#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. Social startups are emerging today in almost every field of human activity. Although it would be a mistake to think that the concept of social entrepreneurship was invented only in the third millennium. The idea of using innovation and business tools to improve lives is as old as the world. We talked with the head of the Social Entrepreneurs Club Roman Granov about this.
– Roman, tell us how you got into business.
– I have a diploma in economics. I worked for the Federal Treasury for five years at the senior treasurer of the administrative department position. But in the end I decided to go free swimming. Although I was absolutely unpractised in the field of commerce.
– What or who influenced on you?
– It happened that one of the Norilsk entrepreneurs suggested that my brother and I try to implement his business idea. The venture failed – there was a conflict of interests. Although, five years later, I realized that my conditional mentor had given me even more than he himself desired. I got a colossal experience!
– In Norilsk, you are better known as the owner of the Baskin Robbins ice cream parlor.
– I bought this franchise a little later. But, unfortunately, the ice cream business was difficult. Therefore, when I was offered to undergo training in social entrepreneurship organized by the Nornickel company in 2014, I did not hesitate – I strive to jump into any window of opportunity that opens in front of me.
– What did this training give?
– It was the first dive into the business, sorted out on the shelves. Together with my brother, we worked on the Golden Vein project, which, in my opinion, would be very relevant now. It is based on the creation of a workshop in Norilsk, where plastic bags and bottles could be processed into plastic granules, and then sent to a plant for the production of plastic products.
Everyone liked our idea very much. We reached the final. The property department of the city administration even offered us a piece of land. We could accommodate there with our enterprise. But the investors didn’t give money in the end. I’m glad now, because I understand: the project was economically too ambitious.
– And what kind of social business did you end up with after training?
– I don’t have social business in the classical sense. We can say: any business is social, because it is about people and for people. But this is still not really my story. The main activity for me as an entrepreneur is development, consulting, support, audit and automation of business processes based on the 1C platform.
And the second direction is still associated with Baskin Robbins, although the cafe itself had to be closed due to unprofitability. Now we transport ice cream not in boxes, but in containers. This is wholesales to shops. In addition, in September 2021, my wife and I opened a joint venture – the cafe On a Visit. It reflects our values in life – conscious consumption, recycling, for example, used items, furniture structures made from cargo pallets, and avoiding paper receipts. Soon we will also accept plastic containers from our visitors for further processing. I am ready to take into my mind anything that Nornickel can share with the city inhabitants.
– When the Social Entrepreneurs Club appeared in Norilsk, you became its head …
– I believe that entrepreneurs should not stew in their own juice. For self-development and growth, they need communication: with each other, with customers, with investors. This is an exchange of experience and a search for interested people, the opportunity to invite new colleagues to their teams, to recharge with positive emotions and ideas.
– From your point of view, does social entrepreneurship work in Norilsk over the years?
– Yes, it does. Each of us understands: even if you do not directly help people with disabilities or orphans, nevertheless, you give some social benefits to society. It is clear that the pool of people you help may be negligible, and nevertheless these are specific people. They have specific problems that you solve. And that’s great.
It is impossible to comprehend all this on your own. Let’s be honest: there is not even time for self-study. Yes, we read books and business publications, we like certain authors. But the conclusions we draw from our entrepreneurial experience are not always correct. If I hear several points of view about the same story and they coincide with mine, that’s great. That means I understand this story correctly. And if they are different, I am ready for discussion and will only adopt proven new items.
Text: Elena Popova, Photo: personal archive of Roman Granov