VEB.RF Group and Mail.ru Group Launch a Support Program for Small and Medium Business

The first phase of the program provides for launching a support project for entrepreneurs in the Russian Far East and Arctic regions.

VEB.RF Group and Mail.ru Group have launched a support program for small and medium business. The first pilot project under the program is “Razvivai.rf | Business Online” implemented jointly with the Far East and Arctic Region Development Fund (affiliated with VEB.RF Group). The initiative will make it possible for entrepreneurs in the Far East and Arctic Region to redeploy their businesses to the Internet quickly and free of charge. The project has been implemented in VKontakte and the “Razvivai.rf” business marketplace. The FEDF and Mail.ru Group will invest over RUB 230 mln to support SMB in these regions.

It is not a coincidence that the Russian Far East has been selected for the pilot phase of the support program. Together with the Arctic regions, this macroregion has over 500,000 registered small businesses with 1.4 mln jobs. The Far Eastern regions traditionally stand out for high business activity.

During the self-isolation period, online facilities helped many entrepreneurs promote their businesses. The Internet proved to be the only sales channel for some companies. Online platforms can both make it possible for business to recover from the crisis and help expand the market for products and services of smaller companies.

“Razvivai.rf | Business Online” is the project that will enable entrepreneurs to create and launch webpages for their businesses in VKontakte free of charge and provide additional promotion opportunities. They will receive advice at all phases of transition to online, while the business digitalization and promotion costs will be compensated by the project sponsors — VEB, FEDF, and Mail.ru Group.

Participation in “Razvivai.rf | Business Online” is open to all small and medium businesses registered in the Russian Far East and Arctic Region. The only thing an entrepreneur has to do to launch an online business is to register in “Razvivai.rf” and create a webpage in VKontakte. Every entrepreneur will receive up to RUB 53,000 to promote the webpage online. The system will analyze the company’s needs and profile and will advise on the ways to promote business online, for instance, by recommending that online retailers use delivery, cafés create a community of regular guests, and online service providers sell their services directly via an embedded online store.

The geography of sales is not limited: Far Eastern companies may catch customers from anywhere in the world. The facility is integrated with delivery services: an entrepreneur will be able to choose the best option minding the peculiarities of logistics. If necessary, users may ask questions to the help desk 24/7.

“Razvivai.rf | Business Online” is the first project of the joint program implemented by VEB.RF Group and Mail.ru Group to provide the Russian business community with comprehensive support during the economic recovery period.

Igor Shuvalov, Chairman, VEB.RF:

“VEB.RF Group is heavily involved in the anti-crisis program to support Russian business. We pay special attention to the segment of small and medium businesses that are turning into the drivers of economic recovery in the urban areas. It is very important to provide business with an environment conducive to both preservation and growth. We are working in this area by expanding our strategic partnership with Mail.ru Group, in particular, by co-sponsoring the “Razvivai.rf” financial marketplace for business. Our project in the Russian Far East will be the first project under a larger-scale joint support program for entrepreneurs.”

Alexei Chekunkov, CEO, Far East and Arctic Development Fund:

“State-of-the-art online retail technologies make it possible for entrepreneurs to scale up their businesses and enter new markets that they have hardly ever dreamed about before. We see that many businesses in the Far East and Arctic Region are willing to develop in this area but not all of them know how to start. We decided to help them. I am certain that for thousands of smaller companies, the new online platform will be more than just a facility — it will push them to break new ground.”

Boris Dobrodeev, CEO, Mail.ru Group:

“The pandemic and the resulting restrictions proved to be a serious challenge for everybody, and especially, for small business. From the very first days — ever since the world became aware of the threat — we have supported both the users and the business community. The joint program that we are implementing in partnership with VEB.RF, and in particular, the “Razvivai.rf | Business Online” project co-sponsored by the FEDF, will allow us to extend additional support to companies both in the form of resources and technologies and in the form of our business digitalization experience. The crisis has demonstrated that the companies redeploying their businesses to the Internet are able to grow even in turbulent times. We are certain that the new platform will prove to be a convenient and simple solution for online transition of all types of businesses.”

VEB.RF is a public development corporation. It works in partnership with commercial banks and investors to co-sponsor national projects including in the area of the hi-tech industry, non-resource exports, as well as modernization of infrastructure and metropolitan areas. VEB.RF coordinates the efforts of the major national development institutions: Russian Export Center, DOM.RF, SMB Corporation, Far East and Arctic Region Development Fund, and MONOGORODA.RF.

The Far East and Arctic Region Development Fund (affiliated with VEB.RF Group) implements priority investment projects in the macroregion by extending repayable soft financing (at 5% per annum). Besides, as instructed by the Government of the Russian Federation, the Fund develops digital facilities for investors that make the relations between the government and business in various sectors more dynamic and transparent, and supports small and medium business.

Mail.ru Group (MAIL, listed since November 5, 2010) — Russia’s largest holding in terms of daytime audience (Mediascope Web Index Desktop+Mobile, Russia 0+, 12—64 years old, September 2019). Mail.ru Group develops Russia’s leading platform of online communication and entertainment facilities. The company owns the major Russian-language social networks — VKontakte and Odnoklassniki, the leading webmail facility that is among the most frequently visited portals in runet (Mail.ru), and four messengers. Besides, Mail.ru Group owns the MY.GAMES international gaming brand with hundreds of popular games for diverse platforms in its portfolio and with an audience exceeding 540 mln users worldwide. In 2019, the Group launched Mail.ru Group Tech Lab — a division that promotes new technologies. Mail.ru Group is a shareholder of JV AliExpress Russia along with Alibaba Group, Megafon, and RDIF, and a co-sponsor of the O2O catering and transportation platform in partnership with Sberbank.

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