Project “School of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises” (hereafter, SMEs School) has been implemented in frames of the City Strategy priorities and Integrated Program as an effective mechanism for achieving the goals of the Bila Tserkva’s Development Strategy through 2025. The strategy identified and prioritized areas of development for the city, key among which are entrepreneurship, improving the competitiveness of the city’s business community, and increasing the investment attractiveness of the city.
Organizers of the SMEs school aimed to provide modern, high-quality knowledge and effective, practical business skills to the active residents of the city, so they may create and develop their own businesses, while taking into account the different levels of the participants’ experience.
The approach was testing new methods of engaging citizens in the development of the city, and making possible the creation of new formats of cooperation between the city government, the public, and representatives of business and civil society. This model of cooperation of small and medium-sized business can become the engine the drives Bila Tserkva’s economic development and its transformation into an innovative and modern city, while also potentially making small and medium-sized enterprises more innovative, flexible, and successful with fewer necessary resources. The small amount of people working within SMEs share the goal of financial independence and self-sufficiency, and want to feel a sense of ownership, and not be encumbered by bureaucracy so they may focus on execution of for-profit activities.
Taking the above into account, “GoLOCAL”, successfully teamed with successful entrepreneurs of the city and established a SMEs School in Bila Tserkva. The organizational support to the project was provided by Department of Economics of the City Council and by Communal enterprise “Bila Tserkva Strategic Development Agency”.
The goal of the Project is to support the development of small and medium enterprises in the region through providing modern, high-quality knowledge and effective, practical business skills to the active residents of the city. This will provide them with opportunity to create and develop their own businesses, while taking into account the different levels of the participants’ experience. Due to a well-organized education process, the school’s graduates are aware of their social responsibility to the city, namely to contribute to the improvement of its infrastructure and general development.
The selection of students for the SMEs School was conducted through an analysis of application forms, which were submitted by those hoping to take part in the course, and an interview. This approach enables selection of motivated entrepreneurs and business-owners, for which the training will be a vital mechanism for addressing pressing issues and identifying ways to further develop their businesses.
The requirements for Students of the SMEs School:
- Entrepreneurs, owners and/or managers of small and medium-sized enterprises from Bila Tserkva or the Bila Tserkva district;
- Those that have not yet started an entrepreneurial venture but have a business idea and the motivation to start their own business.
The training program attracted teachers of global best-practices in organization and management of small and medium-sized businesses. The teaching methodology was based on modern teaching methods (case studies, business games, on-the-ground research assignments), aimed at developing business students. Each student received a comprehensive study guide that contains materials on each subject covered.
Topics covered by the curriculum:
- Leadership and motivation for entrepreneurial activity;
- Fundamentals of entrepreneurship;
- Marketing support for business activities;
- Financial management of a small or medium-sized enterprise;
- Operational management—organization of production and management processes in production and service business sectors;
- Project management, ways to attract investors, and creation of business plans.
The training course took place over 6 days from 10:00 to 17:15 (16-21 May 2016). 28 people who either own and operate a small business or plan to start one, successfully completed the SMEs School and studied business lessons and acquired practical business skills, and developed a business plan for their companies’ development with the support of professional consultants.
The training took place within Bila Tserkva’s institute of economics and management, “Open International University of Human Development,” a branch of the University of “Ukraine”, which provided the teaching space free of charge as project partner.
After the intensive course, participants have 2 weeks to prepare business plans using the acquired knowledge, course materials, and support from the teachers of the school (through online communications and 3 meetings with teachers of different subjects).
Presentation of the business plans takes place over 2 days, with representatives from business, non-governmental organizations, the Agency of Strategic Development of the city, the Mayor’s Office, and teachers in attendance. The presentation takes place in an open format, and enables discussion of all participants. The 5 best projects are then selected (determined by open voting). The 5 best graduates of the first school received grants from the NGO “GoLOCAL” to develop their business activities according to the business plan (from 5 to 40 thousand Hryvnas, requiring no repayment). Granting for graduates of second school currently remains open.
In order to unite the representatives in a cluster (to protect their interests and provide mutual assistance in the development of their businesses), graduates of the school are welcomed to Alumni association. NGO “GoLOCAL” provide support to the association in entanglement of speakers, organization of workshops and thematic meetings.
- Conducted interviews with 75 candidates;
- Selected 28 participants for which a training course was conducted;
- 9 participants started their own business on the basis of the Business Plans they have developed*;
- The income of the enterprises of the participants has shown an average raise of 6%*;
- The amount of employees has increased by 12 people in average*;
- The school continues its operation. “Bila Tserkva Strategic Development Agency” continued to conduct the trainings at the School with the support and funding from the charitable foundation “K.Fund” and the Ukrainian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. 2 more graduations were held from the SMEs Schools as of February 1, 2017.
*The results of the Survey conducted among the graduates of the first School conducted in December 2016-January 2017.