Business Magazine

Ukrainian Business Community Comes Together to Develop Local Business Agendas

Posted on the 02 June 2016 by Center For International Private Enterprise @CIPEglobal


By Bogdana Aleksandrova and Anastasiya Baklan

For the first time in Ukraine’s modern history regional business associations, in cooperation with Chambers of Commerce and Industry and think tanks, are developing and promoting local business agendas.

Historically Ukrainian business associations, chambers, and think tanks have not cooperated closely to form a single voice of business in advocacy efforts.  In view of this history, CIPE developed and delivered training programs to various business support organizations over the past several years, the latest of which occurred over the winter and spring.  The training, encouragement, and support from CIPE have helped to foster the development of coalitions of these organizations following the trainings in several regions around Ukraine (see CIPE’s Bogdana Aleksandrova speak about the advocacy campaigns – in Russian).

The most recent participants in CIPE’s training program will receive ongoing consultations from CIPE experts, including Sergiy Pancir, Head of the Center of Social Partnership and Lobbying under the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Denis Bazilevich, Director of the Institute of Professional Lobbying and Advocacy and Ruslan Kraplich, business trainer of the Ostrog Princes Foundation. Now these coalitions are taking the next step, applying their training, and are developing local business agendas.

CIPE recently announced that five regional coalitions, from Sumy, Mykolaev, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kirovohrad, and the city of Kyiv, each consisting of business support organizations and regional think tanks, would receiving small grants and ongoing technical support to develop regional business agendas.

In the coming months these coalitions will analyze local policies affecting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and develop a consensus position among SMEs in the coalition on which business issues identified by the business community should be prioritized.  These coalitions will then develop a position paper (or local business agenda), which presents the most pressing SME business issues and describes solutions to these issues, including the practical steps they plan to take to undergo an advocacy campaign for these issues.

Coalitions from Ivano-Frankivsk, Sumy and Mykolaiv will continue business community initiatives focused on the formation of the SME advocacy initiatives to the local authorities, which took place during August-October 2015 with the support of the USAID Project SURE, implemented by CIPE. Within the SURE project, these regional coalitions, through a series of focus groups with entrepreneurs, identified and summarized the main problems of SMEs which may be solved at the local level (see “Case study: Advocacy campaign to promote the priorities and reform proposals from the small and medium businesses on the eve of local elections in 2015“– in Ukrainian). The requirements of SMEs will form the basis for the business agenda in these regions will be pushed out to decision makers during 2016.

In contrast, the Kyiv and Kirovohrad coalitions are undergoing their first consensus building exercises, and it will their first experience working with entrepreneurs to identify their needs, prioritizing and rationalizing issues in a one document and conduct advocacy on such issues. The Chairman of the Board of the Kirovograd NGO “Territory of Success,” Inga Dudnik, noted that the first step for newly established coalition will be formalization of the relationship and internal division of responsibilities within its members. Then the coalition will create a work plan with stakeholders, including media, to provide let the public know about the advocacy process and not just the result of such work,

The regional coalitions consist of five to 23 members who have agreed to work together on improving the local business environment. Collectively, the coalition represents over 1,000 local SMEs with more than 5,000 employees, allowing it to form a realistic picture of the challenges for SMEs and work out the solutions together form a very broad base of firms of all sizes and in various industries.

Ukraine is currently undergoing the process of “decentralization” where significant regulatory and financial functions, previously conducted by the central government, will be transferred to regional centers. The ongoing work of building capacity and trust among members of coalitions will be vital to ensuring that SMEs have a seat at the table in the regions as functions are decentralized.

Currently the five SME coalitions that will receive grants are conducting public consultations with stakeholders and are preparing for the start of an advocacy campaign in the fall, with the aim of including SME priorities and policy proposals on the agenda of local authorities. The ongoing advocacy efforts are providing a slow, but stable, improvement in regional business environments.  The unification of the business community in five regions of Ukraine is helping to foster public-private dialog and pushing up SME issues in regional political circles.


WATCH: Viktoriya Koltun, expert of National Academy of State Administration and participant of Kyiv SMEs Coalition talks about the impact of CIPE training program and her coalition’s next practical steps:  (in Russian)

Bogdana Aleksandrova is a Program Assistant for CIPE Ukraine. Anastasiya Baklan is Communications Specialist for CIPE Ukraine.

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog