The business club movement in Ukraine is only taking off. Today, an entrepreneur may think that there is an incredible number of business clubs in Ukraine, but in fact, if one takes a closer look and considers every single so-called organization, he or she will notice that there are actually very few authentic, high-quality business clubs.
I would divide all business associations in Ukraine into four main categories:
- Lobbying business associations that include a broad range of companies of small to large-sized businesses. Their key goal is lobbying for certain issues. These include the American Chamber of Commerce, the European Business Association, and the Union of Ukrainian Entrepreneurs. This is one format, one role, and one function.
- Branch business organizations that bring together representatives of one branch, such as the real estate market or manufacturers of industrial goods, etc. The life of these business associations revolves around the exchange of experience on specific issues of their branch, as well as, in part, around lobbying.
- Networking platforms, which can also be named differently. Many of them are called clubs, but, in the conventional sense (with respect to the English concept of a closed club), they are not clubs. They do not combine companies as do the previous two types of organizations. Instead, they unite people: entrepreneurs or directors. The key role of the majority of these networking platforms can be narrowed down to two formats: first, speakers’ presentations on various topics, and, second, acquaintances and exchange of experience.
- And last but not least, classic business clubs that meet all the criteria of a true closed club are on the way of their formation in Ukraine. The authentic closed club constitutes, first and foremost, on very clear and uncompromising membership criteria. And personal criteria for them are always on the fore, while formal criteria – belonging to business or some other sphere – come next. Personal criteria include positive reputation, high ethical, intellectual and cultural standards, track record, and background. This is because to create solid foundations of trust, good atmosphere, and high-level discussion space, one needs to look first at personal criteria, and then at business ones. In Ukraine, the focus, in the majority of cases, is on business criteria, skipping the most important ones – personal criteria, without which a real club is impossible to imagine.
But it is a nice fact to realise that the club movement in Ukraine has started to develop dynamically. And this is good because the role of business associations in the life of society or the country is substantial. It is known that throughout history, new institutions, universities, and even entire parties have emerged out of small groups and clubs.
Why do businessmen join these clubs or clubs like these?
I would highlight four key factors of such motivation:
- Belonging and self-identification. It is important for people to show themselves and others that they belong to a certain social class, have access to some places that others do not have, and that they are different, that they vary;
- Developing your personality. In clubs like these, one can meet a lot of smart and professional people from different spheres, and one can learn a lot from them. The concentration of a large number of professionals in one place creates a unique opportunity to get knowledge constantly, develop through the exchange of experience and communication with others;
- Access to new high-quality and strategic opportunities for developing somebody’s business or projects. Let’s take an example of our CEO Club: we have 200 successful entrepreneurs, which is a total of 4,000 years of business experience in various fields, if we take into account that each member of the club has an average of 20 years in business. This is a huge resource, as is access to other various valuable resources, such as: finance, valuable information, new markets, customers, partners, intelligence, expertise, etc. They are owned by a total of 200 members of the club; and
- The opportunity to become more powerful together and to leave a mark on history. By joining other club members, we are able to do great social, charitable, or other projects that positively transform the world around us. In addition, such unity adds subjectivity to relations with the government, politicians, and major national or global institutions. Through this subjectivity we can do things that we couldn’t do alone.
The CEO Clubs’ participation in the public and social life of the country
Members of the CEO Club Ukraine are owners and managers of medium and large businesses. These are leaders who take responsibility not only for their own wellbeing but also implement many important projects for their country.
For example, in 2019, members of the CEO Club founded the social platform Generation+, which aims to support teenagers from vulnerable categories during the adulthood transition. The goal of the project is to show children the right behavioural models, open up opportunities, and give an impetus for development.
In the winter of 2020, members of the CEO Club initiated and organized the first panel discussion, hosted by the World Economic Forum 2020 in Davos, on the new stage of strategic economic partnership and the value opportunities that Ukraine offers today.
The CEO Club also co-organized the “Greening Ukraine” initiative. The goal of the eco-project is to create a collective national success story of Ukrainians, form a high-quality image of the country, make a positive example, and at the same time draw attention to the ecosystem restoration problem.
In the spring of 2020, the CEO Club initiated a fundraising campaign for medium-sized businesses to address the problem of COVID-19. Due to the efforts of the CEO Club members and friends of the community, more than UAH 15 million was collected for the purchase of artificial ventilation devices, automatic test devices, and other resources that medical institutions need. The Club also sponsored the publication of Chandran Nair’s book The Sustainable State: The Future of Government, Economy, and Society, by means of the Ukrainian Association for the Club of Rome, published in September.
In 2020, the CEO Club co-founded “Editor’s Club”, a platform for uniting the progressive intellectual elite of Ukraine, which aims to support independent media and bring public discussion to a new level of quality.
The CEO Club is actively involved in the issues of public policy reforms and their implementation; our members are members of almost all government groups and councils that relate to the development and support of business and investment.
Sergiy Gaydaychuk, President of the CEO Club Ukraine