Specialised conference targets SMEs, promotes diversification
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) are joining forces to organise the second specialised agribusiness conference, “A million from a hectare”, designed to promote new business opportunities and diversification among companies in the Ukrainian food sector.
Both FAO and the EBRD will call for Ukrainian small firms in the agricultural sector to develop new approaches to business, look for new markets and concentrate on the production of high-added-value goods in order to remain competitive on local markets and maximise returns while tapping into export markets.
The conference is supported by the EU under the EU4Business Initiative which, among other objectives, is designed to offer support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the countries that will benefit from a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area with the EU (DCFTA).
The event, which will gather over 200 participants from all over the country in Dnepr, Ukraine’s fourth-largest city, is primarily designed for small domestic farmers and food processors but will also attract other stakeholders, including larger businesses and industry experts. It builds on the success of a similar industry conference in 2016 and is organised in the context of the wider agribusiness-sector policy dialogue, which the EBRD is conducting in Ukraine.
Local SMEs will benefit from the first-hand experience of successful local companies of similar size that have tested new approaches and developed successful business models. These include investments in innovation, the transfer of know-how, and access to new markets.
The EBRD will continue to offer a wide range of development opportunities for SMEs in the agribusiness sector including direct advisory services (through EU4Business as well as the EBRD-Ukraine Stabilisation and Sustainable Growth Multi-Donor Account) and export promotion programmes.
International institutions such as the EBRD and FAO are pledging more resources to support capacity-building programmes for industry associations, tailored advisory services for individual agribusiness companies and to conduct export promotion activities. Special attention is being paid to the support of innovation and knowledge exchange, through cooperation with universities in Ukraine and leading knowledge centres worldwide.
Victoria Zinchuk, Head of Agribusiness Advisory at the EBRD, said: “Our historical agribusiness investments in Ukraine stand at over €2 billion, making us the largest player in the sector. In addition to our financial activity we are working to increase SME competitiveness through a range of advisory projects collectively worth over €5 million. We expect this to result in increased productivity among local private businesses, new opportunities for diversification and expansion to new markets.”
Andriy Yarmak, Economist at FAO, added: “This is the first specialised diversification conference in Ukraine designed specifically for small and medium-sized farms interested in adding value to their products and finding their niches in the market. We are confident that the addition of value to traditional products will become the key driver of agribusiness development in Ukraine.”
The EU4Business Initiative groups together EU support for SMEs in the region of the Eastern Partnership, which brings together the EU, its member states and six partner countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
The EBRD is the largest international financial investor in Ukraine. To date, the Bank has made a cumulative commitment of almost €12 billion through 369 projects since the start of its operations in the country in 1993.