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160, 000 UAH AND A TRIP TO GERMANY. WHAT WAS THE DEMO DAY IN USA?

How to implement your own social project? The graduates of the “Accelerator of social entrepreneurship for startups” of the Ukrainian Social Academy know the answer to this question. They went a long way from the idea to setting up their own social business, including 5 training modules, 2 months of project-led mentoring and first sales. The participants of the program shared their stories of success and overcoming obstacles at the final presentation of the projects, which took place on October 12.

The event brought together 13 teams from all over Ukraine and its final was the awarding of 4 best projects with certificates of 40,000 UAH each. “I was struck by the fact that most projects had a conscious understanding of their social mission and how the participants were going to implement that mission. I am happy to observe such Demo Days and I hope such events will soon become a real trend. In my opinion, with such small steps,civil society is being built”, commented Halyna Yanyshivska, a marketer and jury member.

The mission of the HappyEcoWood social startup is to employ people previously addicted to alcohol and drugs. Its founders Yulia Dremlyuha and Vadym Moskalenko make playgrounds from eco-friendly materials, 1 playground out of 5, they give to low-income families with many children. “Children in our country lack love and care. And adults often lose the meaning of their lives, many people, who used to be addicted, have been looking for work for a very long time”, Vadym comments on his idea.

During their studying at USA, HappyEcoWood developed a communication strategy. And following the advice of a mentor, they took part in the 1 + 1 project. “But the most important thing the Academy has given to us is the opportunity to be surrounded by like-minded people. It was interesting to learn the history of other projects, it helps to get the inspiration for further work”, says Yulia Dremlyuha.

“Smart Bread” is a rural mini-bakery with modern products, and the part of its income goes to the children’s cultural development. Its founder, Oksana Makhanko, is a primary school teacher and knows about the problem firsthand. Thus, according to statistics, only 2% of children have travelled by plane at least once in their lives. They even hardly ever leave the boundaries of their own villages.

Oksana admits the biggest obstacle in the project implementation was her lack of entrepreneurial experience: “When I had an idea to create my own bakery and help children, I knew little about baking bread and business. Thanks to the fact that the Ukrainian Social Academy believed in my idea, I was able to move from theory to practice. Now I know that it is possible to achieve any goal, you just have to start with small steps ”, says Oksana. Now the Smart Bread team is making repairs in the bakery and has its first sales.

“Detalka” is a social project aimed at employing people with special needs and guided by the idea: “No faulty details”. It was created by Mykyta Moskovkin and Anastasia Tupa. Young entrepreneurs are planning to manufacture and sell children’s robot constructors printed on 3D printer..

“My friend Bohdan used to work as a taxi driver. Once he got into a car accident and damaged his spinal cord, now he can’t walk. So, I started thinking how I could help him. Another friend of mine, Yaroslav, was fond of robotics, so the idea to make robot constructors came to their minds”, says Mykyta, the author of the project. The project team has already made a working prototype of the robot and started conducting workshops for children.

Iryna Mykyteyek was also motivated to create a project by her own experience. “A year ago, I was skiing, got injured and realized what it felt like – not to be able to move”, says the founder of the “Small Steps” project, Iryna Mykyteyek. Subsequently, she came up with the idea of making sweets from natural fruits and berries and use the proceeds for helping children with disabilities and their families. After entering USA, the idea was scaled up and formed into a “Small Steps” project.

“I used to think that everyting I do must be perfect. After studying at USA, I realized that first I need to start doing something and then to improve it. I also had some difficulties in finding a team: before starting creating a team, I had to understand who I was looking for”, says Iryna. The entrepreneur admits that the most fruitful for her was the work with a mentor. “Since I do everything myself, I did not put the cost of my labour into the prime cost of production. The mentor explained to me that the most expensive is the labor, not the raw materials”. In the near future, Iryna plans to rent room and buy dryers for making pastila.

And this was still not the end of the prizes. The founders of “BaBulochka” bakery Olha Zhuk, Oleksandr Zabolotnyi, Alona Odarenko and Ilya Oliynyk got a trip to Bootcamp in Germany, where together with their colleagues-entrepreneurs they can improve the idea of their startup. Babulochka is a bakery whose founders plan to direct a percentage of their profits to help the elderly. “People of retirement age, especially those who live on their own, very often can’t support themselves financially,” commented the founders of the startup. In the near future, the Babulochka team plans to start selling products at fairs and finish forming a team of permanent employees.

The jury also noted the Jonathan Livingston Café. Its founders received a certificate from USA for 5 mentor’s consultations to help them improve their startup concept, give advice on team building and investment search. The project was created by the moms of children with diabetes, celiac disease and food allergies. “Now doctors prescribe a diet to people with such a diagnosis, but they have almost no place to eat out in our country,” says Olena Tronki, the founder of the cafe.

The guests of the Jonathan Livingston Café will be offered a lactose-free and glucose-free menu. “As a mom of a child with diabetes and celiac disease, I have long been looking for the meal recipes she can eat. And now I understand that there are lots of such children. And they have not only the right to life but also to a good rest and delicious food”, Olena comments. At present time the project team has found a place for their café and is ready to begin repairs.

The next “Accelerator of social entrepreneurship” program at the Ukrainian Social Academy starts this winter, you can follow the selection on the academy’s Facebook page.