New Visa and Emerging Europe survey reveals 9 out of 10 women-owned Ukrainian businesses do not cross national borders

Results of recent research in Eastern and Southeastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus - conducted by Emerging Europe as part of the She’s Next Empowered by Visa campaign - show 88 percent of Ukrainian women-owned businesses operate domestically. For 42 percent of female entrepreneurs, the main source of motivation to start their own business is the desire to increase income. At the same time, 29 percent of Ukrainian businesswomen are concerned that business will leave them no time for rest. Overall, the survey proves female leaders in the region have a keen interest in digital marketing and social media and are willing to expand their businesses internationally.

KYIV, February 27, 2023 – Visa today announced the results of research into female leadership and entrepreneurship in Eastern and Southeastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus conducted by Emerging Europe, a prominent growth hub with expertise in the region, as part of the She’s Next initiative.

The extensive study was conducted in 2022 and comprised an online survey of 2,000 female business owners or self-employed women in 11 countries, including Ukraine, 75 in-depth interviews and focus groups. The findings provide a thorough profile of the average female entrepreneur from the region and will allow stakeholders to understand the struggles and challenges faced by women as they pursue their careers.

“As one of our interviewees said, it is harder for women to raise funds. It is harder in Silicon Valley. It is harder in her country of Armenia. And raising funds is only one of multiple challenges that female entrepreneurs are facing,” said Andrew Wrobel, Founding Partner of Emerging Europe. “In this research, we wanted to explore female entrepreneurship as deeply as possible and understand all potential obstacles that might influence the businesses and start-ups women create. We also wanted to explore their needs, as well as potential solutions that could empower them and help their businesses to thrive and grow internationally.”

Overall, most women-owned businesses (84 percent) in Eastern and Southeastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus don’t cross international borders (in Ukraine this number is 88 percent), but all female entrepreneurs are willing to learn about doing business abroad. 

The leading sectors where women-owned businesses operate are beauty and wellness (17 percent), retail (12 percent), agriculture and food (12 percent), education (8 percent) and PR and marketing (7 percent). Two-thirds of female entrepreneurs do not use external financing, while three-quarters do not have any employees. Some 35 percent of women-owned businesses in the region were set up with an investment of less than 1,000 US dollars. Only one in 10 women employs more than five people.

“From its start in 2019, the She’s Next program was all about empowering female leaders and local communities and helping them to thrive,” said Vira Platonova, Visa Senior Vice President and Group Country Manager for 17 countries. “That is why it is very important for Visa to learn about the specific needs and concerns of women entrepreneurs in the countries where the initiative is active. We are happy to see female leaders of Ukraine and the whole region of Eastern and Southeastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus gradually transition to e-commerce and enjoy convenient and reliable digital payments. We will use the results of the research to bring many more initiatives promoting gender inclusivity in the region.”


Key takeaways

  1. Women strive for professional and financial independence. The main sources of motivation for women to start their business are the desire to increase income (50 percent), willingness to work for themselves (31 percent) and fulfillment of a dream (21 percent).
    In Ukraine, the main motivation sources to start a business are the desire to increase income (42 percent) and the desire to be independent (41 percent).
  2. Female entrepreneurs care about their business and private lives almost equally. Respondents named business failure (29 percent), a worsening financial situation (27 percent) and neglect of family and children (25 percent) among their biggest concerns.
    Businesswomen in Ukraine, on the other hand, are most worried their business might leave them no time for rest (29 percent), the fear of failure comes second (26 percent).
  3. Women-owned businesses struggle to survive competition and raise funding. Female entrepreneurs tend to face such challenges as high competition (40 percent), raising capital (32 percent), and unfavorable business conditions (31 percent).
    Respondents in Ukraine noted that the biggest challenge of setting up and running a business in their country is high competition (58 percent), while only 37 percent and 21 percent face unfavorable business conditions or problems with obtaining financing.
  4. Female entrepreneurs want to learn about doing business online. The primary skills that respondents are willing to obtain are strategies to acquire additional funding (47 percent), digital marketing and social media (37 percent), e-commerce (24 percent) and international business development (21 percent).
    In Ukraine, the most popular skills look the same: the leaders are strategies to acquire additional funding (47 percent), digital marketing and social media (38 percent) and e-commerce (27 percent).
  5. Women-owned businesses stick to cash when paying employees and suppliers but tend to install POS terminals for customers. 42 percent of female entrepreneurs pay their employees and suppliers in cash, while 37 percent prefer card payments.
    In Ukraine, only 39 percent pay employees and suppliers in cash, and 42 percent prefer to pay by card. However, when it comes to customers, electronic payments are much more popular: 37 percent of respondents named card payments the most frequent method to pay for their goods and services and 42 percent said they prefer their customers to pay them by card. In comparison, 35 percent of female entrepreneurs said their customers paid in cash more often, and only 28 percent prefer clients to stick to cash. In Ukraine, customers mostly pay by card (37 percent versus 31 percent who pay in cash). And about half of Ukrainian female entrepreneurs named card payments as the most preferred method of payment for their goods and services.

The next stage of the Visa and Emerging Europe partnership — which has the ambitious goal of uniting female entrepreneurs throughout the region within the She’s Next community — is to provide them with a platform to communicate, mentor, exchange experiences, and expand the horizons of their businesses.

About Visa

Visa (NYSE: V) is a world leader in digital payments, facilitating payments transactions between consumers, merchants, financial institutions and government entities across more than 200 countries and territories. Our mission is to connect the world through the most innovative, convenient, reliable and secure payments network, enabling individuals, businesses and economies to thrive. We believe that economies that include everyone everywhere, uplift everyone everywhere and see access as foundational to the future of money movement. Learn more at

About Emerging Europe

Emerging Europe is a London-based growth hub that empowers public and private organisations to grow and expand internationally. Our mission is to foster sustainable growth in emerging Europe. We are a go-to partner for those looking to navigate or grow in the region. Through in-depth analysis, market intelligence, research, programmes and engaging content we help businesses, governments, and civil society organisations to thrive. We provide them with targeted insight, access to key stakeholders and data to make the right business decisions. Our online platform, Emerging Europe, is the world’s most prominent source of English-language analysis about the region.

Media Contacts

Olena Gavinska
Visa Corporate Communications Director CISSEE
+38 044 22 00 300 
[email protected] 


Oleksiy Gordeev
Senior PR consultant
+38 (096) 951 91 28
[email protected]