#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. In Norilsk, they started talking about this phenomenon in 2014, when the school of social entrepreneurship became one of the components of World of New Opportunities – Nornickel’s charitable program. Over the years, the participants have submitted 2509 applications, of which 639 projects were recognized as winners. The company supported them with grants in the amount of 664.6 million rubles. Who are those people and how did they get into social entrepreneurship?
In 2017, when Alina Donova attended a meeting of social entrepreneurs in Norilsk, she only knew that this type of business could not only solve important social problems of society, but also bring profit to its owners. Another question is how to achieve this?
A native Norilsk resident, a dermatovenerologist, has long been eager to start her own business. She planned to open a center for aesthetic medicine.
At the school of social entrepreneurship, a Norilsk woman presented her business project, but did not receive support. Nevertheless, the failure did not break her, and she acquired a high-tech medical laser without investors’ help.
“One of its main advantages is the removal of neoplasms, the prevention of skin cancer. It should also be noted that the procedures do not require a long rehabilitation compared to alternative treatment”, said Alina.
Once, a teenager from an orphanage was brought to the dermatovenous dispensary, where Alina worked at that time. The boy had a severe form of acne. He could not be treated with expensive drugs – funding for such expenses is not provided in the orphanage.
“Many people say: age will solve the problem. But from my own experience I know: it is better to start prevention now than a person will grind his scars, including psychological ones later”, says Alina.
The entrepreneur contacted the nurse from the orphanage and agreed that she would take the boy for facial cleansing and laser procedures. Later, other clients appeared. And today, medical care and the provision of gratuitous services to children left without parental care, disabled children, as well as a 50 percent discount on hardware procedures for their parents are important components of Alina’s center.
In the second year, the Norilsk woman again enrolled in the school of social entrepreneurship. The new direction of the World of New Opportunities charitable program was launched in early 2019. Trackers – specialists in support of startups – worked with entrepreneurs for ten weeks. Together they set goals and objectives for business development, determined their achievability and linked them to dates, developed an individual strategy for studying and improving the qualitative and quantitative indicators of projects. The result was that the number of clients and revenue increased significantly in ten weeks.
“I discovered a lot for myself!”, she shares her impressions. “As for advertising and promotion, for example. Plus, I got the idea to buy a laser for the correction of vascular pathologies at my AntiAgeClinic aesthetic medicine center. What will be the social impact? Prevention of the development of oncological and vascular diseases, employers’ savings on treatment”.
Surprisingly, the pandemic and related restrictions did not affect the Donova’s center in any way. She even got more clients.
“Many Norilsk residents switched to remote work and could afford to carry out procedures that require rehabilitation”, the doctor explains. “In addition, because of the pandemic, companies made a step towards buyers, provided discounts, and this is a rather rare chance that falls from European suppliers”.
Finally, Alina Donova’s project was among the winners of the Accelerator of Social Business Projects. Norilsk Nickel provided the entrepreneur with an interest-free loan. Together with the Norilsk Development Agency, the company has developed a scheme according to which the local business is compensated for half of the cost of delivering goods.
“We have competitors in our city, but we are going to provide the Norilsk residents with exclusive procedures”, says the entrepreneur. “For example, genetic testing. Working in a clinic in St. Petersburg, I saw what results this method gives, and I am surprised that it is still not used in Norilsk. To everyone who would like to try themselves in the role of a social entrepreneur, I can say: go to your dream, no matter what! Ideas sometimes lie on the surface. It takes some time to see them. But we are changing. And we are trying to change the world around us. And this is perhaps the most important thing”.
Text: Elena Popova, Photo: Nikolay Shchipko