The future of the "hidden champions" of Russian entrepreneurship was discussed at the Gaidar Forum

On January 18, within the framework of the Gaidar Forum - 2018 "Russia and the World: Goals and Values", an expert discussion was held on the "DNA of the Hidden Champions". The meeting was opened by Andrei Sharonov, president of the Moscow School of Management Skolkovo, who moderated the discussion. He explained the concept of "hidden champions", introduced by Herman Simon in the mid-1980s. According to the moderator, "hidden champions" are companies that are winners in an exclusive niche and thus secured positions in their homeland and easily master new markets.

Valery Fyodorov, General Director of VCIOM (Russian Public Opinion Research Center) Valery Fedorov presented the results of the study, which characterizes the attitude of Russian citizens to business and entrepreneurs. The main business strategies, according to the survey, are bureaucracy, administrative barrier and pressure.

Also among the main business problems, Valery Fedorov noted the lack of seed capital, high taxes, high competition, corruption, high interest on loans. Despite the difficulties and mistrust of the society towards the profession of entrepreneur, 60% of respondents would choose a career as a businessperson for their children. "The prestige of the entrepreneur in our society is very high. I believe this is both profitable and statusful. People are ready to consider it as desirable for their children", concluded Valery Fyodorov.

Andrei Movchan, director of the program "Economic Policy" of the Carnegie Moscow Center, touched upon the subject of low confidence in the entrepreneurial profession. "Confidence in society is low not only to entrepreneurship, but to all system entities," said the expert.

Speaking about the historical impact on the image of the Russian entrepreneur, Professor NRU HSE, Sergei Medvedev said that the image of a modern businessperson in the eyes of most Russians is based on the example of Russian classical literature. According to the expert, typical Russian entrepreneurs are Chichikov and Ostap Bender, who are essentially fraudsters. Hence, there is a distrust of Russians to the business community. Also, Sergei Medvedev raised the issue of Russian entrepreneurship: "Such redistributive institutions are formed with the huge role of the state, with the minimization of individual initiative and the maximization of rental behavior, which actually reject the type of entrepreneurial activity on which Western, North European capitalism stands, which later turned into a American and became the prototype of global capitalism", the expert said.

Frank Schauff, General Director of the Association of European Businesses, said that it's wrong to look only at big business in the search for "hidden champions". In support of his words, he cited examples of small and medium-sized enterprises from Germany that succeeded in the world market, and added: "Hidden Champions" - innovative small or medium-sized companies - play an important social role and a huge role in the economies of their countries. " The expert also noted that we should not expect rapid modernization of Russian business. According to Frank Schauff, this is a long and labour-intensive process.

General Director and founder of the publishing house Clever Alexander Alperovich noted that for successful work in the foreign market one should not try to "bend their line": "We must understand that there are cultural peculiarities, try to penetrate this atmosphere and do as they do." "The main quality of the entrepreneur is optimism," Alexander Alperovich reminded. General Director of SPLAT Eugene Demin agreed with the businessman. He added that in addition to optimism Russian businessmen need to change the way of planning. "The difficulty is that we are accustomed to planning from the past," the expert thinks, instead of setting goals and understanding where we want to be, and then just understanding how fast we should move towards this goal".

According to the Vice-president of the Skolkovo Foundation Kirill Kaem, for successful development of entrepreneurship it is necessary to facilitate access to the market of innovative business by the state. "In addition to financial support, I think it is also necessary to support the formation of public opinion," added Kirill Kaеm. According to the expert, the image of an entrepreneur in mass media is mostly negative, and the development of business in Russia needs more positive examples.

Answering the question about what should be a businessperson and what the DNA of the so-called hidden champion consists of, Elena Bondarenko, director of the "Practice for Directors" program at the Moscow School of Management "Skolkovo", said that there are no universal entrepreneurs, all are unique. "The most important basic issue is thinking, because the key barrier we face is how we understand business and how we understand the future," the expert added.

The organizers include the Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA), the Gaidar Institute for Economic Policy (Gaidar Institute) and the Association of Innovative Regions of Russia (AIRR).

The program outline is available at the forum website.

Participation is free; preliminary registration is required.

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The general partners of the Gaidar Forum are Gazprom and Gazprombank; strategic partners include Novartis, Johnson&Johnson, RZD, MSD, AstraZeneca, the ACIG Group of Companies, Mastercard, Coca-Cola, Russian Agricultural Bank, Pharmstandard JSC, Microsoft; O1 Group, Unilever, EY, Russian Brewers’ Union, Russian Direct Investment Fund are partners and RVC.

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