Kyiv, 20 January 2019The readers of have chosen their favourites from the Big Stories of Small Businesses video contest. The project saw the creation of a series of motivational videos about entrepreneurs from Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and the Azov Sea coast of Zaporizhzhia Oblast. The results of the online voting showed that the readers liked three video stories the most – ones about gingerbread cookies in Druzhkivka, about a dance studio in Sloviansk, and about world-famous wooden toys from Berdiansk.

First place: Gingerbread Bakery "Prianvil", Druzhkivka

Natalya Rak is the subject of the story of Prianivil. She left Donetsk with her family in 2014 and moved to her hometown in Druzhkivka. She soon came to a plain and simple realisation – she had to start all over again. Her culinary hobby of making decorated gingerbread cookies then came in handy. She started posting photos of her work on social media and her friends started to place small orders. It didn’t take long for a breakthrough to come along, and when Natalya got her first big order, she realised it was time to register as an entrepreneur and expend her business.

Maria Dergachova, the producer pf the Prianivil video, shared her thoughts with us about tasty and creative cooperation with Natalya.

“Should I say that we stuffed ourselves with gingerbread cookies?” Maria said. “This was a case when you couldn’t stay disengaged while filming a video – you dive into the story from the moment of its creation until the final product is released. Natalya was amazed by all the interesting details of the filming process, and we – the filming crew – watched, gaping, as a shapeless lump of dough transformed into a ginger bread cookie that looked just like a toy for children. And what a taste! Did I say that we stuffed ourselves with gingerbread cookies?”

Second place: “Gratsia Dance Centre”, Sloviansk

The next story to impress the audience the most was the story of the Gratsia Dance Centre – one of the calling cards of Sloviansk, which was very famous outside of the city. The studio opened 30 years ago, and hundreds of dancers have grown professionally here winning prizes in dancing tournaments. When the armed conflict broke out, the vibrant dance life of the studio stopped abruptly: the town’s House of Culture, where its dancing halls were located, was damaged. But Oleksiy Ovchinnikov, the head of Gratsia, found a way out – in place of the five halls lost in Sloviansk, he opened 10 others in four towns. Director Orest Smilyanets filmed the video about Ovchinnikov.

“Children and teachers put a lot of effort into dancing. You can feel it during each rehearsal and with each choreographer. Working this hard brought “Gratsia” golden cups, it keeps them in a good shape, energises them and fills them with the love of life. We hope that these positive feelings have rubbed off on the viewers of our video,” said the producer.

Third place: Wood Trick toy company, Berdiansk

A Wood Trick company in Berdiansk makes world-famous toys. Illya Belchev founded the company in 2015. The company produces toy and souvenir products from eco-friendly plywood. Raw materials are purchased from Belarus, while machinery is supplied by reliable Chinese partners. The company has distributor warehouses in Europe and the United States. Wood Trick products are sold in Africa, the United States, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, France, Canada, Sweden, Poland, China, Singapore, New Zealand and in other countries.

Director Dmytro Kaminsky made the video about Wood Trick.

“I remember how we arrived in Berdiansk at 6 a.m.,” Kaminsky said. “Everything was covered with a blanket of thick fog. At one point, a guy dressed in a suit appeared right out of the fog. It was very epic, just like a film about superheroes. My colleague then said, ‘Look, it’s their local Elon Musk.’ Later we learned that one of Wood Trick’s models indeed appeared in an ad Musk’s company used in the United States. The filming process was so cool. Now when I hear from someone that ‘nothing gets done in Ukraine and that everything has been stolen’ I have pretty compelling counterarguments.”

The makers of the most popular videos will get cash prizes: UAH 25,000 for the first place, UAH 15,000 for the second place, and UAH 10,000 for the third place.

Media enquiries:

Maksym Kytsiuk, Communications Associate, UN Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme,, +380 63 576 1839


The United Nations Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme (UN RPP) is being implemented by four United Nations agencies: the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).

Twelve international partners support the Programme: the European Union (EU), the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the governments of Canada, Denmark, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland & the UK.

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