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It seems that the program “From idea to business: pre-accelerator” has just started – and students have already completed more than half of the course. They went through the search of the idea of your social enterprise, the formation of a value proposition and the development of a business model. We decided to ask students about their ideas and the path they have overcome while developing their social startup.
The «Banderivsky Shkron» («Bandera cache») center for ATO participants and their families has existed for 4 years. Its purpose is to help soldiers and veterans recover after participating in hostilities, as well as support them in crisis situations. “A year after the center was founded, we realized that we should not count on private donations or state aid,” said Natalia Cherniy, the co-founder of the Center and a participant of the Pre-Accelerator of the Ukrainian Social Academy.

To achieve financial stability, the founders of the «Banderivsky Skhron» decided to start their own social business. One of the veterans who lived in the center used to sell coffee. Another one invested the payment he received for the injury into the purchase of equipment. Thus, the social enterprise “Coffee from cache” appeared at the center. “We started this business without really understanding what business is. But in spite of everything, sales volumes were gradually growing,” Natalia comments.

This year the center has also launched a carpentry workshop that makes wooden toys. “There are several components in our work – enterprisess help support the work of the center. In addition, we engage veterans in the work because work helps very much to adapt to a peaceful life.”

Natalia says she came to study at the Academy in order to understand how to properly balance the financial and social components of the enterprise. “We want veterans who work in our center to receive full and regular salaries. After all, the earned money goes to pay for accommodation in the center,” says the founder of the project.

Lydia Sobolenko worked as a marketing manager at Microsoft, developed a virtual reality startup and in her spare time she helped stray animals. And then she decided to create an Una Terra social project, which will help pets abandoned by their owners.

The idea of Lydia’s startup is based on the production of recycled clothes for dogs and their owners in the style of family look. The collections were developed by a Ukrainian designer Yana Chervinska, an expert in sustainable fashion projects. The author of the project plans to give part of the profit to a volunteer organization that works with stray animals. “I communicate with them a lot and I know all their problems and needs,” Lydia comments.

The social enterprise will focus primarily on the Western market. “In my opinion, such a product will sell better in Europe and the United States because clothing made of recycled materials is very expensive. One must first unpick it, carry out ecological processing, and then sew it again. And it is still difficult for Ukrainians to understand how clothes made of recycled materials can cost so much,” says the participant of the pre-accelerator.

Lydia says she decided to study in order to better understand social entrepreneurship. “I thought I had a complex business model because in addition to the business component, there is also a social one. And then I attended conference on social business and realized that my business is a social enterprise,” Lydia comments.

Victor Pidhryshnyi, a participant of the pre-accelerator and head of a “Creating Ukraine together!” Charitable Foundation, plans to create a tailoring workshop that will employ women after their maternity leave as well as women of retirement age. “It is often difficult for young mothers to continue doing what they did before they had a baby. Retired women also have a problem finding work. ”

For the company’s employees convenience, they plan to organize a kindergarten at the workshop. Women of venerable age have another problem – a lack of communication. So they will be offered training courses and masterclasses where they can spend time and communicate.

Victor believes that the most important thing for him in training was to get knowledge of branding and marketing. “It was important for us to work out the philosophy of our brand. Many tailoring workshops fulfill orders of other brands and we want to create our own clothes.” The workshop is planned to be launched in the summer and now the founders are looking for funding. “Studying at the Ukrainian Social Academy helped me to form a holistic picture of my project. After five weeks of studying, I learned how to structure my ideas logically. After all, when you focus on a holistic structure, you quickly see the shortcomings in your plan,” says Victor.

“During each module you see how the ideas of the participants are supplemented, developed and become more holistic. It’s very inspiring. Someone enrolled in the course without having an idea of their social enterprise and they found it during the course. Someone came up with an idea and tries to develop it as much as possible. And someone already has an MVP and wants to strengthen their product / service.

But what unites the students is that they have dropped their fears and doubts and every week they are one step closer to starting their own business. All of their ideas have excellent prospects for development and opportunities to make an impact, to solve important social problems, says Yulia Pelypenko, manager of the “Social Entrepreneurship: from idea to business” program.

We will know very soon which of them will come true, there is less than a month left until the last module. The best projects will have the opportunity to continue their studies at the Accelerator and participate in the competition for non-refundable investments from the Academy. And we promise to keep you up to date with the latest news – follow us on Facebook.