Maksym Kozhemiaka, a cofounder and marketing specialist at Kyiv’s HUSS printing house, tells about how a small company can receive an international grant for business development.
Why the company needed a grant
A couple of years ago, our entire team was niggled by one question: “Who are we?”. The answers we received were very diverse, like “family business” or “printing house”. But one of the responses has shocked us: “We are amateurs”.
Why was it so? On the one hand, we have been active in this business for over 15 years to date, using the best printing equipment (Heidelberg, Horizon) and expendable materials (Huber, Flint Group and Munken, UPM). And our customers included renowned Ukrainian and international companies, such as Bayer, Rehau, Eridon.
On the other hand, we did not use international standards, i.e., generally accepted and well-known standardization and quality management systems – ISO 9001. Because of that, we could not regularly monitor product quality, and because we did not have international certificates, we could not enter foreign markets, and therefore, enlarge our customer base.
Having realized the magnitude of problem, we decided to implement an ISO 9001-compliant standardization system at our company. Our friends helped find a solution – they advised us to apply to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which for several years in a row has been offering a grant program for development of small and medium-sized enterprises financed by international donors, the biggest of which is the EU. Thanks to this program, we received good specialists to work on our project, and thanks to the EU’s initiative, EU4Business, a partial (50%) reimbursement of our investment.
How a few simple steps helped receive money
The procedure of submitting a project application was quite simple. To begin with, we did our “homework” – prepared company registration documents, information regarding the number of personnel and financial statements for the last two years, and completed the application form (in Ukrainian, which is convenient).
After completing the application and sending the document package, we received a positive response. To be honest, we were very happy, because this decision meant that we now had an opportunity to implement an ISO 9001-compliant quality management system in a very short time.
How they implemented ISO 9001 and how it benefited the business
After our grant application was approved, the bank’s specialists explained all opportunities for our business and the algorithm of interaction with our consultant. We had the option of choosing themselves the specialists with whom we would subsequently work on our project, finding them either in the market or among EBRD-accredited companies. We did not want to waste time on looking for contractors, which meant a delay with implementing ISO 9001. Therefore, after choosing specialists from the list provided by the bank, we set about implementing quality standards at our enterprise.
All procedures took a couple of months. After finishing the project, we paid for the consulting company’s services ourselves and provided a confirmation of the work done by the consultant, and after that, received a 50% reimbursement of the entire project amount. In our case, the total amount was €3 thousand.
However, the most important thing for our printing house was not even the grant but the experience in working with an international organization and, of course, the result. The new instrument financed under the EU4Business initiative will help our business develop. And the fact that we obtained, thanks to ISO 9001, a better management of product quality and afterwards new clientele and the chance to enter international markets is also very valuable.
For your information
HUSS is a family-run printing house founded in Kyiv in 2001. The company offers a wide range of printing services, from booklet printing to book publishing. The enterprise works with large and medium-sized companies in Ukraine, and receives orders from foreign customers thanks to implementing ISO 9001 standards. HUSS received two grants from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in 2017 for ISO 9001 certification, and another grant in 2018 for implementation of a CRM system.
By Maksym Kozhemiaka