President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Ms Chupsheva, have you already begun working at the ASI in your new capacity?
General Director of the Agency for Strategic Initiatives Svetlana Chupsheva: Mr President, we are working; everything is fine, the team is getting on with its tasks. We are nearly six years old, and I recalled how in May 2011, in Volgograd, when you were establishing our organisation, you set four key areas for us: improving the investment climate in Russia, promoting business projects, developing human capital and supporting social projects.
We are moving in this direction, and most importantly, we prioritise interaction with people, developing their leadership qualities, supporting and accompanying their projects and developing their potential.
Recently, we tried to take stock of our community. There are about 600 000 people: our expert groups, public representatives, entrepreneurs, a leaders’ club, those who work with us on different projects in all parts of Russia.
When we began to collaborate with entrepreneurs, we saw the main problems related to doing business and their impact. In keeping with your directives, together with the Russian Government, we implemented the National Entrepreneurial Initiative within five years, and today Russia is among the top 40 countries with a favourable investment climate.
Business takes a positive view of all these changes, and every year, together with business associations, we publish national investment appeal ratings of the regions that show how this work is proceeding in each region of our country. We have significantly optimised all procedures. I believe all administrative barriers have been removed and today, both Russian entrepreneurs and foreign businesses are quite comfortable working here.
BRICS countries have taken an interest in our practices. We cooperate with the CIS countries in this respect. In fact, next week, we plan to visit Armenia at our colleagues’ invitation. Recently, a centre for strategic initiatives was also established there. They invited us to share our experience and speak about our projects.
It is very important that over the past six years, we have managed to build and establish the core of the vocational education system. Thank you for supporting Russia’s joining the international WorldSkills movement– the championship of working professions. I am glad to say that today our team, our young professionals, are among the best, according to foreign and Russian experts.
It is very important that over the past six years, we have created an ecosystem for the support and individual development of children and young people, WorldSkills has appeared in the regions, along with JuniorSkills for children, and you supported the Quantorium project.
Today, such children’s technology parks, which let children experiment, work in teams and learn about new projects and new information, are operating in over 30 Russian regions.
The Sirius Centre. We also cooperate with our colleagues here. In fact, we can see that children in the regions come to this system of vocational education from schools to acquire new knowledge and skills.
In summer, they go to the Sirius Centre, where they take part in Olympiads of the National technology Initiative. Therefore, I believe, we can be proud of our children. They make up our future human resources pool.
As for the future, we are currently the intellectual headquarters of the National Technological Initiative. And we have already seen results. Last year, you toured our exhibition at the Forum for Strategic Initiatives at VDNKh. Our first projects will be the basis for developing a digital economy system.
We already have the first digital management projects to be piloted in the Novgorod and Tula Regions. This will truly optimise regional governance, save regional budget funds and improve the quality of social services and the quality of life of the population.
At the previous Supervisory Board, you said that we should pay more attention to social projects, Mr President. We cooperate with the Russian Government, implementing the roadmap on the private sector’s access to the social sphere.
This allows us to attract new human resources to the regions, to update infrastructure and implement the best public-private partnership practices, especially in healthcare and education.
Vladimir Putin: I was told that you have some ideas with regard to organising work in this sector.
Svetlana Chupsheva: Yes, we had a look. We studied international experience, international and Russian practices. There is a distinct trend regarding the development of social entrepreneurship.
Today, businesses and individuals are ready to invest in social projects to support children, abandoned or neglected children, and people with disabilities, getting large families involved in economic activity, creating jobs and again getting them involved in entrepreneurial activity.
We analysed the shortcomings. The existing infrastructure and financial measures and instruments to support small businesses are not quite suitable. W also looked at how they work in South Korea, Europe and the United States.
A separate category has been singled out, the social entrepreneur. It is very important here to give initiators entrepreneurial competences, get them involved in this activity, support projects and provide financing to them. In effect, this means venture financing of social startups.
Here is a good example, Mr President. With your support, we have also established the Internet Initiatives Development Fund (Kirill Varlamov), which is one of Europe’s best accelerators to support Internet startups. With our colleagues, we also analysed and looked at how it is organised, and our associates took a training course there.
At present, we are working with them on a pilot accelerator at the ASI. In a month, we received about 1,000 applications from social entrepreneurs. There are projects in education, healthcare, culture and sport. All of them are very interesting.
We have 50 teams undergoing training now. We were also helped by big companies with social responsibility – Metalloinvest, Rusal, SUEK – that are willing to participate in pitching projects. We hope that half the projects will definitely be financed.
Therefore, we would like to ask you, Mr President, to consider the possibility of establishing a fund to support such social projects in Russia. It seems to me that this would have a significant effect.
We have analysed international practice: each dollar invested in developing social entrepreneurship in Shanghai yields seven. In other words, by getting people involved in business, in entrepreneurial activity, and by training them, we can really boost the economy in the regions and increase the number of small businesses.
Vladimir Putin: Let us look into this together with the companies. I believe eventually they will also be interested because [they] need to work among their employees, their employees’ families. This may be very interesting.