The authorities of St. Petersburg, Russia has launched one of the most important projects 10 years ago, the goal of which was to create the most comfortable urban environment for the development of medium and small businesses in the region. The Unified Entrepreneurship Center was created to address this ambitious task. CHIC ICON partners up with the Center to bring up more International ambitious projects to live and to help to promote young entrepreneurs from St.Petersburg, Russia locally and Internationally.
Our today’s guest Lev Kuznetsov has started to manage it in 2018. During this time, the work of the Center has changed dramatically: the Unified Portal of Entrepreneurs of St. Petersburg was launched, which became a laureate of the Golden Site Prize in the nomination “Support for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses in Russia” and received the Expert of the Year 2018 Award from the Expert North- West, the list of educational courses for entrepreneurs was expanded, live broadcasts of educational seminars were launched, the number of entrepreneurs using the portal increased from 4 000 to 60 000, and the Center accounts in social networks occupy a leading position in Russia among government agencies in terms of coverage of publications on the topics of business. One of the priority projects of the Unified Entrepreneurship Center is to actively develop the Fashion Industry Center.
We had a pleasure to talk with the director of the Unified Entrepreneurship Center, Lev Kuznetsov about his work and plans for the near future.
Tell us about your professional and personal journey?
I consider as my main achievement my contribution to the promotion of St. Petersburg on the International level, which has led to an increase in the tourist flow to the city.
I have been working in the structure of the city government since 2008. I’ve been organizing events at the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg, providing informational support to guests of the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi in 2014, the Ice Hockey World Championship in 2016 in St. Petersburg, FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 in St. Petersburg. I also took a part in preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in St. Petersburg. I was engaged in projects to attract International business events to St. Petersburg and to bring St. Petersburg to the TOP tourist destinations in Europe and in the world.
Do you collaborate with International organizations in The Unified Entrepreneurship Center?
We actively work with the largest and leading International associations and organizations in the field of entrepreneurship development. This allows us to keep our finger on the pulse of what is happening and not only introduce modern approaches in the activities of the center, but also broadcast new experience to our entrepreneurs, especially in priority projects for St. Petersburg. For example, in the Fashion industry. Within the framework of our center the Fashion Industry Center was created three years ago, which works in several key areas: education in the fashion industry, including exchange of experience with leading Italian designers, creation of a knowledge base for the industry and implementation of the project “Made in St. Petersburg”.
We have achieved notable results in this direction. You can already find a big database and a portfolio of key local designers, sewing enterprises, industry news and other useful content on our website.
Are there any bright International brands among them?
It will take me long time to name everyone. For example, there are such giants as the fashion house Tatiana Parfenova, which is one of the most popular brands in St. Petersburg both in Russia and abroad. Another resident of our Center is a young St. Petersburg’s designer Roman Sharuk. At one time, he became the winner of our Fashion-Practice accelerator competition among designers for the title of “Best Fashion Designer” and a participant in an educational business course for new designers. Now Roman is successfully cooperating with the Clothia online store (San Francisco, USA) and the Art-Piter showroom.
You cooperate with many fashion brands in St. Petersburg. How do you assess the current state of the fashion industry and its development in the coming years?
Yes, these are difficult times for all the entrepreneurs. The difficult epidemiological situation in the world has led to tectonic shifts: consumer behavior has changed, costs have decreased and the usual sales patterns have become a thing of the past, which has already led to the shutdown of a number of manufacturing companies and, as a result, to a drop in sales. It is obvious that in 2020 the number of companies engaged in the fashion and light industry will fall dramatically compared to the last year. Indicators of the volume of production output will also decline. Unfortunately, this is reality. But I know for sure that our center and the government of St. Petersburg will do our best to support this industry.
What are your plans for the next 5 years for the development of the Unified Entrepreneurship Center?
We have very ambitious plans. St. Petersburg is the second largest city in Russia and we intend to do everything to create the best infrastructure for the development of small and medium-sized businesses, increasing the number of individual entrepreneurs and self-employed. To be closer to entrepreneurs, the Center has changed its location and now our experts are working in the Petrogradsky District in the Lenpoligrafmash Technopark. We are also working on the opening of a Design Center which, in the future, will become a center of consolidation and co-working for talented and creative entrepreneurs of the Northern capital of Russia.
How would you describe the partnership with CHIC ICON?
CHIC ICON is our new strategic partner, I’m glad that more and more powerful International companies are interested in local entrepreneurs and talented fashion designers. I’m sure that we will create a fruitful collaboration! We are developing a few projects together which will bring our partnership to another level.
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