Natalia Kurtyak and
Lana Nicole Niland
A new venue has opened in Kyiv, bringing together socially like-minded individuals together. It’s called Urban Space 500 and its menu is as refreshing as its concept
Social entrepreneurship hasn’t always been at the top of the list here in Ukraine. However, that is changing thanks to the team at Urban Space. Opening up ownership of the project to citizens equally interested in improving the social space in which they lived, the idea is flourishing in way those who have traditionally been responsible for the country couldn’t ever had imagined.
A SOCIAL FRANCHISE
Urban Space 500, recently opening its doors around Maidan Nezalezhnosti metro station, is a venue that works on the principle of social entrepreneurship, the founders of which are 500 people who have invested their own money into the development of this and other projects. Since 80% of funds raised typically go to non-commercial projects, Urban Space 500 can be considered a platform for the better development of Kyiv by private citizens.
As a network of social restaurants developing under a social franchise, the first successful institution of this type was Urban Space 100. It went up in Ivano-Frankivsk, with each individual investing 1 000 USD to fund this and/or similar projects. In comparison with Ivano-Frankivsk’s “elder brother”, the Kyiv variant is bigger and more encompassing.
The specific space in the capital is a multifunctional platform that can be used as a meeting place, a coworking area for freelancers, an area for events, and, of course, a city café. Divided into four halls, an event area, and space at the entrance, the venue can accommodate up to 350 people. Lovingly, the rooms are named after Kyiv districts Pechersk, Rusanivka, Obolon, Troieshchyna, Podil, and Khreshchatyk.
INCLUSIVITY AT ITS BEST
Anton Yadykin is responsible for the kitchen. In creating the menu, the chef was tasked with dishes that were delicious but simple enough that people from all walks would understand and enjoy. And while each option errs on the side of world food tradition, Yadykin has added his own special touches. For example, you won’t find poke bowls or sous-vide anywhere in Kyiv like those at Urban Space 500.
In addition, healthy options seemed appropriate also, so superfoods like avocado, chia seeds, flax, spinach, and different kinds of nuts can be found readily on the menu. We recommend the grilled halloumi with baked sweet potato, orange, and pecan (160 UAH) – tasty and a good option for your waistline.
On the beverage side, Elia Mykhailenko takes care of those items to whet your whistle. Most cocktails are of the classic sort, with Old Fashioned, Negroni, and Aperol Spritz among them.
Looking to accommodate and ensure an inclusive feel, Urban Space 500 has ensured their venue is pet-friendly, so you’ll often find little critters to enjoying the space with their owners. This follows that their menu, soon-to-be written in Braille, will follow. Not to mention a radio station playing favourites across the board.
Whether a current investor in this interesting project or others, the fact is that social entrepreneurship is starting to take off in Ukraine and the Urban Space projects are proof. It might have taken a little time, but the proof is in the (chia) pudding (90 UAH).
5 Tips on How to Create a More Socially-minded Business in Ukraine
Identify the problem. All ideas that stem from social entrepreneurship come from a desire to change something in the immediate vicinity. What do you want to change?
Calculate your budget and the risks. Prepare a business plan and calculate the starting capital needed to realise your idea.
Look for investment, grants, or enlist crowdfunding. Indigogo is a well-known international option, but the local option Spilnokshot (biggggidea.com) is also an option.
Engage with like-minded people. Find people who have had similar problems in other parts of the world and interact. They might be able to inspire a new idea.
Talk about your project! Be creative and look for simple solutions to marketing your idea.
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