Sorry for not updating the blog earlier, our last days in Russia were quite intense. We traveled to Yekaterinburg, the third most important city of Russia, located int he Ural Region on the border of Europe and Asia. Here is what happened on Day 4:
We met with the representatives of a Brazilian abrasive machines company, CMV, to discuss their joint-venture project in the Ural region of Russia. The key element of this successful JV is the choice of a reliable partner. Before entering the Russian market, CMV contracted Erwan Henry, international business lecturer, consultant and metal industry expert, to help them find the appropriate channel of penetration. Erwan found Igor, an entrepreneur with experience in warehousing, logistics, and heavy military industries. Since Igor is well known in Russia, CMV had access to his networks and enjoyed his reputation. Only 3 months were necessary to setup the joint-venture. Once the JV was established, CMV started receiving orders for their machines – “like selling hot cakes”. Erwan and Igor stressed on two factors that determine success in the former USSR and that is Supply Chain and Market Intelligence, the former being composed of market research and connections.
In the afternoon, we hosted a conference with several influential business people. The council for the Chamber of Commerce was present, along with the director of the Ural Presidential Program, an academic organization that recruits and trains students to become the academic elite in their fields to prepare to lead local and national companies. This conference was very interesting, we learned that the Ural region in particular was very open to FDI from France, and other European countries. The Chamber of Commerce of the Ural is prepared to help foreign companies will any and all of the bureaucratic processes. As seen with the CMV joint-venture, setting up a business in Russia could be very fast, and sometimes even faster than in France. The country is hungry for growth, and would do anything to speed up this process.
Students from the Ural University were also present at the conference. We has the chance to meet and talk to most of the them. They are studying international Economics but come from various technical backgrounds, such as engineering and math. Thanks to them, we got an inside look on how the youth see the country and what opportunities are present for them and for foreign fresh graduates. Their thoughts are that Russia doesn’t offer exciting opportunities for young graduates, and that they all want to go abroad to find a higher-paying job. The good job positions in Russia require a considerable amount of professional experience and therefore contributes to a brain drain from the country to the West, where the need for technical and business minded young professionals is high.
We ended the day at a Russian restaurant with our new Russian acquaintances. They were very friendly and our interaction changed our perspective on Russia, indicating that most of what we hear in the media falsely portrays the Russian mentality. To learn more, stay tuned for our Russia Trip Report – to be uploaded soon.