3On October 5-13, the Associations Capacity Building Study Tour to Toronto (Ontario, Canada) took place. The study tour brought together founders and executives of 6 business associations created and supported by PLEDDG. The list included representatives of such Associations as Ukrainian Organic Cluster, Hoteliers and estate-owners association of Yaremche region, Association of Small and Medium-sized Exporters, the Association of Social Enterprises of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Platform “Women in Business”, Melitopol Cherry Growers’ Association.

The participants had an opportunity to improve their management and leadership skills; get familiar with the models of efficient associations management, strategic planning instruments, methods of cooperation with authorities and fundraising. The study tour also gave Ukrainian representatives a unique chance to share experience and establish partnership with Canadian associations. The study tour was organized in collaboration with Canadian Society of Association Executives (CSAE) which is a powerful organization that brings together association executives across Canada. CSAE is also the only organization that has developed a certified course on associations management in Canada.

CSAE has also created a specifically tailored training program for Ukrainian delegation. The course was aimed to develop capacities of managers and leaders of the newly-created member-based associations, introduce new models of effective governance, selection and engagement of members, fundraising and financing of associations, show instruments of strategic planning for further development of associations, ensure sustainable activity of the PLEDDG-backed associations. The participants learned how to build membership, engage new members and meet their needs, develop strategies, advocacy, and a plan for cooperation with authorities, fund-raise and finance the activity of associations, and how to efficiently manage member-based organizations.

– The economic growth of a country is impossible without creating favourable conditions for doing business. Effective dialogue among government, business and society can help us to overcome existing barriers. Business associations play a key role in this process allowing to represent interests of their members effectively. It is one of the main reasons why PLEDDG strongly supports the creation of associations and professional development of their managers and members. The Toronto study tour is a great opportunity to improve existing experience and learn about the latest efficient solutions. It is a new knowledge that representatives of business associations will be able to implement in Ukraine successfully, – PLEDDG Project Coordinator of Initiatives for Small and Medium Entrepreneurship Iryna Voitsekhivska stressed.
– Although we all know reasons for creation, peculiarities of work and, challenges within the scope of the Association’s activity, we are gaining an invaluable experience here, – Andrii Dzvicnchuk, a member of Hoteliers and estate-owners association of Yaremche region mentioned in his post on Facebook.
– In our opinion, the successful development of the Association of Social Enterprises of Ukraine requires practical understanding of the model of Canadian Association functioning and interaction between Associations and Government, – Roman Drozd, a representative of Association of Social Enterprises of Ukraine, said.

Furthermore, the study tour allowed Ukrainian delegation to get familiar with the work of Canadian business associations, share experience and build partnership relations with Canadian colleagues.

Business and community member-based associations are a proven mechanism to facilitate communication between local governments, business and community. Through associations, large groups of stakeholders can organize themselves and effectively advocate for the needs of their members and the citizens they represent. PLEDDG has supported the creation of associations as they serve several functions: enhance government accountability, improve citizen engagement, and city’s overall business climate. Our study tours are a part of PLEDDG regular work and enable Ukrainian entrepreneurs to adopt a unique experience of Canadian colleagues for building a favourable business environment in Ukraine. Small and medium-sized enterprises serve as a basis for any market economy. That is why the issue of active functioning and development of business associations is among PLEDDG priorities.