Who Drives Modern Business?

By Viktor Andrukhiv,  Ukrainian entrepreneur,  co-founder of Fibermix and Savex Minerals

For the second consecutive year, despite the ongoing war, more people in Ukraine are taking the plunge into entrepreneurship. In the summer of 2023 alone, 102,000 new businesses were initiated, predominantly within the small and medium-sized categories. These figures surpass the pre-war numbers, showcasing the resilience of the Ukrainian entrepreneurial spirit. Who are these courageous individuals starting businesses during these trying times? From my observations, they are predominantly young people.

According to a study by Rating Lab, an impressive 73% of the surveyed young Ukrainians are enthusiastic about launching their ventures and becoming self-employed. Surprisingly, 8% of them have already leaped, while 28% are planning and taking steps, and 59% are contemplating this option. Considering that young people constituted about a quarter of Ukraine’s population before the war, these statistics are striking, underscoring a significant cohort of young entrepreneurs. Presently, the most appealing sectors for commencing a business include commerce and trade, IT and online commerce, culture, and design.

But why do young people embark on this entrepreneurial journey?

Nowadays, most young entrepreneurs perceive self-employment as more than just a means to earn a living; it’s a crucial tool for personal growth and the joy of bringing their projects and ideas to fruition. It allows them to work in alignment with their passions and interests.

Beyond personal fulfillment, young individuals also aspire to make meaningful contributions to society. This new generation of entrepreneurs is deeply concerned about environmental issues and is devoted to safeguarding the world for future generations. Particularly during the war, supporting their region and country has become a priority for many. Consequently, numerous young entrepreneurs are focusing on creating startups and businesses that can play a role in Ukraine’s victory and recovery.

Who are the fresh faces of modern Ukrainian business?

Each year, a roster of successful young Ukrainians under 30 is unveiled. These individuals are ordinary young men and women who largely began their journeys from the ground up. They’ve emerged as leaders in their respective fields, inspiring others with their unique journeys.

The military also plays a role. Take, for instance, young entrepreneur Misha Rudominskyi, who, at 23, leads the development of radios resistant to electronic warfare and creates lightweight rocket launchers with self-burning engines. Another notable example is Vadym Melnyk, aged 29, who introduced an innovative solution to the drone market.

Moreover, they actively engage in social initiatives. For example, 29-year-old Yuliya Bigun, founder of a charitable foundation, educates people on preventing risks from explosive devices and employs women with disabilities and mothers of children with disabilities.

Additionally, they’re advancing education and science. Vadym Sinzheretsky, at 30, is a co-founder of a marketplace for tutors and private teachers, earning his company recognition among the best educational startups in Europe. Olena Skirta, at 29, is popularizing science and organizing the largest popular science conferences in Ukraine.

These are merely a few instances from an entire generation of Ukrainians shaping Ukraine’s future today—individuals who epitomize resilience and determination, like entrepreneur Konstantin Dudchenko, aged 27. Despite losing a coffee business in Kherson, he began anew from scratch in Ivano-Frankivsk.

What lessons can we glean from these emerging young entrepreneurs?

These ambitious, young players in the market have heightened competition. They’ve already surpassed many of us regarding results, ambitions, dreams, and goals. This spirited competition leaves no room for complacency; instead, it drives development and upholds high standards.

So, what are the key characteristics of these Ukrainian entrepreneurs, and what can we learn from them?

  • Diligence and Results-Orientation: Young entrepreneurs compensate for their lack of expertise and experience with sheer determination and dedication to achieving results.
  • Courage: Despite the challenges of war and uncertainty, they take risks and initiate new projects.
  • Understanding the Value of Reputation: They actively engage in social networks and media, collaborate with bloggers and opinion leaders, and are always ready to interact with consumers, recognizing the importance of a strong business reputation.
  • Strategic Thinking: They formulate clear strategies based on knowledge, understanding of the market, and client needs, making realistic predictions for developing their brand, product, and niche.
  • Curiosity: Young entrepreneurs constantly explore new ideas and concepts and are willing to experiment with novel approaches.
  • Lack of Internal Barriers: They swiftly adapt to new technologies and bring fresh, innovative ideas and perspectives.

In essence, the potential of this new generation of Ukrainian entrepreneurs is a valuable resource that deserves support and development. These young entrepreneurs, alongside experienced business leaders, will play a pivotal role in rebuilding Ukraine after victory. Their creative energy and receptivity to new ideas serve as a catalyst for change, emphasizing the importance of lifelong learning and the necessity to overcome internal barriers, lethargy, and outdated stereotypes.