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Giving work and building social ties. Inclusive business for socially vulnerable groups

The Month of Inclusion is continuing at the Ukrainian Social Academy, during which we talk about successful cases of inclusive social enterprises.

The very term “inclusion” has come into widespread use in Ukraine relatively recently and is now used mainly when it comes to people with disabilities. However, in world practice, when talking about the “inclusive approach”, many socially vulnerable groups are meant: people with disabilities, the elderly, migrants and others.

These groups of people in Ukraine face a number of barriers from social prejudices to employment difficulties. An excellent way to overcome them is social entrepreneurship, which gives an opportunity to earn steadily and at the same time solve a social problem.

This time we have selected the most interesting Ukrainian cases of inclusive enterprises that employ representatives of vulnerable groups and help them re-establish social ties.

Happy Ecowood

The HappyEcoWood social startup employs people previously addicted to alcohol and drugs, since it is hard to find a job for those people. Its founders are Yulia Dremlyuga and Vadym Moskalenko, the graduates of the Ukrainian Social Academy. The company manufactures playgrounds and  every fifth playground they give to large families. “Children in our country lack love and care. And adults often lose the meaning of their lives. Many people, addicts in the past, have been looking for work for a long time,” comments Vadym on his idea.

While studying at the Ukrainian Social Academy, HappyEcoWood developed a communication strategy. On the advice of their mentor, they took part in the 1+1 project. “But the most that the Academy has given us is the opportunity to be among like-minded people. It was interesting to learn the history of other projects, it helps to get inspiration for further work,” says Julia Dremlyuga.

Vytania Cafe

The “Viyania” cafe was founded by the “Caritas” Charitable Foundation  and operates in Drohobych. The menu includes starters and main dishes, pizza, soft drinks and desserts. The cafe is very popular among the townspeople, because it offers homemade dishes at the most affordable prices in Drohobych.

Among the employees of the cafe there are people with disabilities. And the proceeds from the sale of food go to help the poor, orphans, and people with disabilities. Every month 15-20 poor and homeless people come here: they can eat for free in a cafe or take food away. Lunches are also organized here several times a year for several dozen people at the same time.

Elderly, homeless, lonely and poor people regularly gather in the cafe. Thus, they are not only provided one-time assistance to a person in need, such visits also help them begin to communicate and interact with other people, learn about ways to solve their problems and help others.

“Our task is to create conditions for people to improve their lives themselves by doing what they can. And we must help them in this,” says Fr. Igor Kozankevych, the director of Caritas of the Sambir-Drohobych Diocese.


Emmaus-Oselya is a non-governmental organization located in Vynnyky, Lviv region, and helps the homeless, the poor and the people who had some addictions in the past. Because of the lost family and social ties, it is difficult for them to integrate into society.

The organization has a charity shop, where you can buy used furniture, clothes, utensils, household items and other things that are donated by residents of Lviv and Vynnyky.

Proceeds from the sales are aimed at helping 25 homeless people who live and work in the community, 100 homeless people who receive hot lunches every week, 30-40 people who receive daily sanitation services, and 400 people for whom Christmas dinners and Easter breakfasts are organized.

Over time, the “Emmaus-Oselya” store has become something more than a place where people buy used things. “Emmaus” positions its shop as a cultural center, where you can spend time with benefit and pleasure. A circle of Oselya’s friends gathers here, movies are regularly shown in the evenngs, different workshops, concerts, literary and artistic meetings are conducted.

The month of inclusion in the Ukrainian Social Academy continues, soon we will share the most interesting cases of social enterprises that help ATO fighters and internally displaced people. So follow the news on our Facebook page!