The Ukrainian Business Leaders Promoting Innovation and Entrepreneurship (UBL PIE) is a three week-program for entrepreneurs, innovators, and businesspeople from across Ukraine. Throughout the program, the participants are exposed to the US organizations/corporations and policies. The purpose of this program is to promote “a culture of innovation, entrepreneurship, and competitiveness as well as improve investment and business climates.” Each participant will be matched with a US organization based on their interests, where they will spend three weeks during the program. This will allow fellows to gain leadership skills and knowledge for successful business, and have networking opportunities. Implemented by American Councils, San Diego Diplomacy Council helps support the local component of this program.
San Diego Diplomacy Council (SDDC) has been one of the co-hosts of the program, and we welcomed four fellows for this fall program: Mr. Oleksandr Kharchenko, Ms. Oksana Kikhtenko, Mr. Danylo Napadaylo, and Ms. Iryna Portiana.
Each of the fellow has very unique backgrounds and experiences as a business professional:
Mr. Oleksandr Kharchenko is a prominent Ukrainian entrepreneur with a diverse portfolio of businesses spanning various sectors, including agrifood, steel distribution, railway engineering, and logistics. During the program, he collaborated with The Brink Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the University of San Diego, which is a specialty center that helps businesses start, grow, and get financing.
Ms. Oksana Kikhtenko has been a driving force in developing the IT HR & Recruiters Community in Ukraine. She has played a crucial role in the growth of IT & Tech Companies in the country for over 9 years. She was matched with Connect San Diego for the program, which is a non-profit organization that focuses on supporting and elevating entrepreneurs in San Diego.
Mr. Danylo Napadaylo is the visionary Founder and Owner of Navigator Recreational Products. His company is a leader in Ukraine, specializing in boating, fishing, camping, and outdoor recreational equipment. He collaborated with Bay Marine Supply during the program, which specializes in specialty electrical and solar equipment for boats, RVs, service vehicles, and off-grid solar installations.
Ms. Iryna Portiana is an export/import expert with a remarkable background, and she played a key role in pioneering exports to the EU and China through the Silk Road program during her tenure at the Poltava Chamber of Commerce and Industry. During the program, she worked with Patio Productions, which is an e-commerce drop-shipping company that finds and sells high-quality outdoor furniture at mid-range prices.
The UBL PIE was the first project I worked on as a Program Intern at the SDDC. In other words, it was my first time to learn and understand how diplomacy works in real life. There were some stressful moments since we had some deadlines for the projects, but it was a very fruitful experience for me overall. Throughout the project, I learned diplomacy can’t be possible without people’s generous support and preparations, and it takes so much effort and time to make it happen. For example, we reached out to hundreds of organizations to ask for hosting the fellows, which took more than a month. There were many meetings to make sure the program will be successful, and the host organizations are completely voluntary to welcome the fellows.
We are so grateful for the host organizations who partner with us on fellowship programs like UBL PIE. We truly could not do this work without their support and expertise. SDDC is on the constant lookout for interested host organizations. Click here to find out more about what’s involved, or contact Program Director Jawad Al Baghdadi.
I also learned that people don’t usually see these efforts. If I didn’t have an opportunity for an internship at the SDDC, I would just assume the UBL PIE would naturally happen. In reality, however, there are many preparations that people don’t realize or see, and those preparations take much longer time than the actual program. Diplomacy seems very beautiful and cool, but there are a number of “behind the scenes” to make it happen.
Thanks to the internship opportunity at the SDDC, I gained wonderful experiences and insights, and the past couple months have been eye-opening. I am already excited to work for more upcoming projects and learn new things about diplomacy!