Women building a sustainable future: Green businesses are starting to sprout in Ukraine |
Valentina and Tetiana Denysenko were forced to flee Donetsk in eastern Ukraine after an armed conflict broke out seven years ago. They moved to the Kharkiv region and founded a mini-farm, Green for You, where they now grow lettuce, herbs and microgreens – young shoots that are harvested as soon as they start to grow. Each month, the restaurants order 300 kilograms of products from the sisters.
Photo: Green for you
‘Svidomo made’ in Ukraine
This is an example of the type of projects and initiatives supported by the United Nations Migration Agency (IOM), through its economic empowerment program which, in 2016, provided equipment to Green for You.
In order to create a network of equally responsible companies, IOM launched a pilot project called “Sustainably Made in Ukraine (Svidomo Made)” in November 2020, which led to the development of the first voluntary sustainability standard in Ukraine. business for small and medium enterprises. in the countryside.
The standard takes into account the principles of the United Nations Global Compact – which include the protection of human rights, ethical work practices, environmental responsibility and anti-corruption – international best practices and national legislation.
In a recent survey, a quarter of Ukrainian consumers surveyed said they regularly refuse to buy a brand’s product if they disagree with its stance on social and environmental issues. At the same time, half of the respondents said that the most important aspect of corporate social responsibility is the protection of employees’ rights and decent working conditions, while a third indicated that sustainability and environmental protection are important.
The study also showed that 75% of SME managers are willing to accept the company’s voluntary sustainability standard because its principles reflect their own values.
Photo: made in Ukraine
The Big Impact of Small Business
Thanks to the Svidomo Made project, Ukrainian consumers have become more aware of innovative companies that support sustainable solutions. “The term ‘corporate sustainability’ is usually associated with big brands and big companies,” said Anh Nguyen, Head of IOM Ukraine Country Office. “People don’t think it has much to do with micro, small and medium enterprises. However, they are the engine of Ukraine’s economic development, providing more than half of the country’s GDP. So, while the impact of a single micro or small enterprise may seem small, their combined impact can be huge”.
For Valentina Denysenko of Green for You, the small business she runs with her sister, the goal is to support sustainable consumption and production, using only eco-friendly packaging and zero-waste technologies, but also to help children to understand why it is important to discover the world around them.
“We are going to launch a pilot project in two schools and help children create urban farms in the classroom,” she says. “The smartphone generation has no idea how plants grow or how they end up on supermarket shelves. We want to educate them, and change their eating habits, by explaining to them that adding salads and microgreens to their daily diet is good for their health”.
This story is part of the UN News multimedia series featuring prominent women leading initiatives for a more sustainable and equitable future, published ahead of this year’s International Women’s Day, March 8.