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Promoting the Development of Entrepreneurship in Russia
Маya Berdnikova,
Vedomosti Business Newspaper Nizhny Novgorod

The U.S. Russia Center for Entrepreneurship has celebrated the fifth anniversary of its operation in Moscow. This organization was created in 2002 by the U.S. Russia Investment Fund. The Center’s founder is Patricia Cloherty, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Delta Private Equity Partners. On March 17, 2008, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin signed a decree awarding the Order of Friendship to Patricia M. Cloherty for her major contribution to the development of Russian business and for strengthening friendship and cooperation between the Russian Federation and the United States of America.

The Center for Entrepreneurship has offices in Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, and St. Petersburg. It serves as a model for setting up entrepreneurship centers in the countries of Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East.

In its short history, the Center already has succeeded in achieving splendid results, becoming a leader in its field, and putting into practice a highly effective means of support for entrepreneurs, one that serves as a powerful catalyst for the advancement of Russia’s entrepreneurial culture and the development of Russian business.

On the occasion of its anniversary, the Center received congratulations from its partners and guests, including leading Russian businessmen, representatives of the business community and public organizations, academic institutions, and the media.

Andrey Korkunov, vice president of the all-Russian organization of small and medium-sized businesses OPORA Rossii, offered words of gratitude on the organization’s behalf:

“In the period of its existence, the Center has had a substantial influence on the course of political and economic development in Russia. Today, it is completely evident that when it comes to creating a favorable business climate and developing international relationships that can increase the attractiveness of the Russian economy to investors, the Center for Entrepreneurship is one of the most influential players. My words are confirmed by the indisputable reputation of the Center in the business community.

For this, enormous credit is due to Victor Sedov, the Center’s Executive Director. It was he who succeeded in developing effective work on spreading ideas of entrepreneurship and on supporting programs and projects for the development of small and medium-sized businesses in Russia. There is no doubt that this course is the right one.

With particular satisfaction, I note the high level of partner relations between the Center for Entrepreneurship and OPORA Rossii, which are based on trust. We act jointly in a number of areas that are of the utmost importance for the Russian economy, the chief of which is widespread efforts to get our fellow citizens involved in entrepreneurial activity and to teach them to create and develop businesses of their own.”

Since the time of its creation, the Center has sought to develop an environment for networking and obtaining specialized knowledge that Russian entrepreneurs lack.

Therefore, any educational program offered by the Center implies, above all, encounters of entrepreneurs with others of their kind.

Anyone who wishes can attend the meetings of the Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Nizhny Novgorod Entrepreneur Groups, which the Center holds once each quarter.

Opportunities for learning are provided in the form of a business breakfast, which generally packs the entire hall. The participants are attracted by the relevance of the topics and the chance to discuss them with major players in the Russian business community.

Of course, not all entrepreneurs are prepared for open communication. Each one determines individually the degree of openness that is permissible for him/herself.

For entrepreneurs who would like to systematize the knowledge they amass in one area or another, the Center offers educational programs based on the best international methods, presented by experts from leading American universities.

Throughout America, tens of thousands of entrepreneurs have learned about business through the FastTrac™ program. This is a kind of mini-MBA course that enables students in a fairly short time to hone the skills needed to plan a business. The Center, together with Intel, launched FastTrac in Russia. All the instructors in this program have practical experience as businessmen and have been through a five-day training course given by American professionals.

For three years now, the Center has sent, through its partners, professors from leading Russian universities to Harvard Business School. These participants all are interested in teaching entrepreneurship as an academic subject. Twice the Center has provided such instruction in Russia.

According to evaluations by the Center for Entrepreneurship, the number of teachers who teach entrepreneurship courses for students and practicing businessmen in our country has reached a critical mass that makes it necessary to create a networking environment for these professionals as well. The Center initiated the creation of a Russian Association of Entrepreneurship Education. This association will be located at the Higher School of Management at St. Petersburg State University. Its purpose is to ensure all university and college teachers access to advanced knowledge about entrepreneurship and to give them an opportunity to network with colleagues from analogous associations in the United States and Europe.

The U.S. Russia Center for Entrepreneurship has become one of the leading entities that advance the development of entrepreneurship in Russia. Every day more and more entrepreneurs begin to understand the value of networking with colleagues and learning from their experience. In the past four years, more than 11,000 entrepreneurs, politicians, and other professionals connected in one way or another to private business have taken part in the events organized and supported by the Center. The Center has helped Russian entrepreneurs establish ties with colleagues from other countries.

Much still remains to be done to create conditions that would enable all Russian citizens to take advantage of economic opportunities. Nonetheless, the successful work of the Center over the course of the past five years instills confidence that entrepreneurship in Russia will flourish as before.

April 28, 2008