Kyiv, 13 October 2021 – The East Expo 2021 – the country’s biggest business exhibition for micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises from Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson oblasts, this year held on 13-14 October, kicked off today in Kyiv.
Every year, East Expo gives entrepreneurs from eastern Ukraine an opportunity to present their companies at a top-flight business exhibition, finding new customers and introducing the public to the products they make.
East Expo 2021 is organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) within the UN Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme, with the financial support of the European Union and the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine. The event is conducted in partnership with the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, Luhansk and Kherson oblast state administrations, Donetsk Oblast Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Ukraine.
Speaking at the opening of the seventh annual East Expo business exhibition, UNDP Resident Representative in Ukraine Dafina Gercheva congratulated the participants and their partners and stressed that the exhibition was an important tool for supporting local economic development.
"UNDP has been working in eastern Ukraine since 2015 to support communities, businesses and local governments in the east,” Gercheva said. “Since 2015, almost 1,500 companies have received grant support, about 4,000 jobs have been created, and about 10,000 entrepreneurs have gained new business skills. Today, MSMEs make up most of the enterprises in Ukraine and around the world, and are essential factors in job creation and in the global economy.”
Gercheva also stressed that despite the economic difficulties caused by the ongoing armed conflict, the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors, enterprises in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts have proved to be highly resilient, determined, and innovative. They continue to operate, grow, and expand in response to market demand.
In his welcoming remarks, Rémi Duflot, Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to Ukraine, noted that SME development was one of the key directions of EU-Ukraine cooperation.
“It’s a privilege for the European Union to be a key partner and supporter of the annual East Expo event,” he said. “East Expo has already established itself as a dynamic platform for developing the links between businesses from eastern and southern Ukraine with the rest of the country, with the EU, and with other countries. A stronger SME sector diversifies the Ukrainian economy and strengthens its resilience.”
Duflot also referred to the social and economic fallout of the pandemic – a crisis that has hit economies around the world. He noted that the ongoing EU4Business programmes assist SMEs across Ukraine to gain access to finance, markets and skills. He also highlighted the assistance mobilized through the 'Team Europe' approach, which is aimed at mitigating the economic impact of the pandemic and helping companies emerge from the crisis.
In addition to the traditional presentations directly at the event location, the exhibition is being shown online: You can view various products and get acquainted with the businesses on the East Expo and Diia.Business websites, where the profiles of about 150 companies are presented. Each profile contains brief information about the company, along with photo and video presentations.
David Schlaefer, Senior Assistance Coordinator, the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine said it was a great pleasure to open the East Expo 2021. He welcomed the entrepreneurs from Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson oblasts to the event, saying it was aimed at strengthening business ties, exploring new partner opportunities, promoting products, and facilitating access to new markets.
“The economic recovery of eastern Ukraine is among the United States’ top assistance priorities,” Schlaefer said. “We’re honoured to be contributing to the United Nations Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme, which strives to revitalize eastern Ukraine’s economy by strengthening local business capacity and job skills, supporting home-grown entrepreneurs, and promoting access to new markets and trade links,” he added.
Valeria Ionan, Ukraine's Deputy Minister of Digital Transformation, emphasised that one of the ministry’s objectives of is to turn Ukraine into a country of entrepreneurs.
“To make this happen, we’re implementing a large-scale business development project called Diia.Business. It’s essential for us that micro and small enterprises feel they have the support and aid of the state. That’s why East Expo is an excellent platform for showcasing regional entrepreneurs at the national level, and for networking and building new partnerships.”
About East Expo
From 2017 to 2019, East Expo has been held in Kramatorsk, Sievierodonetsk, Kyiv (twice) and Lviv. In 2020, due to COVID-19 pandemic-related restrictions, the event was held online in partnership with the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine. In total, during the exhibition's existence, it has been visited by more than 10,000 people, and 260 local manufacturers have presented their products. At the most recent events, 70 percent of the participants have established business contacts with new partners.
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), the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, and the governments of Canada, Denmark, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden and Switzerland.
Yuliia Samus, UNDP Communications Team Leader, email@example.com