150 women entrepreneurs from Ukraine redefine change at the Women's Entrepreneurship EXPO 2023 Satellite Event in Lviv


150 women entrepreneurs gathered during the Women’s Entrepreneurship EXPO 2023 satellite event in Lviv, Ukraine.
150 women entrepreneurs gathered during the Women’s Entrepreneurship EXPO 2023 satellite event in Lviv, Ukraine. Photo: UN Women/Oleh Matsko

Lviv, 27 October 2023 – Over 150 women entrepreneurs from across Ukraine, who are seeking professional growth, as well as self-employed women and women employees seeking new opportunities and collaborations with private companies, gathered during the Women’s Entrepreneurship EXPO 2023 satellite event held on 27 October in Lviv, Ukraine.

The event served as an exclusive space to facilitate interaction, knowledge exchange, increase visibility for women-led initiatives, foster connections between companies, and forge partnerships between the private sector, government, and UN Women for future alliances.

“UN Women is a long-term and trusted partner of Sweden in advancing gender equality in Ukraine. One of the key components of our joint project, “Transformative Approaches to Achieving Gender Equality in Ukraine,” focuses on supporting women's entrepreneurship and enhancing gender equality in the private sector. Women need more economic opportunities to become true agents of their lives and contribute to their country’s development,” mentioned Kasper Andersson, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Sweden.

The event provided a safe space for interaction, knowledge exchange, and building new partnerships.
The event provided a safe space for interaction, knowledge exchange, and building new partnerships. Photo: UN Women/Oleh Matsko

In an effort to explore how the private sector can benefit from engaging women entrepreneurs in their supply chains, including those affected by the full-scale war in Ukraine and women entrepreneurs from vulnerable groups, participants of the satellite event had the chance to showcase their products and services, attend masterclasses on sales and promotion, and engage in networking sessions to establish business connections.

“The Ministry of Economy of Ukraine offers various financial opportunities for Ukrainian businesses, including grants for their own business, grants for veterans and their spouses, and grants for processing enterprise - a specialized sector involved in the procurement and processing of raw products,” said Tetiana Berezhna, Deputy Minister of Economy of Ukraine. “Since the program’s inception, 3,793 women have received grants, while 3,413 grants have been issued to men. Despite carrying a lot of responsibility, our women manage to develop businesses, work, participate in grant programs, and make use of all available opportunities,” concluded Tetiana Berezhna.

Women entrepreneurs play a crucial role in economic development, contributing to employment generation, innovation and growth. They provide income for their families, employment for their communities, and create new value through products and services.

“Every second small business in Ukraine is initiated by women. Since the beginning of 2023, 36,892 individual entrepreneurs have been registered, with 51% of these founded by women," added Valeriia Ionan, Deputy Minister for European Integration, Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine.

Despite the global rise in women-owned businesses, women entrepreneurs continue facing considerable obstacles hindering their business growth.

“Gender inequality faced by women in the economy, entrepreneurship, and employment is a result of social factors rather than market laws or national legislation. It is up to us to change those social norms and standards that hinder the full utilization of women's resources, allowing them to progress in their professional fields and secure a source of income,” mentioned Kateryna Levchenko, Government Commissioner for Gender Policy.

Women entrepreneurs play a pivotal role in the economic development of Ukraine.
Women entrepreneurs play a pivotal role in the economic development of Ukraine. Photo: UN Women/Oleh Matsko

The full-scale war has affected unemployment rates across the population, with women and girls experiencing compounded forms of gender inequality and discrimination, particularly in terms of livelihoods. Pre-war conditions, along with age, disability, and other factors have further limited access to employment and financial resources, exacerbating the socioeconomic situation during the war.

“Sustaining inclusive economic growth will be a fundamental priority for early recovery and post-war Ukraine, with the inclusive participation of women defining the country's ability to rebuild and recover. Ensuring income-generating opportunities, reviving women’s livelihoods, and supporting women-led local enterprises are critical to prevent further displacement and escalations of tensions,” emphasized Julia Broussard, Deputy UN Women Representative in Ukraine.

The Women’s Entrepreneurship EXPO 2023 satellite eventin Ukraine is organized by UN Women in partnership with various government partners, including the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, the Apparatus of the Government Commissioner on Gender Equality Policy, the Ministry of Economy, and the Ministry of Digital Transformation. It also collaborates with the private sector, including EFSE Entrepreneurship Academy, GoLocal, Marie Claire Business Ukraine, Ukraine Investment & Trade Facilitation Center, WEPs signatories, companies engaged in the “Women For The Future” Initiative coordinated by Happy Monday, and the “Dream and Achieve” Initiative coordinated by Impact Force. Additionally, the event partners with international development partners and civil society organizations.

Launched in 2021, the Women’s Entrepreneurship EXPO is a unique partnership platform to promote women’s entrepreneurship ecosystem building in the Europe and Central Asia region. EXPO provides an interactive space for women entrepreneurs, investors and private sector representatives for networking and collaboration, peer learning, ideas generation, capacity building and business development. EXPO 2023 is organized by UN Women Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia in partnership with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Yıldız Holding as part of the Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator supported by Mary Kay.