EU4Business trains Ukrainian producers to move forward during pandemic

Together with the Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine, we continue a special project concerning the opportunities provided by the EU to small and medium-sized enterprises under EU4Business initiative to tackle the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. This article will tell you how one of the Centers for Information Support to Businesses, created in Ukraine under EU4Business initiative with the support from EBRD, helps Ukrainian manufacturers tackle the consequences of the coronavirus crisis.

Beginning from 2017, the Center for Information Support to Businesses (CISB) in Rivne, created on the basis of Smart People, has been specializing in working with Ukrainian manufacturing companies, organizing educational events, training programs and consulting projects aimed to enhance organizational capabilities of Ukrainian manufacturers.

15 Centers for Information Support to Businesses are currently operating in Ukraine with the support from the EU. There, you can receive a consultation, attend trainings and webinars which for the duration of quarantine are offered free of charge and held mostly in the online format.

After in March 2020 Ukrainian manufacturers entered a period of recession and were subjected to quarantine restrictions, the CISB in Rivne focused its efforts on helping them adapt their working procedures to the new conditions.

 Taras Komarenko, Head of the CISB in Rivne and Smart People CEO

“We requested leading Ukrainian business experts to develop a roadmap of managerial decisions for owners and managers of Ukrainian manufacturing companies. As a result, we created a special project “Managing a manufacturing company in the times of coronavirus crisis”.

As part of this special project, we held eight online meetings with experts to help Ukrainian manufacturers:

  • update their business goals for 2020 and adjust their development strategies for 2020-2021;
  • change the supply of manufacturers’ values according to changes in the structure of demand and in adaptation of products to the attainment of new objectives of customers (update the marketing strategy);
  • revise the current financial situation in their business, and change sales, expenditure and investment budgets;
  • ensure safety of personnel at work;
  • understand changes in the supply chain;
  • reorganize their production processes in the conditions of low utilization, eliminate losses and increase operational effectiveness;
  • create a system of continuous internal communications and personnel motivation.

During the first month, these online meetings were attended by more than 1 thousand owners and managers of 680 Ukrainian manufacturing companies.

Today, their number is only increasing, because all recommendations are freely available for viewing at Facebook and YouTube.

As part of the project “Managing a manufacturing company in the times of coronavirus crisis”, recommendations to Ukrainian manufacturing companies were provided by Roman Havrysh (marketing), Mykhailo Kolisnyk (finance), Volodymyr Savchuk (finance), Natalia Kadya (internal communication, leadership, safety), Vitalii Ivakhov (development strategy in new conditions), Bohdan Mazurkevych (operational effectiveness of production processes), Ruslana Korzh (personnel management) and Olha Peretiatko (reorganization of sales).

Short videos with recommendations concerning key managerial decisions were created after every online meeting. Short recommendations and videos of meetings can be viewed here.

One of the companies which took the opportunity to talk to business experts was Edelvika from Lutsk.

It is a closed-cycle sewing enterprise producing a full range of products, from threads to garments. With the outbreak of the pandemic, the company’s management set itself the goal of ensuring confidence of their employees in the tomorrow.

Nobody was going to be laid off. The management decided that the company’s biggest value is its employees, and therefore, they immediately started to look for solutions of how to act in the crisis conditions.

 Oksana Antoniuk, Director for Economics at Edelvika

“From the first day of quarantine we worked with realization of the fact that perhaps somebody’s safety or even life depends on us.

We all knew that we go to work to make sure that our colleagues, medical personnel and other people are safe.

We began to produce a special type of water repellent fabrics for face masks and make protective suits.

Like for the majority of other companies, the beginning of quarantine was a stressful period for us. There were many questions as to whether we’ll be able to continue working, what will happen to our sales and our funds, what decisions we should make, and how to keep our employees safe at the production site and in the office.

Online meetings with experts helped us find answers to many difficult questions. Our company is implementing a cost-effective production process; we partially use certain lean tools and teach our employees to see losses.

Online meetings with experts in cost-effective production helped us better understand how to engage employees in the implementation process and make sure that everyone is interested in the company’s profitability.

After a meeting with a financial expert we turned attention to the financial indicators which previously were unimportant for us, and mastered several analysis options: “debtors” and “creditors”.

After a meeting with a marketing expert we realized that we should revise our product range, find out what the market needs, and make products that would give job to our employees and would be needed in the market.

These online meetings became for us not just a source of recommendations but also a realization that in the future, we will be moving only forward. Successful growth is possible – all we need to do is to learn how to use what we have the right way.

I participated in all meetings with experts and had my colleagues view the videos addressing the topics that are the most relevant for us.

I am sure that recommendations provided by the experts will remain on our agenda for a long time to come. We are happy that all these videos are freely accessible and that we can view them all again.

Today, we are planning our future: what actions we will take in the nearest month, three months and year to live through the coronavirus crisis. And not just to live through but to flourish.”

The quarantine allowed Magnit furniture company from Bila Tserkva to implement the long-nursed projects.

 Yevhen Saveliev, Magnit CEO

“For us, the period of idling became an opportunity for development. From the first days of quarantine we began implementing those projects for which we never had time in the past.

Presently, we have plans to implement lean thinking in sales and production; we have already launched a new production site and started to build another one.

All videos which I viewed as part of this special project became a sort of a guide for me: at some points, I knew how to tackle this or that challenge and the experts only proved me right, but some things were new to me.”

The quarantine forced Garne sewing company from Rivne to take a fresh look at their business processes and prompted them to get training.

 Oksana Kharkina, Garne co-owner

“In the beginning of the quarantine, when businesses in Ukraine “stood still” for some time, we had the opportunity to catch our breath, close long-lingering issues and start thinking about what to do next.

For us, it wasn’t a period of stagnation.

Online meetings and videos with recommendations from experts prompted us to sort out our business processes and inspired us for changes.

We took a different look at the safety of employees, realized that we can work from home if necessary (working online wasn’t as scary as before), and outlined the areas of development.

In the future, we will face many other crises and quarantines. But, having received a large base of useful advices, we are armed for the future.”

For Garant-Export furniture company from Novohrad-Volynskyi, the quarantine began with a large-scale project: implementation of cost-effective production processes at all manufacturing sites. They have been working for three months on how to make the company more efficient.

 Mykola Andrushchenko, Garant-Export Director

“The quarantine provided a good opportunity to set everything straight at our company. We focused upon eliminating losses and improving production processes.

Expert recommendations provided as part of this special project allowed us to get ready to work in any conditions. We were able to eliminate limitations and put our finances, teamwork and production processes in order.

We also changed the structure of our marketing department, organized additional trainings for its personnel, revised the mechanism of interaction between the production and accounting departments, and are working on improving 1С to simplify recording of the order fulfilment process.

We are trying to automate all processes as much as possible to make sure that our employees do not waste time on routine tasks but focus their efforts on important things.

While viewing the videos of online meetings, I wrote down their recommendations. Based on these notes, I built a structural plan of what we should implement and in what sequence. So now, I know how I am going to develop the enterprise.”

“During the crisis, money does not disappear anywhere – it just slows down its circulation,” Taras Komarenko says. “The criteria based on which the customer buys things are now changing, and therefore, it is important for manufacturers to understand the new requirements to their products.

After realizing that and getting adapted to the new challenges, Ukrainian manufacturers will be able to not only squeeze their foreign competitors out of the Ukrainian market but also occupy their niche in foreign markets. And the recommendations provided in our special project will help them with that.”

By Valeria Tsukanova

Source: Ekonomichna Pravda