Kyiv hosted the TIME TO ACT.UA National Identity Business Forum where representatives of businesses and communities gathered

18 may 2024,

On May 17, the TIME TO ACT.UA National Identity Business Forum was held in Kyiv. More than 300 small business owners, representatives of major businesses, and communities used this platform for networking, experience exchange, and new project insights.

During the 2 years of the major war, almost 2 million new IEs and more than a million companies were established in Ukraine. That said, the number of newly established companies is 5 times higher than that of the same ceasing their activities. However, according to a study of the Ukrainian SME’s needs and status, 22% of businesses have no access to credit funds and are unaware of available financing programs and ways to interact with representatives of local authorities to implement joint business projects.

Therefore, the international company MHP and the MHP-Gromadi Charitable Foundation organized a business forum to enable all parties involved to work out effective interaction mechanisms: from grants and co-financing to partnerships with major businesses.

Ukrainian business DNA: the new standard

The first panel was dedicated to cooperation between the government and SMEs, establishing ecosystem between major and small businesses in communities, and also to successful cases of local business renewal. Viktoria Kryveshchenko, the owner of the Magic Bird quail farm, which was looted during the occupation and then destroyed by a missile, and Olha Olefirenko, who established the farm in memory of her deceased father and long searched for opportunities for its development but never gave up, shared their stories of renewal.

All forum speakers identified the current markers required to increase the sustainability of both small and major Ukrainian businesses.

Yurii Kosyuk, MHP founder and CEO: My main advice to all entrepreneurs: make your team your personal priority. Be with your team even in the darkest times; when you are on the upswing, study the team’s attitude and people’s thoughts, support and reward the best, and train people. There are no small teams. If you work with at least one person, you already have a team, which is a great power. I would like to specifically address to the heads of communities. Nowadays, your role is more important than ever! The entire community depends on your decisions and commitment. You should inspire people with resilience and faith in the invincibility of Ukraine and our Victory.

Pavlo Moroz, Director of the Corporate Social Responsibility Department, MHP: Our today’s life is the result of our choice to stay in Ukraine. I mean all of you who are present here. Though primarily, the military, to whom we owe an inestimable debt. We are sincerely grateful to the main sponsor of our forum and other events, all opportunities, plans, and goals – our Armed Forces of Ukraine. Our forum’s slogan is national identity. That is, national unity, equality. Being united by our values, we, as Ukrainians, prove to the whole world that nothing is impossible. We show a unique ability to adapt, face challenges, and recover when failed. It is time to act! 

Cultural identity as a prerequisite for the Ukrainian business sustainability

The organizers dedicated the second forum panel to establishing national identity and implementing projects to shape it. The experts discussed successful cultural cases in communities and the request of residents to learn about Ukrainians via such projects as increasing the number of visitors to local museums; demand for the history of our classics, the Executed Renaissance, dissidents; and the need to watch and listen to Ukrainian content. Some important points made by the participants are presented below.

Tetiana Volochai, Director of the MHP-Gromadi Charitable Foundation: During the previous 2 years, our Foundation allocated more than UAH 70 million to support museums, Ukrainian cinema, music, theater, and literature. Our activities and projects were held in more than 1,000 villages and towns in communities, including military hospitals, centers for displaced persons, and military units, thus, ensuring access to cultural products in remote locations. Their implementation allowed us to realize that promoting Ukrainian identity – for us as the Ukrainian Foundation supported by the Ukrainian business – is in our DNA. 

Andriy Rizol, a producer and chairman of the Association “Watch Ukrainian!”: Cultural projects allow us to present to foreign audiences the identity of the Ukrainian people enabling Ukrainians to withstand the aggressor for years. Our latest case was organizing screenings of the “Culture vs War” documentary project abroad. Currently, there are 125 events held in 36 countries globally within the project. Stories of creative people who are protecting Ukraine in the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and are creators promoting Ukrainian culture make foreign audiences understand the importance of supporting the Ukrainian people. Our activity is aimed to prove that Ukrainian values ​​are in line with European ones, our mentality is similar.

Ivan Lenyo, musician and frontman of KOZAK SYSTEM band: The war made us face survival issues. The gun handling skills do not make a person a warrior. A warrior is a person who once realized that they have an enemy. From that moment on, all your skills and capabilities are used to destroy them. During the war, culture is necessary to keep the spirit of resistance, to inspire heroic deeds, to tell the truth about the war, and to support the moral and mental health of the society. The national identity should be based on historical truth, national memory, idols, dignity, national self-awareness, patriotism, sense-making, and other factors. 

The final chord of the business forum was the “Culture vs. War” photo exhibition presentation by Serhiy Mykhalchuk, the photographer and cameraman, and the Liberovs. The photo exhibition was aimed to show that during the war of mentalities and values, cultural projects are important to resist the enemy. This is the reason for businessed, communities, and civil society to unite.