TechnoServe: From business plan competitions to “business acceleration”

March 10, 2011

I found the presentation very educational and informative. While working in the Russian Microfinance Center this summer I attended many seminars at the Ministry of Finance in Moscow, where undeveloped SMEs and lack of entrepreneurship activities were mentioned as the main stumbling blocks for Russia’s economic development. President Medvedev, when talking about importance of “modernizing” Russian economy, has explained the need for developing a middle class and microenterprises that will be able to provide employment opportunities outside of energy sector (to make Russia more competitive and less reliable on its natural resources). As far as I know TechnoServe has no projects in Russia yet, but I hope that in the future TechnoServe will consider expanding to that region.

Russian entrepreneurs have survived despite the long period of economic centralization and have continued to operate even when entrepreneurial activities could result in imprisonment; therefore, those who have survived are very savvy and adaptable. I realize that many organizations are cautious to enter this market due to the undeveloped rule of law and high level of corruption, but I believe now is a good time considering the high level of cooperation from the government in this area. If microenterprises in the former USSR had a chance to participate in business plan competitions like the ones conducted in Latin America, it would greatly boost economic growth as well as gender inclusion in the region.