Winners of the all-Russia Social entrepreneur competition
The interest-free loans charity, Our Future, has approved 15 projects from the same number of regions totalling 50.6 million roubles.
Winners included social entrepreneurs from Archangel, Astrakhan, Voronezh, Irkutsk, St Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Orlov, Sverdlovsk, Tver, Yaroslavl, Altai, Krasnoyarsk, Krasnodar, Perm and Moscow. The competition’s geographical remit has now been extended to 52 regions. Projects from Tver and Orel were successful for the first time.
Funds were awarded to a multi-functional production and tourist centre in Tver called Konakovsky Pottery. After the Konakovsky earthenware factory went bankrupt, a businessman, Valery Solonbekov, brought together a team of artists, painters and modellers to create new trends in artistic ceramics that incorporate the very best craftsmen’s traditions passed down through the generations over the past 200 years. The workshop site was not quite geared up to handle work of this nature which has led to the construction of a new 765 sq. metre building to where production is to be shifted.
It has been suggested opening a factory for tourists in which masterclasses would be run. Our Future is planning to put their grant towards erecting a new building and installing new equipment. Solonbekov wants to increase the number of staff from 5 to 50.
Two entrepreneurs from Orlov, Irina and Oleg Fominy, were successful in their Russian manufacture of orthopaedic shoes project entitled RINTEK. 98% of Russian materials are used by RINTEK in the manufacture of orthopaedic footwear and insoles which meet national and international standards. RINTEK is the only Russian outlet that produces high quality and affordable orthopaedic footwear, so much so that companies from Belarus and Uzbekistan are already taking an interest in what RINTEK is doing. Ten per cent of those currently involved in milling and cutting work are hard of hearing and the company also takes part in Government programmes to provide footwear for disabled people. Their grant will be used to expand their manufacture base and increase product volume.
Support is also being given to projects aimed at creating new forms of rehabilitation, improving quality of life, the socialisation and employment of disabled people, museums, robotics courses, medical services, sports and child development centres.
“It has been good to see the diversity and high quality of successful projects this autumn”, said Natalya Zvereva, Director of the Our Future charity. “We have been supporting social entrepreneurship for more than 10 years so we are pleased to see an increasing number of entrepreneurs who are helping to bring about positive social changes. I hope the projects we are supporting this time around will be just as successful”, she added.
A full list of competition winners can be found on Our Future’s website.
The Regional Social Programmes’ charity, Our Future, was established in 2007 and is the brainchild of the businessman, Vagit Alekperov, which aims to develop social entrepreneurship across Russia. The charity looks for the most promising innovative ideas and projects and for ways in which they can be successfully put into practice. It has supported 197 projects from 52 regions to the tune of 483.9 million roubles over the past ten years as part of the All-Russian Social Entrepreneur competition. Financing is provided in the form of interest-free loans.
The charity awards an Impulse of Goodwill prize for significant contributions to the development and promotion of social entrepreneurship, provides advisory and information support for social entrepreneurs, runs an information and analytical, New Business: Social Entrepreneurship, website and develops educational and legislative initiatives in the social entrepreneurship sector.
The More than a Purchase! project was launched in 2013 at the charity’s initiative which provides social entrepreneur access to large retailers.