The ending of the self-isolation regime, which resulted in a recession in the economy, is not only the resumption of work of existing enterprises, but also the creation of new structures. The  Union of Business and Cultural Cooperation “Volga-Rhine” is one of the projects whose activities, according to its president Konstantin Maskevich, can be successful, including because the economy requires new forms of work in business.

What difficulties do you see on the path of successful development of Russian business?

The main problem of our small and medium-sized businesses is that it is built on the principle of “catch and run” - when a businessman wants to grab and run, snatch quickly. If you just want to earn money to buy an expensive car or not a two-story, but a four-story cottage, then this is not a business, there is no social benefit, and there will be no prospect. By and large, business and companies in the world do not exist for making money, making money is not the main thing, but first of all for helping people in a specific field, for solving their problems, meeting their needs. As soon as we forget about it, the business disappears. If we remember the high mission of the business, then success comes to us. Microsoft has become a textbook example. Having designated their mission “a computer to every home” many years ago, they essentially fulfilled it. They did not set a goal to earn billions of dollars, their goal was to benefit people.

So business is about values?

Absolutely. Only value-oriented businesses have a future. What are the prospects for “roguish little firms” (this is a quote from Putin)? Focusing on values ​​at the same time provides a planning horizon for many years to come.

Leave the cafe in Germany and walk along the street - you will see signs with company names - these companies are 100, 150, 180 years old - and there are many such signs. We, too, need to learn how to work for the future, and then for the sake of momentary benefits you cannot sacrifice the values ​​of the company. You will think about the future and build a business for centuries.

Why did the choice fall on Germany?

Germany is the most developed country in terms of technology and organization of production. If you take foreign experience - you need to take from an advanced country. This is the first reason. The second reason, or better said, the premise is historical and cultural proximity. Every tenth German is Russian-speaking. And how many German surnames are there in our country, and all these people are our compatriots. Russia is a huge market for Germany, which they value. At the same time, Germany and Europe are a market for our hydrocarbons.

There are practically no local products on the domestic market, quarantine has shown that we are pretty much dependent on supplies of products from abroad. Should it be tied to a foreign power if, under any cataclysm, connections between countries can stop?

The modern world economy is cooperation and division of labor. It  happened to be so and it will continue to be so. We are hydrocarbons now, the Germans are technology, the Chinese are hands. Yes, we do not have the most honorable place in this division - the place of the supplier of raw materials, in part this can be called colonial dependence - a little rude, but for sure. We can work to ensure that our function in the global division of labor is changed to something more technologically advanced, but separation cannot be avoided as such - no country is capable of doing everything. Even the States do a lot in China: each iPhone has 70% of world labor, and only 30% is purely American. Let's look for ways of cooperation, and then no one can close the borders. In the long run, the one who is more open wins.

You do a lot to partner German companies and ours. Don’t you have the fear that the German partners will be disappointed when faced with the harsh reality of low productivity and production culture, an insufficient level of quality?

Do not underestimate our industry, we have many enterprises with a decent level of production culture and product quality. But it would be wrong to overestimate our level as well. If we do nothing, close ourself from external influences, and not adopt new technologies, we will not budge. We must learn quality, exchange employees, travel and not deny international experience. Only in cooperation can we achieve quality improvement.

So you mean, our enterprises still have the potential to enter the European market?

There is potential, and the moment is very favorable. China has become toxic for a while, and now European companies are ready to place new production not in China. It would be nice not to miss this chance. The main thing is that we could offer something specific to our foreign partners.

And how can our enterprises convey their proposals to potential partners in Europe?

The Volga-Rhine Union cooperates with the networks of the CCI of European countries. Foreign colleagues drew our attention to the fact that, in the presence of specific proposals for cooperation from our enterprises, they are ready to help them in finding partners in the profile, through the CCI of their regions. This help is free for our businesses. In the countries of the European Union there are many organizations whose employees receive their salaries for the work aimed so that as many contacts and projects as possible take place, so that trade relations develop, joint ventures appear. For its part, the Volga-Rhine Union is ready to provide support in communication with these organizations. To do this, simply contact the Union, provide general information about the enterprise and describe the essence of the request: do you want to find a representative in Germany or, on the contrary, are ready to be a representative of a German company here, do you want to buy goods or equipment, or, conversely, supply, are looking for investor or partner for a joint business?

Since the 90s, we have created a huge number of joint ventures: with Germany and with America ... But now we have not heard about them. What did you rely on in your calculations when creating the Union?

Joint ventures that survived the 1990s have now grown into joint-stock companies with foreign shareholders. We have many such enterprises. This is a good kind of business. When there are foreign partners among shareholders, they bring their technologies, management style, understanding of processes. Such a business is booming. However, I would like to note that the Volga-Rhine Union is a non-profit organization. The Union’s goal, based on the experience that its members have, is to help the businessmen of Chuvashia and the Volga region as a whole change their approach to their business taking into account world experience.

In order to function, and even just maintain relations with foreign partners, financing is needed. How are you going to earn money if your company is non-profit?

The daily expenses for the maintenance of the office are borne by the founders. We do not set the task to earn and recoup costs in the coming years. However, if we talk about financing in general, in my experience, money is always available for a good, well-developed project. In fact, there is finance in the country. If you ask for a loan from a bank, they will gladly give you, but only for a good idea and a good justification for the project. Our shortage is not of finance, but of ideas and projects. We very much hope that in the course of interaction between our Russian and foreign partners and with our active assistance, such projects will appear.