Over a year ago, a few friends of mine, Stuart and Dave, had the great idea to initiate a collaboration of Ukrainian artisans and Peace Corps Volunteers. Now, it should be stated that partnership is not abnormal – in fact it is essentially required during Peace Corps service. What started as a simple idea – most likely conceived while sipping tea – has blossomed and grown into its current form: Eastern Rinok.
This is a unique collaboration designed to teach Ukrainian artisans how to register and utilize the Etsy online marketplace to sell their handmade goods to the global market. This is not a common concept or practice in Ukraine – it is still a new method of entrepreneurial self-promotion. While social media is used to market some of their products locally, bringing their crafts to the world may not have ever been considered a possibility. It is our goal to help facilitate that.
Currently, there are 13 members (Ukrainians) and that number is growing with each five-part training. This is a project I am in the early stages of orchestrating here in Zaporozhye – very early stages. Not only will we be attempting to identify local craftsmen and women, ideally we are hoping to provide this training to the disabled community in the city – it is difficult to find work in Ukraine, yet many are highly skilled artisans. Below is a summary of the project:
Eastern Rinok is a project designed to help Ukrainian artists and entrepreneurs sell their handmade goods using the online sales platform, Etsy. The name “Eastern Rinok” is a word combination derived from Ukraine’s location in Eastern Europe, and the Russian word for marketplace, Rinok (ринок). Ukrainian artists of all backgrounds and influences interested in selling their handmade products (such as soaps, dolls, flags, blankets, souvenirs, etc.) are encouraged to join the vibrant and international Eastern Rinok community. With the help and guidance of Peace Corps volunteers in select cities Ukrainians artists will have the opportunity to open online shops to begin selling their products to a wide international market, all the while learning important business and language skills. In addition, the Eastern Rinok Peace Corps community will help promote the products of its members among friends and family in the United States and throughout the world. The mission of Eastern Rinok is:
To provide motivated and hardworking Ukrainian artisans and entrepreneurs with the educational materials and support to develop successful online businesses, and to improve the quality of life of all project participants by creating a positive and diverse learning and working environment.
To help prepare Ukrainian entrepreneurs for success, Peace Corps volunteers have developed a technical training and assistance program to help entrepreneurs become highly skilled business professionals. Our training program includes seminars on how to:
- Take and upload pictures to the Internet
- Interact with customers who buy your product
- Market your product to interested buyers
- Ship your product overseas
- Organize and manage your business
- And much more…
Eastern Rinok is not for big business developers. The program is offered to self-motivated and hard-working small business entrepreneurs looking to expand and share their business and talent. Our program helps guarantees Ukrainian product authenticity, while transferring important skills for business success.
One of the best parts of this project is the sustainability component. Volunteers are working with Ukrainian trainers who lead workshops in Russian – thanks to the amazing efforts of Sveta Maiurenko – and eventually Ukrainian. This enables the Ukrainian trainers to continue the project after the Peace Corps Volunteer returns home. Beautiful, right??
Take a minute to visit the team page above and peruse the items for sale. They are all high quality hand-made items from right here in Ukraine! If you are looking for something in particular and you do not see it, please let us know. Some items can be personalized and made special to order. More to come with this great project idea, stay tuned.
Do not hesitate to shoot me an email with any questions about this or other projects at any time: firstname.lastname@example.org.