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Trade, cast iron smelting and iron ore mining: what kind of business do Ukrainian women do?

In 2020, women opened 5% more sole proprietorships than men. Furthermore over the past 10 years, women have 25,000 open sole proprietorships more than men. This means that during this period women became entrepreneurs 1% more often.

Over the past ten years, 2,772,787 businesses have opened in Ukraine, 2.3 million of them are sole proprietorships and almost 497,000 are companies. The business was actively opened in 2018, and the lowest rate was in 2012 and 2014. This is stated in the YouControl study.

Dynamics of opening companies and sole proprietorships over the past ten years

At the same time, in 2020, almost 6% fewer sole proprietorships were opened and 25% fewer companies than in 2019. However, this is still significantly higher than in 2014.

In general, over the past four years, there has been a tendency for women to open sole proprietorships more often than men. However, over the past decade, men have been almost three times ahead of women in starting companies: 320,000 versus 129,000.

Over the past ten years, the gap between the number of companies open by men and women has changed little from year to year. However, positive changes can be noticed—in 2010 the gap was 40%, in 2015—38%, and in 2020—almost 36%.

It is worth noting that women are more often registered as sole proprietorships (in 90% of cases) than LLC or PE, because this form of organizing their own business is more suitable for industries women would like to realize themselves in, explained Hanna Sakhno, the economist at the Centre for Economic Strategy.

"This is, first of all, the service sector: the beauty industry, clothing manufacturing, handmade jewelry, and home decor. Also sole proprietorship is a legal freelance. Women earn money as translators, SMM managers, freelance journalists, copywriters, and tutors. In addition, sole proprietorship is much easier to register and cheaper to serve, this form is more suitable for beginners."

Hanna Sakhno

Hanna Sakhno

economist at the Centre for Economic Strategy

In addition, she notes that this trend is observed around the world. In recent years, a large number of programs have appeared in Ukraine to support women’s business from local and international partners. Also, women are mastering new sectors of the economy, where it is more expedient to register companies: for example, travel agencies, legal and financial services.

Share of businesswoman in Ukrainian business centers

Over the past three years, the largest cities in Ukraine have seen a reduction in the gender gap. The most notable changes have taken place in Kyiv. Now the percentage of women who own companies in the capital has grown to 26%, and in 2018 their number was 23%.

In Dnipro and Odesa, women beneficiaries are now 27% each, and there were 25%. The number of entrepreneurs in Lviv also increased: now it is 26%, and it was 24%. Their number grew least of all in Kharkov from 25% to 26%.

Among the beneficiaries in the TOP-330 of the largest companies in terms of revenue in 2019, women were 16 times less than men.

Of the 330 largest companies in terms of revenue in 2019 (from 2.853 million UAH to 85.7 million UAH), only 11 companies have a woman as the sole beneficial owner.

In three of these companies, women are nominal owners, that is, they are not the real owners of the business and do not directly participate in the decision-making process, but only exercise management in favor of third parties, usually male relatives.

In another 24 companies out of 330, both women and men are among the owners. And the 185 largest businesses belong exclusively to male. Of all companies, 33% did not report an UBO.

«I would look at the statistics positively. Closing the gap indicates that society is developing. Unfortunately, the principles of equality are not absorbed by society as quickly as one would like. But there are shifts. A lot of educational projects, artistic, social ones, telling women about opportunities, teaching leadership, teaching to build their own business—they give results.» 

Yaroslava Kravchenko

Yaroslava Kravchenko

founder of the Wild Theatre, host, ambassador of the international movement for solidarity for gender equality HeForShe

Kravchenko also notes that among her entourage, half of the managers of cool projects are women. For example, the brand Zarina, founded in 1998, or startups and initiatives of the 2010s, such as: Patent.bot, Vsi.Svoi, Tabletochki.

However, she believes that there are only 3% women among the beneficiaries of the most profitable businesses due to negative traditions and stereotypes that exist in society.

Industries where the largest companies are owned by women

Among the obvious leaders in terms of the main KVED (Ukrainian Industry Classification System) are retail and wholesale trade. In five companies, this is trade in solid, liquid, gaseous fuels and similar products.

In two companies this is trade in grain, unprocessed tobacco, seeds, and animal feed. In another two—dairy products, eggs, edible oils and fats.

And in a few more this is retail trade in non-specialized stores.

However, there are isolated cases of trade in:

  • cars and light vehicles;
  • sugar, chocolate and confectionery;
  • cosmetics and toiletries in specialized stores.

Also among the main KVED:

  • production of cast iron, steel and ferroalloys;
  • distribution of electricity;
  • production of railway locomotives and rolling stock;
  • mining of iron ores;
  • production of pharmaceuticals;
  • production of oils and animal fats;
  • breeding of poultry.

Top 11 companies out of 330 largest in terms of revenue in 2019, where a woman is listed as the only beneficiary:

  • Ukrpaletsystem;
  • Alliance Oil Ukraine;
  • Farmak;
  • Eurostandard;
  • Swiss Krono;
  • Vartis;
  • Oliyar;
  • Brocard Ukraine;
  • Universal Fish Company;
  • Pology Oil Extraction Plant;
  • Trade House" Majola.

According to the international ranking of gender equality The Global Gender Gap Index 2020 rankings, no country in the world has yet achieved gender equality. Iceland is ahead (with a result of 0.87).

Ukraine took 59th place out of 152 countries. According to the World Economic Forum, it will take another 250 years to achieve gender equality in the global economy. And global pay parity is likely to be achieved only in 2277.

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