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Relocation of female entrepreneurs to the West Business Hub: project details and case studies

26 July 2022

West Business Hub: what it is and how to get involved
"Business support during the war and in the post-war period" involves several directions. One of them is the West Business Hub. This is the relocation of businesses of female entrepreneurs from the regions affected by the war with Russia to Lviv or Ternopil.
Also, within the framework of the project, ITFC conducts the study "Portrait of Ukrainian women entrepreneurs" and a series of seminars "Platform of Business Sustainability". Entrepreneurs and family business owners can take part in the program.
"Even in these difficult conditions, there is an opportunity to support Ukrainian enterprises, in particular, those run by women. This will make it possible to financially support the family for those women whose husbands are currently at the front. We developed the concept of the project based on the results of the analysis of the needs of women entrepreneurs and the challenges they face," explained Iryna Tytarchuk.
Under the West Business Hub relocation program, female residents are offered:
  • financial support: payment of rent for space in the West Business Hub space for a period of up to 6 months. The hub space is a large shared production space where businesswomen set up their productions;
  • organization of placement and arrangement of a workplace, production or office;
  • consultations and mentoring support;
  • the possibility of business development and scaling in cooperation with the Business Development Manager.
Businesswomen take advantage of all opportunities. To apply for relocation, you need to fill out a form. After its consideration, the project team appoints a meeting with the applicant. And based on the results of the meeting, a decision on aid is made.
In Ternopil, the project will last from July 1 to December 31, 2022, in Lviv - from August 1, 2022 to January 31, 2023. Applications are accepted while there are places in the hubs. According to Ms. Tytarchuk, 73 m2 are currently available in Ternopil. Up to 10 enterprises are planned to be located in both hubs. The organization has already received 58 applications for relocation. 6 entrepreneurs from Kharkiv region and Kyiv region received support.
"We cannot satisfy all requests. People have applied for relocation to regions where there is no West Business Hub. And some enterprises relocated on their own and found the premises they needed," explained the project manager.
Mrs. Tytarchuk also shared the results of a survey of female entrepreneurs regarding their needs in business. Currently, 44% of female respondents need financial advisory support. 33% – procurement of raw materials and equipment, 25% – assistance in business relocation, 22% – mentoring support, communications and advertising, 18% – promotion (promotion) of goods, 3% – legal support.
It is interesting that women mostly use their own funds to start and develop a business. This was shown by the study "Portrait of Ukrainian women entrepreneurs" conducted in 2021. 7 out of 10 businesswomen did so. Bank loans attracted 14% of female respondents. But grant funding is not common among women's businesses.
How entrepreneurs restore business in relocation
Women entrepreneurs who took advantage of the opportunity to move their business to the West Business Hub are already resuming production. They sometimes enter into partnerships and together look for new sales markets.
VESNA natural cosmetics
In 2015, Inna Skarzhynska and her daughter founded the herbal cosmetics brand VESNA in Bucha. Last year, the company employed 10 people. And the laboratory was located on 100 m2. Products were sold on Rozetka, MakeUp, had 3 branded stores and more than 50 partner points of sale. They began to enter the international marketplaces Etsy and Amazon.
During the occupation of Buchi, the Russians looted the store, laboratory, warehouse and office of VESNA. At one time, the daughter of the owner, Victoria, studied at Woman In, an ITFC project. She saw the news about the hub in the ITFC project alumni chat and immediately applied to participate in the program.
"Recently, we moved to new premises in Lviv and started manufacturing almost all the positions that were made before the full-scale war. We established cooperation with a cosmetic chain in Lviv and a chain of pharmacies in the Ivano-Frankivsk region. The products are also ordered by clients who have gone abroad," Inna Skarzhynska shares her successes.
Currently, the company has a problem of working capital, because everything earned is invested in the restoration of equipment, and due to disrupted logistics, it is difficult to find containers and raw materials. The plan is to increase exports to Europe, so the brand is undergoing international certification. In addition, VESNA offers contract manufacturing services for brands to keep the lab up and running.
Upcycling accessories from 3.14BAN | PIBAN
The Kharkiv brand 3.14BAN makes accessories, bags, and merch from used banners. He sees his mission as the formation of a culture of conscious consumption in Ukraine. Works since 2019. The company first appeared as a social project. Later, she started making orders for retail and commercial customers. 3 people work at 3.14BAN.
"Our clients have become leading organizations and companies: Coca-Cola HBC, the UN Human Rights Mission, UNDP, KYIVPRIDE and LvBS. We develop social entrepreneurship with an ecological component. We are talking about upcycling and recycling, forming a culture of conscious consumption in Ukraine," says the founder of the brand, Katya Uvarova.
This year, the company planned to enter the international market, but a large-scale war began. The workshop in Kharkiv was destroyed by enemy shells. The workers have moved around the world, and the clients are currently only resuming their work.
After becoming a resident of West Business Hub, the entrepreneur received 50 m2 of premises in Lviv, where she is resuming production. In addition, Ms. Uvarova is looking for partners abroad and is preparing a new upcycling product.
Services of visual design of showcases of "Avex Group"
The Kyiv company "Salad" LLC operates under the "Avex Group" brand. Has been making visual design of objects for business since 2005. In addition, it performs printing on textiles, sews decor from fabric for visual design, advertising projects and merchandising in store chains. In recent years, the company has invested in equipment.
"The stores we designed were winners in various competitions. Even several "Silpo" stores took first place in the European competition for the best design. We planned to open additional areas and expand the range of services," co-owner Vitalina Gergalo shares.
However, the war began. Major customers reduced their orders by 90%. And new stores are not opening now. Projects that were in operation until February 2022 have also been suspended. In addition, due to power outages, expensive print heads on workbenches failed. Therefore, the textile direction came to the fore for the company.
"We found out about West Business Hub by accident when we were looking for premises. By taking part in this project, we received help with renting and furnishing and consulting on grant financing, which we plan to actively develop," says Ms. Gergalo.
The company moved to Ternopil and organized a small additional sewing workshop, where civilian clothes and military equipment are sewn for wholesale customers. The plan is to organize a sewing factory, which will employ approximately 20 workers, some of whom will be immigrants. And in the future - to launch your own clothing brand.
The project is implemented by the Ukraine Investment and Trade Facilitation Center with the support of the USAID Competitive Economy Program
The material was prepared in partnership with Buduy Svoe

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