Amway has played an important role in encouraging Russian women to embrace their entrepreneurial spirit.
One of those women is Evgeniya Poliyanina from the region of Bryansk, about 235 miles southwest of Moscow. She cooked up her business idea in her kitchen making lip balm and facial washes. Her decision to market and sell her cosmetics didn’t happen until she won a contest through the Amway Mompreneurs program.
Efforts like Mompreneur and the Amway Global Entrepreneurship Report are some of the ways Amway makes entrepreneurship more accessible to anyone. Rich DeVos and Jay Van Andel founded Amway nearly 60 years ago to give everyone an opportunity to own their own businesses.
Evgeniya, a young mother of a 5-year-old, helped her husband with his small business of making wooden trays, but it wasn’t the same as starting her own business.
“I would definitely recommend it 100 percent because my business wouldn’t actually have taken off if it wasn’t for this program. This program not only educates, but gives you confidence because you are with other people who have great ideas,” Evgeniya said through a translator. (Video 12:30)
She invested some of her prize money in classes to learn more about creating formulas for creams and lotions.
Free intensive training
Amway Russia launched the Mompreneur program in 2013 through its Amway Charity Foundation to help female entrepreneurs launch their own businesses. Along with grants, the program provides free intensive training on developing a business plan, from budgeting to marketing.
The Mompreneur training culminates with a pitch competition before a panel of judges, who select winners based on the business plan’s economic validity, originality and social significance.
Winners receive a grant of 200,000 rubles, equivalent to about $3,200, to support their business startup.
“Mompreneur helps not only to support the development of small businesses and self-employment, but it also has the powerful social effects of stability and self-realization for young enterprising women who wish to successfully combine career and family,” says Anna Soshinskaya, president of the Amway Charity Foundation. (https://www.amwayglobal.com/ager/amway-russia-female-business-ownership/)
Family support is important
Alena Barsukova, a mother of seven children, between the ages of 1 to 20, says she wouldn’t have taken part in the program without the encouragement of her family.
“When I was accepted, we had to really consider whether I really wanted to do this because five days of intensive training away from the family was a big deal for us. My husband and the family agreed this was something I should be doing,” Alena said through a translator. (Video 3:19)
Like u-pick fruit farms, Alena’s business idea was to open the family’s chicken hatchery to customers who could come pick their own eggs, which — depending on the chicken — could be white, brown or even blue.
The business — located in Krasnoyarsk, a city on the Yenisei River in Siberia — is about giving people the experience of being on a farm, she says.
Alena used the majority of her prize money on materials and plans for more cages, which her 20-year-old son is building.
She said her children are very excited about the business and help, adding she thinks they might eventually take it over. Right now, the business is open only during the summertime because the facility isn’t winterized.
Expands to 58 cities
Mompreneur originated in four cities in Russia, but has since expanded to 58 cities and operates in partnership with government and industry organizations, including Russia’s largest association of small and mid-sized businesses.
The success of the Mompreneur program supports the findings of the Amway Global Entrepreneurship Report. One perceived obstacle for potential entrepreneurs is raising money to start a business. Less than 40 percent of those surveyed reported they knew how to raise money for a business idea.
Last year, Russia’s Amway Charity Foundation reported on the success of the popular program at the prestigious 2017 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). Attended by business leaders, the forum addresses key economic challenges faced by Russia, emerging markets, and the world.
Focused on the theme of women’s entrepreneurship, the conference showcased best practices aimed at supporting women’s economic rights and opportunities.
“Mompreneur has proved robust and useful, and showed that young women are willing to go into business,” Ruslan Gainetdinov, Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Corporation for the Development of Business, said at the time.