constitute a vital segment of the economy and serve as a catalyst for its development. They should play an even greater role in economic processes. Statistics show that women are becoming more actively engaged in entrepreneurship. This trend needs to be facilitated. Over the past 30 years, Ukraine has made progress in the development of SMEs. However, as of the start of the Russian aggression, there were only about 13-16% of SMEs in Ukraine, while stable economic growth requires their share in the overall economy to be at least 60%. We believe that Ukrainian women can make a significant contribution to the development of SMEs.”

The initiative’s participants will be able to spend the grant funds on the purchase, delivery and installation of production equipment, and no more than 30% of the grant on software and training.

The program is open to women entrepreneurs registered as sole proprietors or LLCs with more than 50% female ownership. The production facility must be operational for at least one year at the time of application.

Svitlana Denysenko, Director of the KSE Foundation: “The individual grant for each winner will be up to $15,000 – when applying, it is important to approach the request for funds rationally and have a plan for development and scaling. “The “CREATE!” program is aimed at supporting already operating businesses. We want to help Ukrainian women who are building their businesses despite the ongoing challenges.”

Oshchadbank will check the business reputation and credit records of applicants and then provide recommendations on grant allocation.

Natalia Butkova-Vitvitska, JSC Oschadbank Member of the Board, responsible for micro, small and medium-sized businesses: “As part of the “CREATE!” program, Oschadbank will check the business reputation of women entrepreneurs for being on sanctions lists, involvement in fraud, and any court cases, including bankruptcy. If the positive business reputation is confirmed, after receiving the grant, the program participants will be able to apply to our bank for additional financing.”

The program pitch was also attended by representatives of successful Ukrainian businesses. They shared with the audience their sources of inspiration for starting and developing their own business. Special guests of the event gave advice to those willing to start and the ones already engaged in entrepreneurial activities.

Anna Zavertailo, Co-founder of the Zavertailo restaurant chain and Honey confectioneries: “Don’t be afraid of anything, because it’s not really scary. And if you are afraid, it’s ok, just do it anyway.”

Alina Frendii, COOSH Designer and Founder: “Do it – don’t be afraid! While everyone is afraid, you do it and you win. Tell the world about your business. This will help you find like-minded people with whom you can go through hardships, gain experience, discuss new projects, and implement fresh, awesome ideas.”

Kateryna Zahorii, Darnytsia Pharmaceutical Company Director of the Board: “Follow your values. It is important to know exactly what you are made of, what you stand on, what is crucial to you and what you will never give up.”

Sonia Soltes, Founder of the LUTIKI brand: “It is very important to take a strong stance. This is the only thing that gives you the feeling that everything is being done right. The main thing is to be strong. And then you will have dreams, like-minded people, and money.”

The funds for the “CREATE!” grant program are an investment of the Western NIS Enterprise Fund, which supports reform promotion initiatives and transformational projects in Ukraine.

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