Beyond the News

A MitOst Blog

Berlin mayor Michael Müller meets social entrepreneurs in Moscow

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Event summary by Peter Correll
Photos: Yuriy Fokin

During his first three-day visit to Moscow in mid-March, the governing mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller, wanted to refresh municipal ties with the twin city Moscow, but also explicitly wished to get in touch with civil society. On request of his office, MitOst and Impact Hub Moscow organised a Round Table with social start-up’s to which social entrepreneurs, politicians, independent experts as well as representatives of foundations and cooperations found their way. 

Michael Müller (below with moderator Zoya Lukyanova, MitOst) was keen to know more about social entrepreneurship in Russia. He asked about business models, their impact and transferability to the Berlin context.The afternoon’s perfect couple: Anastasia Gulyavina (middle), programme director of Impact Hub Moscow, and Nele Kapretz (on the right), managing director of Impact Hub Berlin, are probably the best example for how important these kind of events can be on a networking level. Anastasia showed her colleague around, they thoroughly exchanged opinions and instantly shared new ideas (or, with the wonderful words of the official Berlin Impact Hub PR: they let their “ideas have sex”). Future cooperations are to be expected!Afternoon’s darling: Gusel Sanzhapova (Social Impact Award winner in 2016) has probably gotten used to it – judging from her nonchalant, self-confidental presentation. Again people were crazy about her and her wonderful business story. Coming from the Ural countryside, she once was fed up with the poverty and hopelessness in her village. So she started producing organic honey, employing the local babushkas – thus giving them the chance to earn good salaries and be useful again. Now the village is revitalized and Moscow’s hipsters have turned honey crazy!
The afternoon’s surprise guest: Apparently, the Russian business establishment is opening up to fresh ideas and social values. Rustam Zakiev (below), head of communications and social projects at RUSAL, a big aluminium processing enterprise, is one of the faces of this new development. He stressed that when it comes to social responsibility, Russian companies start shifting from charity to a more sustainable approach – like supporting social entrepreneurs directly. One of their methods: pro bono – which means that they send their employees to NGOs or social businesses in order to offer free advice and expertise.The afternoon’s secret star: the food. Don’t you just love a business that is not only social but also tasty? According to the day’s topic the social entrepreneurs of LavkaLavka took care of the catering. Fresh, regional, organic food – and oh so Russian.After the discussion, which Müller ended by stating the importance of social start-up’s for the future collaboration of Moscow and Berlin and mentioning the planned Campus for Social Innovation at “Tempelhof Field” Berlin, he patiently shook hands, posed with groups and smiled for selfies until everybody in the room got his share of “Berlin mayor.”

The author of this article Peter Correll, Annegret Wulff and Zoya Lukyanova from MitOst with Michael Müller.


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