Russian President Vladimir Putin has instructed the government to find a way to include the Russians to 18 years of age in the list of entrepreneurs. Today it is almost impossible for underage Russians to run a business, and special grants and patents have to remedy the situation.
By February 1, 2020, the government in cooperation with the Agency for Strategic Initiatives (ASI) is to develop a set of proposals for how to create conditions for Russians young than 18 years of age to take the step into entrepreneurship and high technology. A relevant proposal was made by Vladimir Putin following the results of a meeting of the ASI supervisory board. The list of instructions based on the results of the conference was published on the website of the Kremlin. According to the list, “the Government of the Russian Federation with the assistance of the Agency for Strategic Initiatives... to present proposals for creating conditions for citizens of the Russian Federation under the age of 18 to conduct a business, obtain patents in the field of high-tech solutions, as well as to receive grants.” Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was placed in charge of the assignment. Ivan Kapustyansky, a leading analyst at Forex Optimum, recalled in an interview with Wek that today it is allowed to do business as of the age of 16. At this age, one can be registered as an individual entrepreneur. However, in the current reality, entrepreneurs do not even reach the minimum age, so they face difficulties in doing business. At the same time, these entrepreneurs have access only to limited government subsidy programs and a number of other support programs. The legalization of young entrepreneurs is reasonable and completely stands in line with Putin’s discourse about the digitalization of the economy and the development of the IT-sector in Russia. The emergence of a significant number of such entrepreneurs in the information sphere may motivate other young people to start their own businesses and also to promote business among young people. Irina Korotkova, General Director of Inconsult K, commented in her interview to Wek, the President's instruction was absolutely logical, as the generally accepted understanding of “simple business” and science-intensive high-tech business is different. “A plenty of pseudo-educational entities are actively imposing a cliché “do something, run advertising in social networks and become a millionaire the next day” on young people who want to become entrepreneurs,” Korotkova said. It is a way of thinking from the 1990s that aims to make naive people pay up quite impressive checks for training and coaching sessions. Creating conditions for high-tech entrepreneurship is a priority task that will motivate young people not just to create an Internet-platform for selling perfumes, for example, or other goods but also to develop themselves in an intellectual business aimed at providing highly technologized services or manufacturing technology-intensive goods. Korotkova is confident that it is necessary to use the competences of both scientific and educational communities and successful entrepreneurial projects that have already been implemented “from scratch” in the high-tech field. “First of all, in Russia, these are the projects related to biotechnologies and various medical services. Simultaneously, it would make much sense to adopt the experience of state programs successfully implemented in the sphere of co-financing the scientific projects for business. First of all, I mean government decree № 218 of 2010, which made it possible to sell high-tech products worth more than 640 billion rubles,” Korotkova said. Yakov Livshits, the founder of XCritical IT-company and DevEducation international IT-college, told Wek the exact measures to be taken would be determined by the officials entrusted with the task. Chances are it might be tax benefits and incubation conditions. Livshits believes this idea would be more than reasonable. In all countries that have achieved breakthroughs in digital technologies, such conditions and the special incubation environment have been set up. Given Russia’s huge potential of human resources in this particular field, this issue is very topical here. People from Russia have always been leaders in many areas of computer and Internet development. According to Livshits, there are no flaws in the president’s appeal unless all the conditions turn into “cosmetic measures” or some corruption schemes crop up. If everything really works, the tax benefits will be substantial, the incubators will stimulating, and a digital breakthrough might be expected then. The most important thing for Russia is that a breakthrough of this kind (if it does happen) will not end up in a situation where some project is fostered in Russia but moves to the West with its entire team upon scoring success. However, in order to prevent it, comfortable conditions will have to be created for business in general but not for particular people. Teachers also hail the president’s decision. Rosa Sargisyan, the founder of My Sadik private kindergarten network and the Give The Good To Children primary school, told Wek that the new generation is very active especially in terms of modern technologies. “Let alone high school students, even if my eight years old son, for example, who got a smartphone a month ago, tells me about some of its functions, which I did not even know about (it had been my phone for two years).” “I agree that students should be supported and encouraged to drive progress. But as for entrepreneurship, a question arises. Engaging in business requires specific knowledge and life experience, after all. How does a school student expect to develop his own business at this age? And the main question is why a child or teenager should burden himself with such obligations that even the smallest entrepreneur comes to face with? What they can do without any doubt is to patent inventions, but, for example, as assistance to the state with deferred income," says Sargisyan. Sargsyan adds that self-interest appears at an older age, and a teenager, of course, will be proud to develop something for the state or some big company. At this age, they are keen on a certain idea, but after 18 they might be financially interested. When they are still underage, there are parents and guardians by their side and they often interfere and spoil everything because of the money. However, until the age of adulthood, business should still be carried out under the supervision of parents or guardians, as responsibility fully vested in adolescents may lead to various frauds, adds Maria Shakhova, the founder and head of q PR-agency. Simultaneously, it is necessary to limit the area of operations to the intellectual sphere. In this way, the state will encourage the young generations to develop complex and knowledge-intensive industries. Meanwhile, Pavel Sigal, first vice-president of the Opora Rossii non-governmental organization, draws attention to the fact that today only few employers are ready to hire an adolescent. In accordance with the law, he or she can work no longer than seven hours a day depending on the age -- for those who are from 16 to 18 years old -- and no more than five hours for younger teenagers. A lot of paperwork and strict compliance with safety standards are necessary, too. Most commonly, young people are only trusted with unskilled jobs. In some regions, there are more advanced programs for the employment of minors -- they can work at plants, factories or agricultural enterprises in the summertime. But most often they are engaged in urban landscaping. Even this kind of work is very difficult to find, and wages are not high there. Along with it, the number of young people willing to help their families, to earn their first money and experience is growing every year. Sigal is confident that their potential is not confined to working in the areas that adjoin their homes. Many teenagers have strong knowledge of up-to-date technologies, and they could bring in a creative approach to the development of enterprises and to engage in high-tech and entrepreneurial activities. Students will receive necessary skills and will be able to choose professions for their future, getting career guidance in real time.