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Making Space for Economic Growth in Ukraine’s Lanovetska Community

Published 02/23/2024 by Global Communities

Ukraine_DOBRE program_Hryhorii Soltis

For years, Lanovetska Territorial Community, located in Ternopil oblast of Ukraine, was off the global economic map. Aspiring entrepreneurs were stifled by this isolation. However, with support from Global Communities and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), enterprising local residents were able to breathe new life into existing businesses and those still trying to get off the ground.

It all began with a simple idea: create a public co-working space for local businesses to establish a business school that would provide tools for success. Little did these project developers know how much this community-powered idea would change the lives of residents and set in motion the wheels of local economic development.

PIcturing a way forward, together

Mariia Demchuk is a dedicated and determined entrepreneur from Lanovetska who was struggling to realize her dream of becoming a professional photographer. With limited resources and the need to provide for her family, she often felt her goals were out of reach.

She vividly remembers the first day she walked into the newly established co-working space. It was a bustling hub of creativity, with a video studio for content creators, a spacious conference hall and a photo studio promising great potential. The modern office set-ups, meeting place and cozy recreation areas were designed to foster entrepreneurial growth. Global Communities’ USAID-funded Decentralization Offering Better Results and Efficiency (DOBRE) program provided the grant that allowed the community to develop this opportunity.

“Opening a photo studio in Lanivka helped me to develop my business and significantly increased the number of customers,” Mariia shared. “Moreover, those willing to have a photo session do not need to travel 60 km to the regional center; now, they can do it where they live. Together with the city council, we started to organize social projects and photo sessions for those who could not afford them.”

DOBRE is providing comprehensive technical assistance to 60 territorial communities (TCs), including Lanovetska, to help the TCs recover from the war with Russia and resume their economic development. One aspect of the program involves providing guidance to TCs on how to cultivate local entrepreneurship, accommodate relocating businesses, support cooperatives, attract outside investment and other matters. DOBRE also provides material assistance to support specific projects.

“The mission of the USAID DOBRE program is to help communities take stock of their resources, identify challenges and find solutions for them. We also help communities develop sustainably and increase their economic capacity,” said Vitaliy Yurkiv, the program’s Local Economic Development expert. “At the same time, we do not impose any direction but encourage residents to determine their own priorities. Today, our communities turn to us precisely for help in economic development they seek to create new jobs, maintain existing businesses and help relocated businesses.

building up local entrepreneurs

While support from DOBRE has been essential, the real catalyst for the success of those like Mariia is the B2B School, a business school that opened just a few days after the co-working space was launched. It is a beacon of knowledge and unique opportunity for local residents who want to learn how to translate their ideas into concrete plans.

To date, more than 20 small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) business owners have enrolled in B2B’s program, where skilled instructors provide training in marketing, finance and business management. The school’s mission is simple but powerful: to equip local entrepreneurs with the skills and knowledge necessary to grow their businesses.

In addition, through the co-working space, a series of trainings have been held for 25 more people — half of whom are already entrepreneurs and the rest who aspire to become business owners. With the help of mentors, participants have already prepared business plans and are looking for funds to implement their ideas.

“I got acquainted with the co-working space and its possibilities when I joined the business school. The major part of the training was held here, because the co-working space has all the conditions for comfortable work and relaxation,” said Hryhorii Soltis, a local entrepreneur and B2B program participant. “The co-working space has created all the conditions for actual and potential entrepreneurs.”

The co-working space and business school have jump-started local economic development. The businesses that have found a home within its walls are growing, creating new jobs for the community and contributing to its prosperity. The impact is visible not only in financial progress but also in the renewed sense of hope and purpose that has swept through the lives of local residents.

In a country still suffering from Russia’s full-scale invasion, where small towns often face economic challenges, the activity of Lanovetska TC offers an excellent example of how local initiatives can lead to significant change. Funding by the USAID DOBRE program provided the initial push, but it was the dedication of people like Mariia and Hryhorii and the entrepreneurial spirit of other community members that has ultimately made the difference.

This success story is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of Global Communities and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.