​​The article was published in Forbes.

Forbes Ukraine will for the first time present Next250 - a list of 250 promising small and medium-sized companies. We believe that the future lies with them.

"Our company will be known all over the world as a manufacturer of high-quality goods from Ukraine," shares the plans of Tetyana Shelest, who together with her husband built the company SheMax, which produces vacuum cleaners for nail salons and exports them to more than 30 countries. It is for the country to know about hundreds of such entrepreneurs that Forbes Ukraine made the NEXT 250 project. The goal is to explore and show the country's entrepreneurship in all its diversity.

Did it work for us? Here are a few examples. A manufacturer of meat snacks with revenues of UAH 500 mln. One of the world's largest producers of rope made of wood wool. An entrepreneur who in nine years built a network of express hairdressing salons with 150 outlets in six countries. A Goldi clothing manufacturer that successfully competes with foreign fashion industry grandees. We discovered hundreds of talented and yet unknown entrepreneurs. The SMEs selected for the list were divided into seven categories: manufacturing (95 companies), services (46), food industry (41), light industry (33), creative industries (18), HoReCa (11), and retail (6). Total revenue of 250 companies in 2022 - more than 39 billion UAH.

The first plan was to issue the NEXT 250 in several iterations: we were afraid that it would be difficult to find 250 companies in two months. The difficulty turned out to be something else - to stop at 250. There were so many worthy applicants that it was possible to do both 350 and 400.

Vira Platonova, senior vice president, regional manager of Visa in Ukraine, Georgia, SND countries and Pivdenno-Skhidnaya Europe.

Enduring character is a good word to describe the NEXT 250 list in times of war. "I will not stop and will do everything to keep the enterprise running," says Oleksandra Ukrainets, co-founder of Kharkiv-based Sanimed, whose revenue fell 22 times from UAH 472 million. After the relocation, the business is already gaining new clients. Another case study: on April 26, Slavyansk-based tile and porcelain stoneware manufacturer Zeus Ceramica filled out an application for the Forbes NEXT 250 list; on May 5, two Russian X22 missiles completely destroyed a successful export factory with a 20-year history. "We will win, we will rebuild," says company founder Viktor Levit.

Most of all SMEs from our list are from Kyiv. Almost every tenth company is from Kharkiv. More than ten companies from Lviv, Dnipro, Odessa, there are interesting ones from Vinnichyna, Khmelnytskyi, Volyn. There are many businesses from the frontline zone and cities under occupation.

Ukrainian SMEs continue to create goods and provide services despite the challenges of war, and we will continue to tell the stories of companies from the first NEXT 250 list over the next few months.

How Forbes selected candidates for the Next250 list

The list included companies with annual revenues from UAH 10 mln to UAH 1 bln (some well-known companies and chains of establishments were not included due to exceeding the upper limit). The NEXT 250 did not include companies belonging to financial and industrial groups, Ukrainian representative offices of international companies (or if the controlling stake in the company belongs to a foreign investor), state-owned companies. IT-companies and technology startups Forbes will evaluate in another project - startup rating from Forbes Ukraine. Some entrepreneurs asked not to be included in the list, and we took this into account.

The list includes many businesses from regions that have been hit hard by Russian shelling or occupation, so their revenues in 2022 are significantly downgraded. But we believe in the character and future of these companies.

Read the full Forbes Next250 list here.