Inspiring stories


In the documentary video “5 stories about business”, business owners Kateryna Burovova (Utopia 8 intelligent store chain), Tetiana Havrysh (law company ILF), Tetiana Kamienieva (restaurant “Snih na holovu”), Dmytro Chornyi and Kristina Sinhayevska (International network of fitness clubs “Malibu”) tell about their understanding of friendly business and motivation in supporting various vulnerable groups.

Documentary video "Stronger together: 5 stories about communication" shows Max Burtsev (Arriba!), Yevheniia Semenyak (Tvoy Production), Dmytro Audu (Myroom.Safespace), Yevhen Streltsov (Nakipelo) and Olga Shapoval (IT-Cluster) who tell about the correct and friendly communication with the team and clients, social responsibility and modern business trends.

Stories told by participants of the training programs of the Centre for SME Development

"Before I took part in the training program, I didn’t think I’d find people in my town who understood what I wanted to do. But thanks to the training of NGO “Actual Woman” and pleasant and interesting communication with women entrepreneurs, I found support and a lot of important information. When I joined the program, I only had one student I worked with and one course. I worked for other people to make ends meet. Now I have several groups of students and three different programs, and I have the opportunity to do quality work with everyone and it adds value to my educational services.

I became better known to my potential clients in Kharkiv and thanks to the online format I hope to reach the all-Ukrainian level next year".
Olena Zhylinkova, PhD in Law, founder of Golden Rule Law Studio and graduate of the second training program at the Business development Centre for SME Development.

"I participated in the Training program in 2019, but I remember coaches, participants and courses as if it was yesterday. The speakers helped me organize the information, figure out where and how I could use it. I got new knowledge in finance, marketing, promotion and online work. Some of the girls from my group I keep in touch with, they’ve become my clients. When I was in training, my business was still in the Donetsk region.

Of course, there were thoughts of moving it to Kharkiv, but the big city scared me. Participating in the program gave me the opportunity to get rid of my fears of the big city. When I talked to the other participants, I realized that they were like me. They are energetic, life-loving dreamers. Some time ago they also started their business and continue working quite successfully. They can do it, I can do it!".
Nataliia Rak, owner of the trade mark Prianville and “KavaVille coffee shop”, graduate of the third Training program on business development of the Centre for SME Development.

"After completion of the training programs on business development my income increases twice every year. That is, compared to the original position we have quadrupled the volume of income in two years. The number of employees has increased fivefold. Also we have entered the new market online and now our geography covers not only Kharkiv, but also all Ukraine, as well foreign countries".
Oleksandra Rudenko, founder of the Oleksandra Rudenko Training Centre, training counselor, practical psychologist, trainer, art coach, specialist in teaching methods and graduate of the first Training program on business development of the Centre for SME Development.

"Participation in training has been of great benefit to me. I got my first training in one of the toughest periods of my life, thanks to the events I got practical knowledge and a boost for business and was able to overcome life crises. Thanks to the training (the speakers of which were super professional, intelligent and mega-useful) I was able to systematize the business, identify weaknesses and strengths, correct errors and start exporting services. I also found friends and collaborators. I am now actively engaged in the tourist business. My plan is to turn dentistry into a medical tourism sphere".
Olena Chekhovska, the owner of the tourist agency “I want so!” and the graduate of the training program on business development, “Business in the EU” and “Business in turbulent times” of the Centre for SME Development.


The documentary “Vulnerability” tells, why it is important to assert your rights and how people with disabilities, representatives of LGBT+ community every day at work, in communication with others oppose discrimination.

The documentary miniseries “Twelve Ophelias” include five video stories about women who play on the stage of the M.V.Lysenko Kharkiv National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre and move in wheelchairs. The miniseries tells about the process of creation of the play by Caridad Svich “Twelve Ophelias”: how images were created, the way professional actresses collaborated with people with disabilities, how participation in an artistic project becomes a civic position and a political gesture.

"Monitoring gave me the opportunity to meet people in wheelchairs, and look at their lives in a different way. Since then, when I talk about people with disabilities I remember people I met during my volunteering. They are open and active. This project has given an opportunity to actually take measures that will help to improve the situation with the accessibility of the city space, and also in practice to understand how the public can defend the rights of those in minority. This example can be used for various socially important issues. volunteer.

Therefore, I am grateful to the organizers for the initiative and invitation of students of the Ukrainian Academy of Leadership to volunteer. I am grateful for the experience of connecting people in the right ways. I would like to see similar initiatives in Kharkiv and in Ukraine. They are absolutely necessary. I am sure that volunteers will gladly support them. For me, it was the best volunteering experience in my life".
Tetyana Hrytsyuk, a volunteer and a student of the Ukrainian Academy of Leadership on monitoring the architectural accessibility of public places in Kharkiv, conducted by the NGO "Actual woman" in 2019.


The documentary miniseries of the “Women and Figures” project consist of stories of absolutely different participants of the project; they have different age, life views, professional status. But they are united by their creativity and their desire to grow. The miniseries show what was going on “behind the scenes”, during the workshops throughout the project. The goal of the miniseries is to convey to the audience the problem of stereotypes and that in reality women of serious professions are creative, dreamy, spirited, elegant and talented. We urge you to watch!

Performance “Women and Figures” is a story about women who work in the sphere of finance. They fight stereotypes and barriers, take care of their families, engage in creativity and strive to make their most cherished dreams come true. In performance, participants use props associated with finance - big abacus and wire calculators that are not relevant anymore - and thus introduce into the production sarcastic and ironic elements of the ridicule of stereotypes that over the years formed around accountants, financiers and auditors.

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Olena, a participant of “Women and figures” project, has a routine life. Work in the morning, school preparation and dinner in the evening. She can only dream of time for herself, because she is a wife, a mother, an accountant, who couldn’t afford a hobby. One day Olena saw the registration form of the “Women and Figures” project; a project for the specialists of the financial sphere who aspire to realize themselves in creativity. Without any hesitation, Olena filled out the application, received a reply and in a few weeks she visited her first project workshop.

"I have been working in the accounting field for almost 10 years. I am burnt out, I don’t have time for myself, sometimes I don’t want to go to work, because every day I live the same scenario. I hope to find like-minded people at this project; I want to plunge into creativity, get acquainted with the theater world and become an actress!".
Olena Gakal, participant of the “Women and Figures” project.

When the workshops ended, at the first rehearsal meeting Olena, delighted with tears of joy and sometimes sadness in her eyes, listened to the script of the performance. "All these words are about each of us!" - said Olena. If you ask me to describe my participation in the project in a few words they would be as follows: sincere emotions, the joy of every meeting, the desire to create, to learn something new. Olena says the meetings inspire her to start a new working week, she doesn’t think about burnout anymore.

One of the participants of the project, Yana, was engaged in professional singing, but she didn’t have enough time for creative classes and in the end the work took away all her free time. The singing workshop at the project became an impetus for her to start doing her favorite hobby again. The coach helped Yana remember how much she liked singing and encouraged her to continue.

"... I have certain creative plans to realize while working on improving my singing after a long pause! And I can say that the workshops gave me confidence in the successful realization of my creative plans!".
Yana Zakharenko, participant of the “Women and figures” project.

“I was invited to participate in the project by a friend. It was supposed to be a pleasant pastime in the circle of colleagues. After the first psychologist's test, I decided that professional burnout did not concern me, as it seemed to me, because I answered all the questions positively. Although, in fact, thoughts of leaving my job appeared to me more than once. Constant overwork, tension, work all the time, it seemed to me, they became the cause of psychosomatic health problems.

The workshops began, and I could not answer simple questions about dreams, my favorite book, hobbies. I realized that I had been lost somewhere for a long time and I needed to change something. My director is convinced that all problems come from the head, so he solves them with a psychologist. He persuaded me to contact his psychologist for a long time, and I confirmed. I said that I agree, but he should understand that I am determined and can change everything, including leaving my job. Then he told me that it will be difficult for them, but they will adjust, the main thing is that I will be happy.

I started working with a psychologist, and in the second session I answered the question about changing my job. You can work and enjoy it, and I'm going for it. And in my big life, I take inspiration from this project and its participants!".
Natalia Amarianova, participant of the “Women and figures” project.

“The attitude to work and in the team at work has changed. I began to calmly accept my team, because everything happens in a women's team. I already look at each girl from a different angle, I find interesting features for me, I learn from them and treat adversity with humor. Before the courses, I mostly worked with headphones. And I have become even more interesting as a person for my girls.

After my enthusiastic stories about the courses, half of the girls are asleep and see themselves there too! A worthy man is now with me,we have common interests and views, and he has a sense of humor! I think that I owe this to the project itself. Because it was here that I learned not to be afraid to trust, became more open, got rid of complexes and allowed myself to simply live. Now, when something is offered to me, like flights (see my FB), I no longer refuse, as it was often, I answer "Why not?" and ask "When?". I am incredibly grateful to the teachers and organizers.

They managed to bring out into the world the good that I had long forgotten about (singing), and discover new abilities that I did not know about (dancing). I learned to relax, to listen to my body and soul, I was filled with emotions, new sensations. Now I am confident, inspired and motivated, moving on in life, and finally realized that I have great value for myself, and also that you can share only what is in you now, no more, no less. And now I have something to share!”.
Natalia Karelina, participant of the “Women and figures” project.

How can you become courageous and start allowing yourself to do what you want? The most important thing is to be open to new things, to constantly practice activities and get support from like-minded people. The participants of the “Women and figures” had a chance to live this experience through. During the first workshop, many auditors, accountants, and financiers had difficulty telling the audience about themselves, their lives, and their preferences. Another challenge was to participate in the video shoot, as professional actors have been learning this for years, and the project required you to be alone with the camera after several workshops. Each participant came through these challenges thanks to their courage, support of coaches and the friendly atmosphere of the project. 

For rehearsals, the director assembled the participants into four mini-groups instead of two workshop groups. Iryna, a participant of the project, admitted that in the past such a situation would have thrown her off balance and caused her discomfort. But after a few months of training, socializing with coaches and fellow participants, she’s no longer intimidated by any changes. Participation in the “Women and Figures” project allowed the experts working in the sphere of finance to find time for themselves, to develop the skills of playing on the stage and to tell the history of their life before a large audience. This is a story that inspires, teaches and encourages change for the better!