The Baltic Sea Initiative for the Development of Business Activity of Refugee Women

Major national organizations hosted a Fair to strengthen Ukrainians in Lithuania entrepreneurial skills and spin business

07 June 2024
On Monday, major national organizations hosted an Entrepreneurship Opportunities Fair at Tech-Park Kaunas, inviting Ukrainian women to enhance their entrepreneurial skills and accelerate their business ventures. The event provided a platform for Ukrainian women entrepreneurs to share the challenges they face in starting businesses and seek advice on establishing their companies.
Technical details

Paulius Nezabitauskas, Director of Tech-Park Kaunas, fostering a startup community, opened the event by highlighting the value of business growth and incubation programs. He noted that these programs are essential not only for learning how to set up and manage a company but also for building a strong social network that keeps entrepreneurs motivated and confident in their ideas.

“The geopolitical situation is rapidly changing and on the one hand, this presents challenges for small businesses, on the other hand, it offers opportunities to react, adapt, and find their uniqueness. Business management practices and legal regulations are constantly changing as well, so it is important to stay updated with new knowledge and insights from experts who apply the latest entrepreneurial practices,” Nezabitauskas said.

Empowering Leadership

Svitlana Knyzhka, CEO of Nova Post, a prominent Ukrainian parcel logistics company in the Baltics, shared her professional growth story. Under her leadership, the company has doubled its sales and attracted 15 major players in the Ukrainian pharmaceutical market.

“Operating and cooperating in a competitive environment is a significant challenge. The support of the community and personalized advice are invaluable. I highly suggest not doing everything alone, but seeking support and discovering the communities,” Knyzhka remarked. Her leadership has led to the expansion of Nova Post’s network in Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia, including partnerships with major online marketplaces like No Other and

Diverse Organizational Perspectives

Tech-Park Kaunas collaborated with Ukreate Hub, the Refugee Council of Lithuania, and the Charity and Support Foundation FRIDA to present business support tools and initiatives for aspiring entrepreneurs. Experts from Innovation Agency Lithuania, ChangeMakers’ON, VMU Law Clinic, State Tax Inspectorate under the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Lithuania, and the Kaunas Customer Service Department of the Employment Service introduced their consultation services.

“At the event, we launched a new business incubation program for Ukrainian women. We see a growing trend in Lithuania where starting a business is becoming easier, thanks to community members who share their experience and advice. Through networking events, learning programs, and the business incubator, we aim to create a synergy for learning, making valuable contacts, and expanding markets,” said Živilė Paužaitė, Quality Manager at Tech-Park Kaunas and representative of the business incubation program of the Interreg BSR program “BSI_4Women”.

Transforming Hobbies into Businesses

Participants were keen to explore business opportunities in Lithuania, learning about business development tools and entrepreneurship skills programs. Many initiatives are tailored for women, including childcare services for mothers studying entrepreneurship, addressing psychological adaptation to a new country, and other relevant topics.

“Ukreate Hub empowered participants by showcasing business development tools and entrepreneurship programs, particularly relevant for those interested in launching ventures in Lithuania. Alumni who recently graduated from the business skills program exemplified this value. They are excited to transform their hobbies into businesses. For instance, Svitlana, who is starting her marshmallow business at the fair in Kaunas, not only solidified her brand but also gained valuable initial market feedback,” said Kseniia Nezhyva, Project Manager of Ukreate Hub.

Addressing Additional Challenges

Akhtar Mohammad Akhgar, Programs Coordinator at the Refugee Council of Lithuania, highlighted findings from a research project on the needs and challenges of entrepreneurs, especially refugees. “Key challenges include access to financial support and funding, lack of information about business ecosystem, language barriers and cultural differences for refugees to start a business,” Akhgar said.

At Foundation FRIDA, the team works with women in post-traumatic situations and deep uncertainty about their future, making effective integration challenging. Although there are successful examples, widespread success is limited.

“What is most lacking are universal training and placement programs that can be adapted both in Lithuania and in other countries, both after and during conflicts. To encourage women to participate, quality childcare must be guaranteed. Long-term, ongoing activities are the most successful, as it takes time for Ukrainian women to get to know each other and become involved,” explained Daiva Baranauskė, Director of Foundation FRIDA.

The collaborating organizations plan to continue hosting similar events and networking sessions, inviting participants to engage in entrepreneurship skills training programs in future meetings.