Where – Tomsk, Siberia, Russia
When – we met on 21st September 2014. Valeriy first got involved in environmental issues in 2011 when he found Let’s Do It World Russia (Musora Bolshe Net, more here) on the internet and contacted Denis Stark.
Who – Valeriy Koshelev, a social entrepreneur, founder of Eco-store Russia (organicstore.ru), director of World of My Dream
– After finding Musora Bolshe Net and Denis, he subsequently managed to get a grant to organise a clean up in Tomsk in 2012. Around 1000 people got involved including many companies and their employees. They are having another clean up next weekend.
– Valeriy is the director of a fund which seeks to improve the lives of Tomsk residents, funded originally by a businessman, Roman Kazakhoff, who partnered with Valeriy. Initiatives have included the organisation of free morning exercises (like the boot camps currently popular in the UK), classes for school children about leading healthy lifestyles, providing support to residents of apartment blocks to improve their own environment by putting in money and collectively painting, buying plants etc.
– Now, Valeriy has improved his abilities at making grant applications, has received project management training from the government and in 2013 set up an online shop for natural cosmetics
– He is now turning his attention to a new social project – selling local farmers products and setting up a centre for other start ups like his to share space, in much the same way as many social enterprise hubs in the UK now exist.
Valeriy has a strong interest in sustainable development and in the values of Buddhism, and not harming other living things. As a result he wants to make sure his work to minimising negative impacts.
– Like most social entrepreneurs there is a lot of trial and error – all of the original projects through the fund have ended due to a lack of interest, or not having sufficient money.
– It has not reduced Valeriy’s zest for positive impact – onto the next big idea!
Find out more – organicstore.ru
Personal reflections –
It was fantastic to see such enthusiasm and excitement for creating positive impact, in a place which, on the surface, seems like it might not even have heard of a concept like sustainable development (I say that based on the associations with the nuclear power plant and problems there – and being in the middle of Siberia). Thanks to people like Valeriy it most certainly has, and with efforts like his, this can only increase over time.
I have also been so touched by Valeriy’s generosity during our visit. I contacted him via email on recommendation by Denis from Musora Bolshe Net, and just based on that he met us at the station on arrival to take us to the hostel, arranged a translator to make sure we could understand everything (even though his English is definitely good enough to make himself understood!), asked Sergey to come for lunch so I could meet him, took us to an eco-village, and basically did everything in his power to make sure we got the most out of being there!