WWF and Citi Foundation expanding small business support
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) of Russia and Citi Foundation announced the continuation of the project aimed to revitalize sustainable business in remote areas of the country. As in past years, the project will be carried out in Altai and Kamchatka. At least 17 new companies are expected to be created in these two regions with the participation of some 140 local residents and entrepreneurs. The project will also help more than 50 companies that had received a financial support in the past years to grow their business. The fund that will allow local residents to obtain small business grants even after the project is completed has been created in Altai in partnership with regional organizations.
'As real incomes continue to decline, the collection and sales of wild plants is becoming a significant source of income for many residents of Kamchatka,” says Sergey Rafanov, head of WWF’s Kamchatka Ecoregional Office. “Analysis of the situation over the period since the beginning of the collecting season suggests that the number of people interested in the collection and sales of wild mushrooms and berries, as well as their derivatives, has increased compared to previous years. A number of small businesses engaged in wild plants processing is growing, while those who has been already operating in Kamchatka for some time are poised to expand production facilities, increase the volume of production and bring more products to the market.”
About 20 years ago, wild plants collection and processing was a major sector of Kamchatka's economy, providing means of living to hundreds of locals in remote settlements. Today, we can once again see locally-made birch juice, berry fruit drinks, salty fern and frozen berries on the shelves of Kamchatka stores. Local producers are confident their products have a number of competitive advantages over the berries and mushrooms imported from China. Kamchatka NTFP Association is planning to run a study on the local market jointly with WWF and evaluate the export potential of Kamchatka’s wild plants.
Altai Republic is a region known for its abundant flora and fauna, but also for the high unemployment rate among the local, mainly rural population. The main goal of the program in Altai is to get the low income rural population involved in economic activities that do not cause damage to the environment, and to deter people from poaching in the habitats of rare and endangered species, especially the snow leopard and Altai Argali.
“Tourism has been booming in the Altai Mountains in the past several years. A region with three hundred thousand people hosts more than a million tourists every summer,” says Natalia Trofimova, head of WWF’s Altai-Sayan branch. “The training courses that WWF and Citi [Foundation] have been running for five years helped 1120 Altai residents learn the basics of business; local arts and crafts industry is growing, so a small but legitimate business is becoming a real alternative to poaching. To date, as many as 187 sustainable eco- and rural tourism businesses are operating successfully and 48 new tourist facilities have been built in the region.”
The next year’s phase of the project will focus on promoting successful examples of ecotourism and arts and crafts business as well as on providing the information about the project to residents of remote villages.
The outcomes of this phase of the project will be presented in Moscow next year. The future plans include promotion of a unique documentary titled “Altai. Reflection of the Mountains”, produced by MAGIC PRODUCTION Studio. The documentary portrays people who gave up poaching and took part in the joint WWF - Citi Foundation project to find their new and productive ways in life.
The joint WWF and Citi Foundation project took off in Altai in 2010. Kamchatka joined the project in 2013.
The goal of the project is to support local residents and low-income communities residing near protected areas and habitats of rare and endangered species. The mini grant system allows those participating in the project to start their own small business based on the sustainable use of the local flora and fauna resources. Being a small business owner, the local residents are likely to take greater care of the natural resources, which become their primary and perfectly legal source of income.
In addition to financial support, a number of seminars with the participation of experts and experienced entrepreneurs are held every year in the framework of the project. These seminars have always been a source of valuable knowledge, especially in the remote villages where the details of the legislation regulating collection of wild plants, ecotourism and arts and crafts industry as well as of the potential business pitfalls are in strong demand.
The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world. We invest in efforts that increase financial inclusion, catalyze job opportunities for youth, and reimagine approaches to building economically vibrant cities. The Citi Foundation’s “More than Philanthropy” approach leverages the enormous expertise of Citi and its people to fulfill our mission and drive thought leadership and innovation. For more information, visit www.citifoundation.com
Citi, the leading global bank, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management. In 2012 Citi celebrated its 200 years anniversary from the moment of corporation’s foundation in 1812 and in 2015 Citi was named the Best Global Bank by Euromoney.
AO Citibank, a fully owned subsidiary of Citi in Russia, was one of the first international banks to enter the Russian market in 1992. Today, Citi is one of the largest and best capitalized banks in the country. It serves institutional and retail customers who have access to the full spectrum of banking services and are provided with integrated and innovative financial solutions. Additional information may be found at www.citibank.ru.
Citi, the leading global bank, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management.
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