Breaking barriers to Agriculture in Ukraine

by MBAs Without Borders

Although, we weren't able to raise the full amount through Global Giving, we're happy to report that this project was completed successfully in 2007. Alasdair Maughan did fantastic work during his time in Ukraine.

Here is a list of his direct impact:


o Inventory of Ukraine legislation and International legislation concerning food safety (EU, WTO and international standards from Codex Alimentarius and ISO) – over 500 laws catalogued o Policy Paper on Diary Industry in Ukraine, focusing on food safety – 35 pages o Internal memo on market information for a potential IFC food safety pilot project (approved and to be launched in 2008) – 15 pages o Coordination document for CIDA involving the agribusiness component of this BEE Project, and another CIDA funded project dealing with modernizing food safety inspections laboratories – 2 pages o Preparation of presentations for IFC international conference, and for CIDA – 3 presentations o Review of documents and materials for external use (papers, brochures, PowerPoint, correspondence) – over 20 documents o Attendance at industry meetings and committees (American Chamber of Commerce, European Business Association) – 5 events. o Visits to 3 cities in Ukraine to gain first hand knowledge of issues facing entrepreneurs in agribusiness

For more information, please visit:

A full 8 weeks into Kyiv and my project, I still find myself in the process of getting acquainted with the city and the organization.

IFC has offices in three cities in Ukraine: Mykolayiv, Vinnitsya and the country office in Kyiv. In our country office, we host both the investment side and the technical assistance advisory services side of IFC, a total of 40-60 people, depending on the stage of projects.

Despite English being the official working language (and most staff being able to speak it), Russian and Ukrainian is spoken throughout the office. The office is a mix of local hires and international staff from Central Asian Countries, Russia, USA, UK and even 3 from Canada.

My team’s work area is completely open, and I can see and speak with any member without leaving my chair. The environment is supportive and ocllegial, but they expect a solid work product that meets IFC’s strict standards. I am still just getting the feel of exactly what that means as I meet my first report deadline.

The Kyiv office is perched in the Podil District, a block from the bank of the Dnipro river that runs from the top of Ukraine down into the Black Sea. Podil is an older area of Kyiv which was first populated by merchants and traders who sailed in through the Dnipro and would sell their stuff in this area at the bottom of the hills. Our building, however, is quite new and features all of the amenities of a Western office. The one drawback is fairly regular power outages which have caught me (and my documents) by surprise more than once.

When people ask, I describe Kyiv as a beautiful city … but old. Though the history of this city is all around, monuments and buildings are noticeably in poor condition. Roads and infrastructure built in the Soviet times are also aging. Finally, awkward city planning, especially in the older areas, has caused major traffic congestion from early morning, through to late evening. The metro system is efficient, but similarly busy throughout the day.

Despite a hectic work schedule, I have had the opportunity to visit the famed gold-domed orthodox churches which combine slavic and turkish influences, Independence Square, site of the Orange Revolution in 2004, and a few shows at the National Opera. With work, we made a trip down to our Mykolayiv office, where I was exposed to Ukrainian life outside of Kyiv. Gone were the Black Mercedes and SUVs, the new fahsion malls and exquisite restaurants. Instead, I exposed to a country of small villages with farmers selling their own produce on the side of the highway.

In the coming weeks, we plan to conduct research in Vinnitsya and perhaps Lviv, where I will have the opportunity to visit, and speak with, more of Ukraine.

It has been a month since I arrived in Kyiv, and it has flown by. I will describe my impressions of the city and culture in a future post. For now, I intend to limit myself to the organization and the project that I am working on.

With MBAs Without Borders’ support, I am one of 10,000 or so people working under The World Bank Group (WBG) umbrella. As a rough sketch, the WBG is divided into 5 chunks: 1) International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) 2) International Development Association (IDA) 3) Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) 4) International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) 5) International Finance Corporation (IFC)

Overall, WBG’s vision is to work for a world free of poverty. IFC is the arm that deals exclusively with private sector. IFC is in turn split into Financial Products, such as syndicated financing and equity & debt funds, and Advisory Services.

Advisory covers such things as creating access to finance, restructuring and privatizing state-owned enterprises, and improving the regulatory environment in developing countries. It is this last item that my project is involved in. The team has done two main things over the past years. First, it has published a yearly country-wide survey of 3,000 businesses that assesses the business environment and burdens that face start-up and mature businesses in many sectors. Second, based on the results of this survey, it has worked directly with government to draft legislation to improve the business environment across all sectors. Examples are laws on permits, inspections, certifications and technical regulations.

Now, the project is moving on to digging deeper into specific sectors. Our current focus is agribusiness. Agriculture has played a huge role in Ukraine’s past - both before and during Soviet times. Looking to the world markets, Ukraine has the capacity to become a strong supplier to both Russia and EU. However, poor regulations and low innovation prevents Ukraine from tapping into these markets or acceding to WTO conventions.

Over the next 6 months, I will be working with a legal analyst and quantitative researcher to move this component of the project forward. We have begun creating an inventory of current laws, and gotten up to speed on EU legislation and best practices in food safety and agriculture. We are also starting to set up focus groups across Ukraine with farmers, producers, farm managers and other stakeholders such as government officials. Our first trip, south to Mikolaiv (where IFC has an agriculture supply chain project) and Kherson is in 10 days. To prep for that, I’m creating presentation materials, developing contacts and continuing my background reading to make sure that I know everything I need to know to facilitate these focus groups and to speak at the right level with government officials.

So, that’s a (brief) background on everything project-related at the moment. Over the next few posts, I’ll share a little about IFC’s culture and life in the bubble that we call Kyiv.


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Organization Information

MBAs Without Borders

Location: San Francisco, California - USA
Website: http:/​/​
MBAs Without Borders
Project Leader:
Tal Dehtiar
Co-Founder & President
Oakville, Ontario Canada

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