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"I love doing business in Russia" - three foreigners share their experiences

0 17 December 2013

Vladimir Putin has made getting Russia into the top-20 of the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings by 2013 one of the main goals of his third term in office. With the country currently down in 92nd place, there is still a long way to go. 

However, some foreign businesspeople have been successfully doing business in Russia for years already, and some of them gathered at the Moscow government’s Mass Media Roadshow, held at the start of December. They shared their experiences with Russia Behind the Headlines

Vincenzo Trani (Italy)

President and CEO - Mikro Capital

“To open a business in Russia was not difficult, the most important thing was to find the right employees,” said Vincenzo Trani, a forum member and founder of an investment company, who moved from Italy to Moscow 12 years ago.

At the time, many friends and relatives were convinced that he was crazy, according to Trani. In their opinion, he was heading for the unknown, leaving a successful career with the world’s oldest bank, Monte dei Paschi di Siena.

“Other markets do not provide such profits as can be earned in Russia,” Trani said, explaining why he decided to start investing in Russia. “Here the yield is 7 percent to 8 percent in euros, while in Italy it is 3 percent to 3.5 percent, and in Switzerland it’s 1 percent to 1.5 percent.”

An important advantage of doing business in Russia is the attitude of officials towards foreigners, he said. “When they see foreigners, they behave more kindly. You will not find this anywhere else.”

Teri Lindeberg (USA)

Founder and CEO - Staffwell

American Teri Lindeberg, the founder of Staffwell, a recruitment company operating in Russia since 2000, had positive things to say about managing a business in Russia.

“I love being in Russia, I love the business environment, I love the people I know and I even like driving here,” Lindeberg said. 

“The talent you can hire here is super-strong,” she said, adding that her accountant, who was recruited in the early 2000s, was a prime example of the quality of hires in Russia. “When you’re starting a business in Russia, your chief accountant is extremely important.”

In general, to those who have decided to start a business in Russia, Lindeberg advises that if you’re starting something from scratch, “you really need to have a plan and interview a lot of people.”

The experience gained in Russia, formed the basis for Lindeberg’s book “Making Perfect,” which contains quotes of Russian coworkers with whom Lindeberg conducted interviews in the post-crisis year – 2009, in order to understand what motivated them.

You can watch an interview with Teri here

Gregory Gorelik (Sweden)

Managing Director - Westwing.ru

Unlike Lindeberg, who specializes in the recruitment of senior and middle managers, another member of the Moscow forum, Gregory Gorelik, the founder of an online store of interior luxury goods, said it takes some time to find “presentable and polite staff.”

In addition, Gorelik was confronted with the fact that 95 percent of Russian customers prefer to pay in cash, upon delivery of the goods, which slows down the rate of return on investment.

“Our investors have to invest more and more money,” Gorelik said. Nevertheless, his business is growing, and he now claims to have more than one million customers. 

You can read more about Gregory's experiences in this interview.

Source: RBTH

Top image by Shutterstock

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