Imagine a little girl growing up surrounded by shoemakers, the sounds of hammering and the smell of glue. Once she turns 18, she starts to breathe new life into her family’s shoe business that today has become one of the biggest in Ukraine with three concept stores in Kyiv and Odesa.
“When I decided to take on the business, everyone was against my decision. They told me it was hard and not a job for a woman. But I truly believed in it. Besides, there is an absolute advantage when you are working in a family business – there is a 100 per cent level of trust,” says Alina Ocheretiana, co-owner and CEO of Kachorovska.
The roots of the Kachorovska brand can be traced back to almost a century ago, when Alina’s grandmother started to make shoes, first at home and then in a small factory near their house. The business then passed down to Alina’s mother before it was finally taken on by Alina herself.
Kachorovska’s team grew rapidly from 10 to 150 employees within a couple of years, which entailed changes in its management structures and optimisation of business processes.
As with any business, there comes a point where challenges reach their most acute.
EBRD and EU support efficient operations
At this stage Kachorovska approached the EBRD for assistance - the company needed an international accounting information system. With financial support from the EU under its EU4Business initiative, the shoemaker implemented best practices for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
“Apart from practical advice on how to access the EU's single market and market products, one of the main goals of the EU4Business initiative in Ukraine is to improve SMEs' access to affordable financing and knowledge. We are closely working with the EBRD and other partners to make sure that Ukrainian SMEs like Kachorovska can benefit from this support,” says Matti Maasikas, EU Ambassador to Ukraine.
“I think that such initiatives are very important because they are game-changing. Had we not received support from the EBRD and the EU, maybe we would have never even dreamed of introducing it,” Alina stresses.
“It’s been almost a year since we started working with the new software. We are now able to keep track of all spare parts in the factory, which in its turn influences the planning process and helps us identify the prime cost.”
“When we help such companies with huge potential like Kachorovska, our main goal is to give the necessary knowledge and best practice tools to help them develop their business further and reach new targets,” says Kateryna Rigg, the EBRD’s National Programme Manager for SME Finance and Development in Ukraine.
Kachorovska is thinking of adding two additional lines for its stores – toddlers’ and men’s – and has aspirations of expanding and taking its products abroad.