Social entrepreneurship awards announced in Moscow
The Impulse of Kindness Awards presented in Moscow
The Impulse of Kindness Award, established by the Our Future Foundation, is awarded for contributions to the development and promotion of social entrepreneurship in Russia.
Winners in 2022:
Under the Social Entrepreneurship Ambassador category:
- Public Authority Representative — Natalia Komarova, Governor of Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug—Yugra.
- Education — Sberbank. Since 2016, it has implemented the BusinessClass educational programme. In 2021, in joint development with the Skolkovo Moscow School of Management and SberUniversity, Sberbank launched a Social Entrepreneurship course on the platform.
- Mass Media — The Agency for Social Information (ASI).
- Company Leader — Mobile TeleSystems (MTS). The company created projects such as MTS Known Personally, helping small and micro businesses; Urban Legends, promoting the tourist potential of Russian cities and developing domestic tourism; and Social Idea, a competition of digital social solutions.
- Influencer — Denis Bogatov, the Director of the Centre for Social Entrepreneurship Development, is an expert and certified trainer of the Russian Ministry of Economic Development. The All-Russian Social Entrepreneurship Project Competition, which won Best Social Project of the Year, has been running since 2015 under his leadership.
- Best Region for Social Entrepreneurship —Astrakhan Region, where since 2014, the state has run Economic Development of Astrakhan Region, which provides financial, property, preferential, and educational support measures for social entrepreneurs.
- Fyodor Belomoyev, the founder of 4Blind LLC, received the Discovery of the Year award. Belomoyev develops and creates innovative technical solutions to improve the quality of life of people with visual, speech and hearing impairments.
- Maria Romashova, the founder of the innovative Talking City project, was named Best Social Entrepreneur in Russia.
“Since the adoption of the law [“On State (Municipal) Social Contracting for the Provision of State (Municipal) Services in the Social Sphere”], the number of social entrepreneurs in this country has doubled. This has been our joint contribution,” Natalia Zvereva, Director of the Our Future Foundation, said in her address to the award winners. “I hope that things will continue to develop, despite various difficulties. We all believe that everything will be all right. I congratulate all the winners on their victory — I wish them not to stop at what they have achieved and keep moving forward.”
“Our Future is a strategic and reliable partner for the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug—Yugra Fund. Our joint projects have become landmarks — real instruments to involve investors in social projects. The result of these joint efforts of the Foundation and the government of the Autonomous Okrug has been 310 successful social entrepreneurs, acting in stable leading positions across the country in terms of social business support,” said Natalia Komarova.
Elena Topoleva, Director of the Social Information Agency, commenting on the Agency for Social Information’s victory, said that “the focus of our agency’s work is to reflect the activities of non-profit organisations. We have always known that non-profits are also engaged in social entrepreneurship. When we write about social entrepreneurs, we write about CSOs, we write about businesses — we don’t leave anyone out. We write about these amazing people who are not just doing something useful and good for their surroundings, city, and country but also pre-calculate its economic effects, which is especially important”.
According to the director of the ASI, the development of social entrepreneurship has particularly benefited from institutions created thanks to the Our Future Foundation. She said it is essential to inform the public not only about the laws but also to tell real stories from real people — it is these stories that people believe more.
Since 2011, the ASI website has had a regularly updated column titled Social Entrepreneurship. As of March 2022, it has published 2,125 materials: including regional and federal news, announcements, notes, articles, and commentary.
The winner of the most important and anticipated nomination — Best Social Entrepreneur of Russia — was Maria Romashova, director of Talking City. The project is a digital radio information and sound guidance system which allows blind and low mobility individuals to move around the city independently, comfortably, and safely.
In just ten years, the technology has already been implemented in 32 regions of Russia. Now, the Talking City system has been included in the regulations relating to the development of urban environments and urban planning.
“We help visually impaired people navigate the city without assistance,” said Maria Romashova. “Things that are routine for us — going to the theatre, shopping, commuting to work — are a real challenge for people with visual impairments. And with the development of Talking City, we help them move around the city comfortably and safely.”
The prize pool increased by 30% to 4.2 million roubles in 2022. The Our Future Foundation, founded in 2007, is Russia’s largest non-profit organisation dedicated to supporting social entrepreneurship. Since its launch, the Foundation has supported more than 350 projects in 59 regions of Russia and has received more than RUB 800 million in interest-free loans.
Translated by Spencer Michaels