Facilitating SMEs access to the European markets

  • 21.10.2014
  • Author: Kristina Avramchenko

The Support for SMEs in Accessing EU Markets project is aimed at helping to redirect Ukrainian business from Russian distribution markets (which are closing) to the European ones – as well as giving practical recommendations as to how small and medium-sized enterprises take advantage of the Ukraine–EU Association Agreement.

4 training sessions for representatives of small and medium-sized business were conducted as part of the project in the leading industrial centres of the east and south of Ukraine, in particular:

  • in Dnepropetrovsk (July 31)
  • in Kharkov (August 7)
  • in Zaporozhye (August 14)
  • in Odessa (August 21) 

The participants’ commitment and thirst for knowledge have shown yet again that this issue is relevant for small and medium-sized enterprises. In spite of the difficult political situation, over 150 representatives of small and medium-sized business took part in the training sessions.

Here is the list of those who helped spread information about this event, through mailshots and personal invitations: 

In addition, relevant announcements were placed on the following information portals:

Opening new distribution markets is fraught with many obstacles: (and it is difficult for SME’s to overcome them alone) lack of information in Ukrainian concerning EU product requirements; lack of opportunities to secure financing for re-equipping production facilities and to conduct market research to come to underatnd what products can be competitive in the EU; difficulties related to product certification according to the EU standards etc.

The main issues discussed at the sessions were as follows:

  • European Union as a trade partner
  • Defining markets and identifying potential partners
  • Informational and marketing support for export activities
  • Ukrainian companies’ experience in the EU markets
  • Company registration with customs agencies and export customs clearance procedure
  • State support of export activities and allocation of quotas
  • Product certification and other permits 

Aside from this, the participants of the training sessions had a unique opportunity to consult with the lecturers’ on specific issues concerning their businesses, while consultation tables were open (during the last two hours of the session).

The participants were asking where exactly they could get a European quality certificate for their products, how to communicate with local authorities and to make information requests to the Government. They were also interested in the possibility of securing gratuitous market research and in the contact information of the EU entrepreneurs.

Taking into account a number of requests from Ukrainian manufacturers, asking for help in finding partners in the EU, we believe that in future it would be beneficial to organise events involving European companies and industry associations interested in cooperation with Ukrainian companies and experience sharing.

Among the lecturers were:

The second stage of the project consists of developing a road map for the opening up of EU markets. The main goal of developing the road map is the creation of a practical manual for the opening up of new markets in the EU for representatives of SME’s. Its content will be based on the questions the entrepreneurs are concerned with most of all (as per the results of the training sessions).

The road map will include practical examples which will help the entrepreneurs understand how to identify markets in which they could acquire a market share (which countries, products etc.), where to look for information on export requirements, what the procedure of quota allocation will entail, where to get the certificate of conformity to international and European standards etc.

The project is being developed with the financial assistance of the International Renaissance Foundation and the Open Dialog Foundation.

The possible directions of development of the present project are:

  • Continuing the training sessions in the same format in other regions of Ukraine
  • Conducting specialised training sessions for certain industries
  • Developing and implementing an online training course in opening EU markets for entrepreneurs
  • A project centered on sharing experiences with the EU and looking for partners (organising an exhibition of products on the Ukrainian-Polish border, internship of Ukrainian entrepreneurs in the EU)

We would be very grateful if you could donate any amount to support any of the aforementioned projects which are designed to facilitate the development of export to EU countries by SMEs.

For questions regarding cooperation, please contact:
Head of the project: Kristina Avramchenko
Email: kristina.avramchenko@odfoundation.eu
Tel: +380934203444