Over a hundred women from Eastern, Central, and Western Ukraine participated in the Third Forum of Women Entrepreneurs in Lviv.
The Forum attendees were greeted by U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey R. Pyatt, Mayor of Lviv, Andriy Sadovyi, and UCU Rector, Rev. Dr. Bohdan Prach.
During the two-day Forum “Ukrainian Women in Business: Personal Development and Success” was held on May 22-23 at Lviv Business School UCU. During it, the participants heard 12 practical presentations by prominent experts in finances, law, marketing, sales, communication, time management, social media, as well as a series of inspiring meetings with successful women entrepreneurs.
U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt noted that he came to Lviv in order to express a strong support for women entrepreneurs in Ukraine. According to him, the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs which brings together women from East and West, shows the business ladies that they have a lot to learn from one another, and this will enhance the wholeness and unity of Ukraine.
The Ambassador believes that women are not adequately represented in Ukrainian business and that their potential is undervalued.
“However, with a government focused on reform and fighting corruption, the environment for small businesses is getting better each day. In Europe today, almost 60 percent of the economy is comprised of small and medium enterprises. In Poland, it’s 50 percent. But in Ukraine, it’s only 17 percent. That tells me there is a sector of the economy with untapped potential. One that needs to be developed by people like you,” turned the Ambassador to the women entrepreneurs.
He encouraged the participants of the forum to be initiators and to find those niches wherein their ideas can turn into real business. “I understand how difficult it was to be in business in Ukraine; it was not enough to have a good idea and a business–model. You deal with bureaucratic obstacles, tax audits, and fire inspections. However, today I see that the efforts of the government and business associations are geared at liquidation of these barriers. The revolution on the Maidan had as its goal to force the government to follow the rule of the law and higher standards, and you as entrepreneurs can help to carry these views further, exhorting your government to reform and thereby simplify and make it easier to run a business.
Ambassador Jeffrey Pyatt added that it is not necessary in Lviv to explain to what a degree there is an advantage in an agreement about free trade with the EU. “However, in Eastern Ukraine there are many small and large businesses who do not fully understand these advantages. Their trade connections were traditionally tied with another neighbor – with Russia. And it seems that many of them use the argument: either EU or Russia. But this is not a choice between one or the other. Ukraine should work in both directions since your geographic location will not change, and Ukraine will always remain the bridge between Russia and Europe – and this should be an enormous advantage in the long-term perspectives for all of you.”
UCU Rector, Rev. Dr. Bohdan Prach, in turning to the women-entrepreneurs, stressed: “It is very good that women in the contemporary situation are actively represented in the Ukrainian business sphere. Until now, the role of women was somewhat hidden, but right now women are adding a new tone to society. Thanks to their abilities, they can vanquish at the most complex moments.”
The Forum of Women Entrepreneurs attracted women from Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Ternopil, Volyn, Dnipropetrovsk, Kherson, Odesa, and Zaporizhzhia regions. “Such an event proves that women-entrepreneurs should unite in order to search for shared points of intersection, similar problems and their resolutions — states the Dean of LvBS, Sophia Opatska. Right now there are so many challenges in our society (economic, social, political). Thus, the more that people will unite, the clearer it will become on how we should respond to these challenges.”
Among honored guests and speakers at the Forum were: Evelyn Buchatskyj, partner and business-accelator of Eastlabs; Ahniezhka Bilinska, manager representing Vital Voices from Poland (an organization which supports and inspires active women throughout the world); Maria Kotvitska, director and co-owner of the international agency Aftermarket Global Vision (AGV), author of the project business platform for women www.ukrainky.biz; Sophia Opatska, Dean of LvBS, UCU; Tetyana Herasymova, owner of a consulting agency for financial issues Viedis; Tetyana Romanenko, business-trainer for issues of improving skills of financial literacy, head of management of the credit union Yukon; Oksana Ruda, director of ICAP program Unity; Svitlana Honcharova, author of a popular resource for mothers www.flymama.info; Andriy Hrynchuk, lawyer, managing partner of the law firm Hrynchuk, Mazur and Partners; Leonid Zolin, coach, author of a unique system of visual psycho-diagnosis; Taras Khoma, LvBS lecturer, financial expert; Otar Dovzhenko, a media expert, lecturer in School of Journalism, UCU.
Organizers of this year’s forum were the Lviv Business School (LvBS) together with the Ukrainian Women’s Fund, the consulting agency Viedis, social network of women-entrepreneurs Ukrainians in Business, and the curator of the program Invest for the Future in Ukraine, Maria Kotvinska. The event was held with the support of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine.