Women entrepreneurship in Russia and how IT- innovations changed public views
I was thinking a lot about how to write this post. And finally I decided to tell the world about the real people and real projects. As there is much information on modernization in theory, but only a few cases given in practice. Theoretical words and approaches in general doesn’t lead to progress unless they could lead to some changes in ourselves and in our business strategies.
I started working when I was 13, because I had always wanted to do my thing and live a full life. Most companies where I used to work, had about 60% of women among its employees. Maybe you are not aware of Russian staticts that states that there are 4 women on 1 men in our country, especially in such “historically women specializations” as accounting marketing, PR, advertising and others.
But it is always challenging for a woman to enter a business sector that isn’t conventional to her. I personally develop Gov 2.0: collect civic startups, learn about world experience and projects. It’s not a surprise for me that in the eyes of offices I often considered as a young blondie that speaks about innovations and knows about foreign achievements in eGov field. But I won’t argue that that it much easier to work and achieve results in IT-industry.
In 2008 when the crisis happened a lot women were fired, because they carried out minor positions, f.e. it wasn’t efficient to leave 3 PR-managers for one company. That led to the fact that people, most of which were women, from different parts of Russia were not able to find a job, some of them became mothers at that time. As a result in 2010 a substantial number of women in regions with high qualifications in PR, marketing, finance and accounting were out of work.
I’m often asked: what is the attitude towards women entrepreneurs in Russia? Can they be considered as a separate niche? Based on my professional background as I’ve done lots of offline and online projects, I could admit that IT can be considered as the most liberal activities for women entrepreneurship development. And during «perestroika» period all large-scale and medium businesses became under men’s control and power, so it’s obvious that under such conditions women could deal only with small business. That’s good news, as Startup Women Forum speaker, Elena Ischeeva, former journalist and co-founder of successful bank service banki.ru at the present time said: “IT-projects are so perfect for us, women, because the success of this or that project depends mainly not on the fact that you possess a plant or industry that you got during «perestroika», but rather on the idea and your team. A lot of women used to work and work in HR that means that we’re able to find right people.”
My way of thinking is simple and straightforward: there is no point to sit still and do nothing in any part of Russia and wait until the government helps you, because you could it by yourself. In addition, IT- startup isn’t always about technology, it is more about strategic marketing, PR and reasonable distribution of investments. And one more important factor that you can’t leave behind is that you should have a good nose. It’s impossible to make innovation only in terms of business-plans and calculations, about 70-80% of success depends on the sixth sense.
Recent year has indicated that the largest startup cases that are well-known at the market have been organized and directed by women. Let’s take Elena Maslova as an example, Darberry founder – that is Groupon.ru copy that was able to sell her project to Groupon after six months and Elena is only 24 years old. And what about Anna Znamenskaya, that is a young mother and a former CEO of one the popular video hosting Russian service Ivi.ru, that works according to the principle: do everything you can and do it thoughtfully.
One of my favorite examples is Nastya Severina , 24 young pretty woman that has been working in charity for several years. Last year there was a terrible time in Russia, due to strong forest fires people died, lots of other left homeless. Nastya and Grisha Asmolov helped many people to survive by creating extremely necessary and successful project russian-fires.ru. Nowadays Nastya attempts to renovate and contribute help to the most neglected Russian cities Kizel. Lately I’ve decided to organize a fund on social entrepreneurship development in Russia and offered Nastya to be an executive director of this upcoming project.
Another favorite example is Maria Kosenkova, co-founder of our biggest project — StartupWomen, for which sake she left the company – the largest distributor of computer games on Russian market. You ask: why? Because one of the biggest advantages of modernization policy is the fact due to the low financial threshold women aren’t afraid of joining or becoming the co-founder of business. Especially in IT-business. One more fantastic example is Anastasiya Uryasheva that designed AskDroid startup, she was the one who was invited into one of the most famous accelerator in the Valley.
And finally my personal example: my devoted colleague and assistant Maria Podlesnova that also left a large holding company in order to work on the project Startup Afisha – the largest platform for start — uppers in Russia: all startup communities of the country, information about available positions, workplaces in different cities for IT-projects and more options are now accessible on this resource.
Actually I could speak about women and their role in web-environment fordays and nights. Because whatever example I take it could prove that as for a woman nowadays it’s not neccessary to choose between family and work, children and personal fulfillment, because you could combine it. And I’m very proud and glad of the trend that more and more women are involved in designing IT-startups.
There are general myths about Russia: bears, vodka, caviar and beautiful Russian women that as Russian poet Nekrasov said “would stop a running horse and rush in a burning house”. And the last one is definitely true. That’s why I think it’s time for women to take an advantage and to create something outstanding within virtual planet. I won’t say that everything is great and there are no obstacles and challenges, however, we have a solid foundation for women startups growth.