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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

USAID Entrepreneur Programs Open to Help Russian Business

VOLKHOV, Leningrad Region -- Small business in Russia's northwest received a boost this week with the opening of two training centers designed to serve as national models for business support programs.

Supported by a grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development, the $2 million Volkhov International Business Incubator and Training Center is designed to provide local entrepreneurs with a range of support services under one roof -- including office space and round-the-clock security.

"We will support small and medium businesses because they provide jobs, pay us taxes, and if they are closed down, we are finished," said Volkhov Mayor Nonna Volchkova, who made the project one of her priorities in her drive to revive the local economy.

Both the incubator center and a Business Education Center that opened in Pushkin will provide venues for aspiring entrepreneurs to gain practical knowledge about starting a business.

Two clients, a bakery and a cafe, have already signed leases at the incubator center, and another eight can be housed in the 1,800-square-meter building. Sixty percent of the building will be set aside for female-led businesses.

In addition, the center will help tenants and other entrepreneurs from the Volkhov region with consulting, training in preparing business plans, English classes, tax consultation and assistance with marketing and accounting. Computers, photocopiers, fax machines, e-mail access and audio-visual equipment are also available.

The Business Education Center in Pushkin, funded by a $200,000 USAID grant, combines a 13-week training course with a fully operational self-serve laundromat in which aspiring entrepreneurs can receive hands-on experience in opening and running a small business of their own, with an emphasis on customer service.