Digitalisation of Ukrainian SMEs: what was discussed at the workshop organised by the OECD

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) presented two new studies, and also held the the first OECD-GIZ workshop: from recommendations to implementation, aiming to support the digital transformation of SMEs in the Eastern Partner Countries.

The event gathered about 80 business representatives, government officials and independent experts responsible for the development and implementation of policies that should contribute to the emergence of digital solutions for Ukrainian SMEs and the further development of the sector, as well as Ukraine’s international partners.

The CEO of BRDO, Oleksii Dorogan, joined the OECD-GIZ workshop “From recommendations to implementation: supporting the digital transformation of SMEs in the Eastern Partner countries” as a speaker.

Why is this important?

OECD is an international organisation in which the governments of 37 market economies work together to develop policy standards aimed at promoting sustainable economic growth. In terms of influence, the OECD is one of the three leading global economic institutions, along with the IMF and the World Bank. Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation, the OECD has deepened cooperation with Ukraine, building on three decades of joint work. On October 4, 2023, the OECD Council officially recognized Ukraine as a promising future member of the organisation and called on the Secretary General to start the accession process.

In April 2024, BRDO joined the 30th meeting of the OECD Committee in Paris together with representatives of the Ministry of Economy of Ukraine, the State Regulatory Service of Ukraine and the EU project EU4Business: SME Policies and Institutions Support (SMEPIS).

What do OECD studies is about?

The OECD presented the relevant studies to stakeholders:

“SME Policy Index – Eastern Partner Countries 2024: Building Resilience in Challenging Times” is a report containing an analysis of regional public policy on SMEs. This year, the results of the study showed that the situation compared to 2020 continues to improve, and Ukrainian entrepreneurs show impressive resilience and adaptability, despite the challenges of war. The state, for its part, is constantly increasing the number of innovative tools to support the operating environment of SMEs and their internationalisation.

“Enhancing Resilience by Boosting Digital Business Transformation in Ukraine”. Economic challenges particularly affected Ukrainian SMEs, 64% of which were forced to temporarily suspend or close their businesses in the first months of the war. Digital technologies can help mitigate these effects. During 2023, the OECD provided Ukraine with recommendations on their use to increase business productivity, strengthen its sustainability and promote recovery.

The report provides an overview of the results of this work and considers:

  • ways to strengthen the institutional and political framework for the digitalisation of SMEs at the national and regional levels;
  • ways of targeted support for digitalisation of SMEs, based on OECD models;
  • specific ways of using digitalisation that can help SMEs to face the challenges of war.

The workshop aimed to outline a road map for the practical implementation of recommendations to promote the development of this sector of the Ukrainian economy on the eve of the launch of the OECD-GIZ project “Supporting the digital transformation of SMEs in the Eastern Partner countries”. It will provide further support to policymakers in the region, with the aim of accelerating digital transformation and digitally strengthening the SME sector.

As part of the workshop, Oleksii Dorohan presented his vision of the roadmap for digitalisation of Ukrainian SMEs, highlighted in OECD research.

According to Oleksii, the primary steps in this direction should include:

  1. Supporting the transition of businesses from 1C to using other business accounting programs. In his opinion, a good example of such support is the recent initiative of the Ukrainian Catholic University, within the framework of which students of the socially oriented training course “Crisis Management and Decision-Making in Conditions of Uncertainty” conducted a study of the transition of Ukrainian companies from Russian software to alternative products.
  2. Supporting the transition of businesses to electronic document management, because there are still common cases of only a formal transition, which, for the sake of certainty, still takes place in parallel with the printing of digital documents; a change in tax administration can contribute to this.
  3. Introducing of vouchers for services for digitalisation of businesses, which are a prerequisite for increasing the productivity of enterprises; with a shortage of personnel, which currently characterises the Ukrainian market, productivity growth is a key path to economic growth.

In the background of unprecedented challenges caused by the full-scale invasion of Russia, Ukraine is trying to continue reforms. We are grateful to the OECD for supporting this momentum and steadily strengthening cooperation. BRDO is working on the digitalisation of business within the EU4Business: SME Policies and Institutions Support (SMEPIS) project, implemented by Ecorys in a consortium with GIZ, BRDO and Civitta with the financial support of the European Union, and also, more recently, within the framework of the project “Digital Transformation Activity” with the support of USAID and UK Dev.