When they talk about socially responsible businesses, they usually mean a kind of additional activity of companies that neutralizes the harm they cause. If a company damages the environment, it builds playgrounds for children. If its products are harmful in themselves, it engages in large-scale philanthropy. Despite this, the correct version of social responsibility is when your projects are designed to benefit society. Andrey Berezin, co-owner and one of the founders of Euroinvest, implements such ideas in repeatedly successful ways.
The social responsibility of business is a phenomenon studied by scientists and economists. There are different ways to understand it; for example, some people consider this phenomenon harmful. In their opinion, the state solves its problems at the expense of business, which means it does not cope with its work.
Others understand social responsibility as a social burden – when successful companies contribute to transforming the communities in which they operate. This is the understanding researchers consider characteristic of Russia. A striking example of this model is Gazprom, which implements numerous social programs, from direct financial charity to the construction of new children’s sports complexes and stadiums.
The third and final option towards social responsibility of business is when a company conforms its activities to ethics and environmental standards and evaluates its impact on society’s well-being. This option has only one disadvantage, and some researchers point out that such an approach to work hurts profits and has nothing to do with the company’s interests. It is evident that, if you do not control the level of hazardous waste and do not install purification systems, you can make a lot more money.
This disadvantage is untenable because a healthy society that lives in favorable conditions creates a much stronger market that can consume more. Accordingly, companies that incorporate a humanitarian mission into their work from the outset have a more significant economic impact in the long run. They build their money and reputation while strengthening society. As the researchers point out, this approach is generally characteristic of large American companies. There are many such companies in Russia, one of which being Euroinvest.
Euroinvest was originally a development company. It has been working in the real estate market for 30 years, and during this time, it has been able to raise the quality of the projects it implements. It started with ordinary residential neighborhoods by European standards. Although it was a significant breakthrough at the time of the launch, the company now offers projects of a completely different class.
Their concept is called 3id. It is assumed that in this approach, the comfort elements are implemented on three levels. Firstly is the apartment itself. Then, it uses all the latest attributes of a smart home, including complete control of utility meters, “smart” home appliances, constant video surveillance, and automatic notification of unplanned events.
The second level of comfort is provided from the house itself. The interior and exterior design involve more than just pretty packaging; each element and each room assumes a precise functionality, creating a multiplicative effect of creating a club or community of interest. The uniqueness of this format is that Euroinvest bets on the entertainment and education of its tenants. This is the main chip of the complex and the main reason to consider this project socially responsible.
The third level of comfort is territory. Everything here was initially designed so that the neighbors had a reason and an opportunity to meet and get to know each other, spend time together in the open space, and participate in the activities of educational clubs.
In the Russian Federation, almost no one works with such a problem of our time as the atomization of society. Each family is a separate unit that has no contact with others. There is no ideology in our country, religion is highly poorly spread, there are no urban activities, there is almost no traditional culture left, and, as a result of the highly turbulent 20th century, there are nearly no threads that weave together and bind society together. The Institute of Good Neighborhood is an excellent tool to bring people back together, if only on the stairway. There are no such projects in Russia. In this respect, Andrei Berezin is a pioneer, perhaps even a pioneer.
The Development of Industrial Splinters
The 20th century in Russia was characterized by highly aggressive industrialization. It is possible to assess the long-term impact of this process on our history in different ways. One fact remains unchanged; almost all of the factories built at that time were made entirely without regard for environmental standards, the natural development of urban spaces, and even trivial logistics. The closed nature of the USSR economy forced it to make exquisite solutions, which in the XXI century were utterly uncompetitive.
Consequently, many industrial buildings in Russia have become abandoned hangars, attracting criminals and marginal societal elements. Individual renovation projects are not saving the situation and are being implemented chiefly only in capital cities. In many cases, the only solution is the demolition and reintegration of the space into the natural urban landscape. An additional bonus is the rehabilitation of enterprises by selling non-core and unprofitable assets.
There are two such projects in the investment pool of Euroinvest. The first one was realized quite a long time ago and is old, abandoned warehouses and hangars of Svetlana. Andrey Berezin bought a controlling stake in the holding, dumped ballast from it, and used the proceeds to launch a program to modernize the company’s technical facilities. The results of this work are another long story, but the main outcome is that Svetlana has doubled its net profit for a year under Berezin’s leadership. Ten years later, it is steadily entering a new market of high-tech medical equipment.
Years later, Euroinvest began selling specific land plots formerly owned by Svetlana. This is Residential Complex ID Svetlanovskiy; it is already being built on the site of abandoned hangars. A vast area of about 150 thousand square meters is returning to the urban environment. It is a great fortune for the residents who previously had to look at the abandoned and dirty premises of the Soviet shards. Without Berezin’s intervention, this place may have remained untouched for decades.
The second project is being implemented on a similar territory of the Rigel plant. Berezin did not take the easy way out, refusing to buy out the abandoned buildings from the plant. He decided to purchase a controlling stake, optimizing the work, and launch an investment program to modernize the industrial facilities of Rigel. Only after that, the businessman embarked on a project to build a residential community on the site of the abandoned hangars.
This is an essential component of social responsibility. There have been thousands of cases all over the country when plants were torn apart into separate pieces that no one wanted, for a short gain. The embodiment of this approach is when fleets of new cars were sliced up for scrap. Berezin shows that it was possible to act differently and, in the long run, to make much more profit by developing the plant to a competitive level.
Projects For Health
At a particular stage of Svetlana’s development, Berezin realized that the holding’s scientific developments had great unrealized potential. This epiphany happened due to the businessman having graduated from Voenmeh with a diploma in engineering. Moreover, he has some scientific publications, postgraduate experience, and patents from his first job. In other words, he knows from inside the whole kitchen of the scientific-industrial industry that Russia inherited a Soviet legacy.
He was well aware that the tools existing within the plant did not allow him to realize the full potential of the latest developments. That is why he and his partner decided to launch Euro Venture, a company specializing in venture investments and manually supporting promising projects. The initial capital was at once quite serious: 10 million euros. This is comparable to one of the stages of Rigel’s investment program, which ended up being implemented several years later.
Euro Venture took on the role of a business angel for employees of PJSC Svetlana. The unique project of the robotic complex for early diagnosis and treatment of oncological diseases was the first to be supported. It allows diagnostics and surgery to remove tumors, simultaneously irradiating damaged tissues. The investment was followed by several years of development and testing of the prototype, which has gone through experts’ fire and brass pipes. After many minor adjustments, it receives only positive feedback.
Currently, the device is planned for installation at the Petrov Oncology Institute. The patent of Svetlana for the unique X-ray tube has passed a long way to become a full-fledged apparatus complex, which will help to treat cancer in the conditions of a shortage of foreign medical equipment. The Euro Venture initiative considered the social component of this project.
Investments in Education
As Andrey Berezin has repeatedly said, it is most important to invest in human capital at this point. Only education will allow us to overcome all the challenges our country faces nowadays. More specifically, we are talking about implementing the import substitution policy, which is an urgent need for Russia today. This is not just advice and reasoning; Euroinvest is actively involved in projects that involve the development of human capital and the education system.
Andrey Berezin explained the direction of the company’s work to try and get others to understand his intentions: “I believe that the most important thing is education because now nothing, but education will be quoted in the world. Have you read the book Technologies of the fourth industrial revolution? It was written by one of the founders of the Davos Forum, Klaus Schwab. What used to matter was a territory, markets, and raw materials. All this is gone and does not mean anything anymore. What matters is the human capital, the intellectual potential of a country. Only what you can invent yourself is valued in the world.”
The most ambitious project was announced quite recently – the construction of a new academy in St. Petersburg. The academy will be focused on the education of future engineers and employees of the domestic scientific and industrial industry. Unfortunately, few entrepreneurs have taken on such a task and responsibility, with the vast majority remaining limited to financial support for individual educational institutions.
Euroinvest has realized the scholarship program to provide encouragement for the best students of Voenmeh (alma mater of Andrey Berezin himself) for a long time. It is named after another famous graduate of the institute, two-time Hero of the Soviet Union, cosmonaut Georgy Mikhailovich Grechko. The company supervises the association of Voenmeh graduates, as well as the World Club of Petersburg.
Striving For a Prosperous Future
The year showed how many businesspeople in Russia do not associate their future with our country. Having earned capital, they tend to go to the West, taking their family and fortune there. Unfortunately, against this backdrop, many responsible businesspeople willing to work for the well-being of their homeland are lost. This is a misleading impression that has a perfectly reasonable explanation.
“When you do alms, do not blow a trumpet before yourself,” reads a biblical principle. However, it is Russia that it has taken root in. More often than not, people have only heard about the projects of the former owner of Magnit, Sergey Galitsky, who created the new look of modern Krasnodar with his projects. However, no one has heard about, for example, the Loga park in the Rostov region, created by entrepreneur Sergey Kushnarenko on the site of a reclaimed landfill. Few people know that the Good Deeds Fund was created by Vagit Alekperov, the main shareholder of Lukoil, and he has already contributed over $40 million in personal funds. Viktor Vekselberg’s company Renova bought the Faberge collection and restored the Shuvalov Palace to create a museum.
Such an approach by businesses in this country is natural, as even foreign researchers note. Due to the unspoken taboo on telling about their good deeds, the image of Russian business as deaf to the needs of society is formed. This often affects the attitude of Russians towards their wealthiest and most successful compatriots.
This practice should be changed fundamentally. This is all the more reason to pay attention to the benefits coming to the native city of these projects, which were implemented by a businessman of his own free will, and which are not always attractive commercial ideas. Andrey Berezin and his Euroinvest is a real example of social responsibility when the development of a company goes hand in hand with the interests of society. The more people that know about this, the more entrepreneurs will follow in his example.
In Russia, the scale of philanthropy grows every year. According to experts, they are already comparable to Great Britain (considering the difference in purchasing power), amounting to about 2.5-3 billion dollars. The table shows Russia’s position in the Global Philanthropy Index. It considers, among other things, the index of social responsibility.