Business associations and enterprises unite to support Ukraine’s economic recovery

UNDP and the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UCCI) strengthen links between Ukrainian and international business communities at Fifth National SME Development Forum

March 27, 2023

Ukrainian business leaders, government officials, and diplomats took part in the Fifth National SME Development Forum. Together, they explored strategies and tools to enable Ukraine's fast-track recovery, forging a shared vision for its economic future.

Photo: Andrii Krepkykh / UNDP in Ukraine

27 March 2023, Kyiv Ukrainian business leaders, government officials, and diplomats convened last week for the Fifth National SME Development Forum, co-organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UCCI). The forum theme, "Recovery of Ukraine: the role of business associations," drew over 400 participants, including represenatives of domestic and international business associations and chambers of commerce. Together, they explored strategies and tools to enable Ukraine's fast-track recovery, forging a shared vision for its economic future. This powerful collaboration demonstrates the commitment of all stakeholders to accelerate the growth and development of Ukraine's SME sector.

The Forum was attended, among other participants, by leaders of the International CCI, Franco-Ukrainian CCI, Canadian-Ukrainian CCI, EESC Employers' Group, European Business Association, and the American Chamber of Commerce for infrastructure in Ukraine, as well as diplomatic representatives of the US, Switzerland, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Moldova, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Belgium, Israel, Romania, Indonesia, Denmark, Austria, and RSA.

The participants focused their discussions on the following three panel topics: 

  • "Ukrainian economic miracle - programmes and projects of the Ukrainian government to create favorable conditions for foreign investments."
  • "The role of the international business community and international business associations in the recovery and reconstruction of Ukraine."
  • "Ukrainian experience of doing business in wartime, success stories as a driver of economic recovery."

Gennadiy Chyzhykov, President of the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Ukraine, said Ukrainian businesses have impressively adapted to the current situation, demonstrating extraordinary resilience in a volatile environment. “Although 85 percent of enterprises have resumed operations by the end of 2022, most are struggling to survive,“ he said. “We need further support for developing this sector and highly appreciate the efforts of UNDP Ukraine, Switzerland, governments, and organizations from other countries."

UNDP Resident Representative Jaco Cilliers emphasized the crucial role of business associations in aiding the private sector's recovery and said UNDP is committed to working with them. “With the help of UCCI and its wide international network of partners, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises can access the resources and support they need to navigate the challenges of the current economic environment and take advantage of new opportunities,” he said.  “In this way, these businesses will contribute to Ukraine’s economic recovery and growth.”

Andreas Huber, Director of Cooperation at the Embassy of Switzerland in Ukraine, said Switzerland is cooperating with UNDP to provide long-term support to 27 MSME business membership organizations representing over 5000 entrepreneurs from all over Ukraine and 75 percent of which have been affected by the ongoing war. “Despite numerous challenges, Ukrainian businesses continue operating and experiencing growth in certain industries, particularly the organic agriculture sector, compared to the previous year,” he said. “To sustain this positive dynamic, Switzerland is committed to extending its support to MSMEs until the end of 2024 and beyond, if needed.”

John Denton, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), told delegates he promised to attract the investment community’s support, work with the government to provide policy advice, and continue to introduce Ukrainian businesses to foreign partners. “We have supported Ukraine every step of the way, and we have no plans to stop,” he said. “Together, we can support the Ukrainian economy so that it can survive and prosper.”

During the Forum, the participants:

  • Highlighted the crucial role and significance of business associations in providing support to SMEs in adapting to the challenging business environment in Ukraine;
  • Identified essential tools for investment attraction and promoting Ukraine's exports to new markets, particularly in South America; and
  • Determined the most pertinent partnership models to bring domestic and foreign businesses together to develop Ukraine's reconstruction and modernization plan.

Organizers said the event’s primary outcome was an increased international focus on strengthening partnership platforms and joint efforts, particularly with business associations, to facilitate Ukraine's rapid reconstruction and recovery. 

Background: The event was organized within the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and UNDP Ukraine and with the support of the Project "Strengthening the member business associations of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises of Ukraine," which is implemented by UNDP in Ukraine in cooperation with the Ministry of Economy of Ukraine and with the support of Switzerland.