Vera Podguzova About Made in Russia Programme
Exporting Russia’s image through quality goods
“It is impossible” was my first thought when I tried to attribute this beautiful and slim lady to her position, which is Managing Director for External Relations and Communication of the Russian Export Centre. Then Vera Podguzova started her speech and I realised that it was still possible. She spoke brilliantly: the speech was informative, Ms. Podguzova demonstrated her deep knowledge of the matter.
When giving the floor to Vera Podguzova at the expert session ‘BRICS: Economic Agenda for Inclusive Growth in the Digitalisation Era’, the moderator stressed that the notion ‘women’s export’ had already appeared thanks to the speaker’s efforts.
Of course, we decided to find out whether that is true in our interview with Ms. Podguzova.
– Of course, there is no formal division of export into men’s and women’s. However, the so-called women’s export is different due to the characteristic features of women’s business. In the first turn, this includes small and medium-sized enterprises that are as a rule focused on providing services and producing goods for an individual. However, there are women who are representatives of extremely large businesses. It sometimes amazes you. For example, we have an exporter company producing fire protection systems. This is a family business led by a mother and a daughter. They started this business in the early 1990s, developed it and reached a level beyond comprehension. Today they export to literally every third country of the world, which is incredible. By the way, they presented their business at the ‘Made in Russia: Export by Women’ exhibition within the Second Eurasian Women’s Forum in Saint Petersburg. However, there are different representatives of women’s export.
The exhibits of ‘Made in Russia: Export by Women’ also included handmade clothes and accessories, confectionery from a chocolate atelier, powder coating equipment, drinks and honey with amber extract, and super-hydrophobic nanocoatings for clothing and footwear.
Some people make fashionable footwear, some focus on orthopaedic footwear for children, some produce jewelry, and some create medical equipment. There are completely different directions but they are all socially-oriented. This is the characteristic feature of women.
– Russia is primarily associated with export of oil and gas. However, taking into account your previous answer, can we say that the situation is changing?
– Of course, one should develop non-energy export. Export offers tremendous opportunities for business, especially for SMEs.
In the first turn, there are completely different markets. One can easily find one’s niche and buyers if one wants. Sometimes goods have such a unique character and high quality that it motivates their producers to export them. People who are not afraid try to enter the foreign markets. Thus, their businesses greatly develop. The international coverage of a business presupposes much more output and new directions of production. Financial income also reaches an entirely new level. The state also benefits from it in terms of taxes, new working places, and development of technologies and territories. Generally speaking, everyone profits.
– What project are you focused on now?
– Made in Russia programme. We started it in 2016. In 2017, we registered a voluntary certification system.
Made in Russia is the quality mark that inspires trust in foreign partners. Products and producers who successfully undergo the voluntary certification, are represented in the interactive catalogue at madeinrussia.com.
This is a convenient platform of Russian export goods. There importers can find detailed information about them in 8 languages (Russian, English, German, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Hindi, and Persian). Russia produces a broad range of high quality goods. Our clients include machinery companies alongside with producers of ice cream, children’s clothes, hi-tech equipment, and software. We are ready to promote Russian goods and services in the external market and offer exporters over 100 financial and non-financial support tools.
We have two tasks: search of customers abroad and development of Made in Russia umbrella brand, thanks to which we want to tell the whole world about how much branches of production and what producers we have.
High quality goods form the image of the countries they were produced in. It concerns Italy, Germany, USA, and any other country that actively exports its products. That is extremely important.
– Do you mean that we are no longer associated with balalaikas, vodka, and bears?
– I can’t say that our activity has left a deep trace abroad. Too little time has passed. The Russian Export Centre was established in 2015. It started operating in 2016. If we focus on marketing and continue to do so, we will indeed achieve significant results. We need governmental support of programmes promoting our goods through the proper channels with the help of proper partners and friends we are finding here at the women’s forum.
– You can also find partners on our web portal. What would you like to tell them?
– Trading through e-commerce platforms is one of the simplest and fastest ways to start export activity.
That is especially relevant for companies planning to trade in Asia because local consumers actively use search systems, social media, and marketing tools.
Considering the fact that China is one of the most promising directions in e-commerce, the Russian Export Centre cooperates with the biggest figures of Chinese e-commerce market for promotion of Russian goods.
We have signed a treaty about cooperation with Alibaba Group. Thanks to it, Russian pavilions started functioning at the biggest Chinese e-commerce platforms Tmall.com and Tmall.hk. They also launched a joint project with Alibaba Group, within which the most promising Russian goods were selected. Those goods will be bought by Chinese company, transferred to warehouses in China, and then sold through online infrastructure. Food and cosmetics are sellout hits.
In 2018, we started developing sub-brands within the Made in Russia movement. In particular, the green brand of the Good Food Russia AIC has been launched. It united Russian producers of high-quality and ecofriendly food that is potentially the most interesting for foreign consumers.
– How do you help Russian businesspersons enter the international market?
– The Russian Export Centre supports exporters and actively works in regions helping find clients and partners, enter the international market, realise marketing strategies, and gain necessary knowledge in the sphere of export activity. The Centre creates the most favourable conditions by developing new programmes, initiatives, and special systems of subsidisation of entrepreneurs exporters’ costs.
For SME sector, we offer a range of special products such as insuring credits for replenishment of turnaround means of exporters.
Our analytic unit has a lot of capabilities. Specialists will make an individual report on sales of certain goods in the world or in particular countries. Our experts are ready to form a list of potential partners in the target market with explanation of their choice, consult during negotiating process until the conclusion of export contract, and provide participation in the international exhibitions, tenders, and business missions. That is only a minor portion of all available options. Besides, the work of our Centre’s educational project for beginning exporters Schools of Export is related to supporting SMEs. That project covers all aspects of export activity.
Since 2016, over 8000 people have gained certificates of undergoing export seminars and almost 9000 people have listened to online programme courses.
The consistent work for increasing the number of new vendors of Russian competitive products is needed. That is why we focused our attention on active involvement of SMEs representatives to export activity. That sector of economy has a huge potential for growth of non-energy export.
– What would you wish to all women?
– Firstly, I would like to wish women’s happiness and self-realisation in family. However, that is indeed not enough. You should realise yourself as a person too. The main thing is to find yourself and find the activity interesting for you. No matter whom you will become: kindergarten teacher, CEO of the company dealing with fire systems, engineer or police officer.
When you find the activity that suits you most, you achieve success in it. You will get the maximum pleasure and bring the maximum use. Women can do it because they are the fans of their activities.
Tatyana Vorozhtsova, news agency of the Eurasian Women’s Community
P.S. In accordance with the Presidential Decree, non-energy export must increase up to $250 billion in the next few years. It amounted to $57.2 billion in January-June 2017. Having seen who and how deals with it, we don’t doubt that everything will go well.
We believe in Vera.
Translated by Yan Zarubin