The country needs two million entrepreneurs

Elena Kowalskaya
Elena Kowalskaya - Director of Marketing Department of Oshchadbank on the new SME support program

Interview with Elena Kowalskaya, Director of Marketing Department of Oshchadbank on the new SME support program.

In 2017, the name Oschadbank sounded loudly in the segment of small and medium-sized businesses in Ukraine and still resides on the pages of the press and social networking tapes. The Bank pledged to increase the share of SME loan portfolio in the credit portfolio of the Bank by the year 2020 from the present by 30% and nurture 2 million entrepreneurs. We talked with the director of the marketing department Elena Kovalskaya to find out what became the incentive, what trends the bank sees and what is the role of marketing in implementation of this strategy.

Elena, why is Oschadbank engaged with SMEs?

While developing the bank’s strategy, we analyzed the real figures of the market and came to the conclusion that 400 thousand entrepreneurs and 300 thousand small businesses are actually working in Ukraine – a very small market. There is no potential for further growth unless new business is created. Therefore, Oschadbank decided to go beyond the traditional framework and create a new ecosystem that will nurture entrepreneurs. «The country needs entrepreneurs».

What is this program?

I’ll tell you separately for each component «In the starter package for easy and quick opening of the account and doing business, we included an instant corporate card, which is issued immediately at the office; contractoffer for 2 pages and only 2 signatures (previously the entrepreneur had to wait for 30 days to open an account and 64 times sign 32-pages for each party) a token with an electronic digital signature (EDS), and a connection to Internet banking. All this is offered in a «boxed» version, which is very convenient for the beginner businessman.

Affiliate programs provide discounts and bonuses for business from large companies, among them: Google (Internet advertising), Kyivstar (mobile communications), the «new mail» (express delivery) and Template Monster (templates for websites), etc. The unofficial title of this part of the program is «Large – to small».

The center of educational programs is a specially created portal «Be yourself!» ( The program also provides for SME lending. Within the framework of the program «Be Yourself», a business can get a loan for up to 5 million UAH in 5 working days. (approx. 150 thousand euros), incl. without collateral up to 250 thousand UAH. (7 thousand euros).

Is there any involvement of international organizations in this?

Elena Kowalskaya
Elena Kowalskaya

Yes, the launch of the program is the next stage in the implementation of Oschadbank’s strategy, enshrined in the Memorandum between the EBRD, the Ministry of Finance of Ukraine and the bank, which provided for a greater focus on banking services for entrepreneurs.

Also, in partnership with the WNISEF foundation, Oschadbank lends to social entrepreneurship at 5-10% per annum in UAH. There are programs that are working with the German-Ukrainian Fund and the European Investment Bank for 220 million euros. An enterprise support program, founded by Oschadbank in cooperation with the EBRD, provides for trade fi nancing.

What are the fi rst results of the program?

The portal was visited by more than 340 thousand users. 27 thousand people registered in the program, and about 40 thousand have passed the test for determination of the level of knowledge. There are also striking cases of mentoring sessions. During the fi rst months of the program, we over-fulfi lled the plan to attract clients to the bank. The bank headed the top 10 banks in the segment of servicing small and medium-sized businesses according to the authoritative business weekly «Business».

Finally, share your opinion on how to evaluate the eff ectiveness of such campaigns?

It is locally important to measure the eff ectiveness of the campaign by quantitative indicators- the number of those registered in the program, the numbers of mentoring sessions and entrepreneurs who have used the program. Also by the number of starting packages sold and loans issued.

However, if we talk about the achievement of our strategic goals, we still want potential entrepreneurs to get the necessary amount of knowledge for doing business, and that 2 million real entrepreneurs will work in our country. It is too early to speak about such results, but we are doing our best to achieve that.