Promoting economic participation for disadvantaged groups in the Sea of Azov region

Project description

Title: Fostering economic participation of vulnerable groups including internally displaced persons (IDP) in the Sea of Azov region
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Ukraine
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Development of Economy, Trade and Agriculture of Ukraine
Overall term: 2020 to 2024


For years, Ukraine’s economy has been suffering from structural problems such as outdated production processes, while there are numerous large companies and few small and medium-sized enterprises. Job placement services are poorly developed and state support for the private sector and investment is insufficient. Outdated training and education, Ukraine’s demographic development and emigration are exacerbating the shortage of experts. Domestic political upheaval and the foreign policy crisis resulting from the annexation of the Crimea and the conflict in eastern Ukraine have intensified the structural problems.

This development particularly affects the Zaporizhzhya oblast and the region of Mariupol in the Donetsk oblast, as the Sea of Azov has been blocked for international shipping since the Russian occupation of the Crimea. The port cities of Mariupol and Berdjansk are especially hard hit here, with massive job losses in the ports and in related companies. This has led to a huge decline in employment opportunities in the region, thus impeding the economic participation of further sections of the population. As a result of constant job cuts in large companies in traditional branches of the economy such as coal or steel, the situation is expected to worsen in the near future if no appropriate countermeasures are taken. Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) need support in order to create jobs and cushion the impact of looming mass unemployment.

On top of the weak economic situation, the Zaporizhzhya and Donetsk oblasts need to cope with the influx of around 547,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs). The handful of local MSMEs and the job cuts at large companies are making it more difficult for the host communities to integrate IDPs into the labour market. A lack of employment prospects primarily affects IDPs who are qualified for professions for which there is no demand in the host regions. Others lack certain additional or key qualifications that are needed in order to find employment on the local labour market.

The situation of other disadvantaged groups in the target region is also precarious. Alongside women – in particular single mothers – this also includes the long-term unemployed, young people, people with disabilities and veterans. Without employment and adequate income they are excluded from essential elements of economic participation such as self-determination, self-responsibility and from participation in social life.


The economic participation of the population, and especially disadvantaged groups, in the Sea of Azov region has improved.


On behalf of the German Federal Government, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH supports the local population and in particular disadvantaged groups in improving their entrepreneurial skills by means of training courses and internships. The aim is to make it easier for participants to embark upon a career.

By providing training courses and professional advice, the project helps existing micro and small enterprises and young start-ups in the region to improve their business processes. As a result, companies will grow and create more jobs. The project provides training for start-up founders in drawing up business plans and accompanies them in implementing their business idea.

In addition, the project promotes local communities in establishing and expanding structures to provide corporate services, for example by setting up a tourism office. It also supports the regional administration in implementing the regional development strategy for 2021 to 2027 using training seminars, conferences and exchange formants.