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New opportunities to promote enterprise among young people in southern Russia

In March 2012, Center-invest Bank hosted the signing of a multilateral agreement on cooperation under the Youth Business Russia programme of the International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF).

The IBLF is active in 40 countries, including Russia. This month, the Rostov region became the latest participant in the IBLF’s Youth Business Russia programme, joining the Kaluga, Voronezh and Novosibirsk regions and the Primorsky Krai (

Center-invest Bank has been running a similar business lending programme since summer 2011, the “Start-up” programme, and it regularly provides free advice for young entrepreneurs. In the past six months, Center-invest Bank has lent a total of RUR85m to 70 business start-ups in southern Russia, and experts from the bank have held 43 seminars, attended by more than 300 people.

Thirteen partner organisations signed the agreement, together with Center-invest Bank: the Rostov Region Investment and Enterprise Department and the Committee for Youth Policy, the Rostov Regional Enterprise Support Agency, the department of the State Employment Service for the Rostov Region, the Rostov Region Guarantee Fund (not-for-profit organisation), the Rostov Region Union of Employers, the regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the regional branch of OPORA Russia (which is an organisation that represents SMEs), and a number of southern Russia’s leading higher education institutions (Rostov State Economics University (the National Economy Institute), Don State Technical University, Southern Federal University, the State Technical University of Southern Russia, and the Institute of Management and Law).

Each of the partner organisationshas its own enterprise development programmes. By joining forces under the Youth Business Programme, all of these individual programmes will benefit from the pooling of ideas and resources. This will help ensure that young entrepreneurs in southern Russia canaccess finance and start up successful businesses.

Under the Youth Business Russia programme, entrepreneurs aged 18-35 years can obtain three-year loans without needing to provide security or a guarantee. The maximum loan amount is RUR300,000, and the interest rate is 12% per annum. Loans are made on the basis of business plans that have been examined and approved by a panel of experts.

As well as providing access to loans on preferential terms, theYouth Business Russia programmealso promotes mentoring. In addition to financial assistance, young people are offered guidance from individual mentors, advice on business planning, and business management training. The youth enterprise programme will also draw on the financial support mechanisms of the regional government’s enterprise support programme.

“Mentoring is an important social issue,” says Dr. Vasily Vysokov, chairman of the Board of Directors of Center-invest Bank. “We have many educated young people who cannot find a job simply because all the companies have streamlined their staffing structures. The most sensible thing for a young person to do, as well as getting a degree, is to obtain a business patent.”