The entrepreneur Zurab Yermilov told NI about the difficulties that are faced by the representatives of small businesses that are trying to get the state assistance promised by the President of the Russian Federation.
- I have been in business for 18 years. I was engaged in different areas, different projects. Among others, there is one production that has been operating during all these years. This is a small workshop forging and casting. For me it is more of a hobby and the realization of a love of art. Nevertheless, we managed to enter our top five best companies in our segment, and today we are one of the oldest in our field.
The products of our masters were exhibited at an exhibition in Paris, in the Louvre in 2004, and in other countries.
There were many interesting orders. For example, from the public - the gate on Tversky Boulevard 9, near MMOMA. In the Eliseevsky shop, all forged parts are also our work.
In general, it is a microenterprise with a turnover of 10 to 20 million rubles per year, in which 5 to 15 people work depending on the number of orders.
- How are things in the workshop today?
- Until the end of summer, we have orders. But, given the fact that many construction projects are being frozen, demand will obviously fall, it is difficult to talk about the prospects. Although this is not the first crisis that we are experiencing. I think not the last.
- Can you survive without the help of the state? There is something to pay salaries?
- In April and May we will finish work on current orders, we will fulfill our obligations to our customers and pay salaries. Further depends not only on us. We have now sent a letter to the tax with a request to grant a deferment, installment plan or cancellation of payment of arrears for all taxes, advance payments and insurance premiums paid in 2020, before taking all packages of measures to support the Russian economy and business to those affected by the current situation in the world. We are convinced that the removal of the remaining money in the form of taxes will bury most of the business in the country. If this is not done, later you will have to spend more money from the budget on social payments to citizens of the Russian Federation who are left without work.
The whole world and Russia support its population, economy and business. Considering the measures announced by the President of the Russian Federation and instructions to the Government of the Russian Federation, we are waiting for the prompt adoption of the necessary decisions from the Government of the Russian Federation, and the actual implementation of the already adopted packages of measures. If money can’t be given out, they will stop taking it in the form of taxes. A business can no less effectively use the money to support the economy and overcome the crisis. We do not need help, we need to not be disturbed and stopped choking.
- Before the pandemic, did you plan to develop a business related to art forging or were you involved in other areas?
- About a year and a half ago, we opened a small enterprise in the Moscow region. Investments for the entire period were more than a million dollars. This is a factory for the production of ready-made dishes, which we freeze and sell to companies that provide meals to our employees. But our “freezing” is fundamentally different from the generally accepted one. This is a promising direction not only for Russia, but also for the whole world. We will help to solve the global problem of Globalgoals, set by the UN for 2015 - 2030. It is about reducing the number of hungry people in the world.
- It sounds promising and unlikely. Hundreds of thousands of enterprises in the world produce frozen food. What is your know-how?
- We have developed a new technology that is not found anywhere in the world. It is about preserving organic products without changing the structure, taste, color, volume and smell. This is not quite freezing. After processing the products using our technology, the water contained in them does not crystallize, but turns into amorphous ice. We have already filled out an application for residency at the Skolkovo Information Center. I can say with full responsibility that our production is unique not only in Russia, but also in the world. The technology was invented by a scientist-technologist, the leader of our team.
We tested different ideas, different forms. Conducted research. And they made products - ready meals. They were bought by companies that feed their employees at the workplace.
While the production is small, 25 people work. Salary is piece-rate, up to quarantine it ranged from 50 to 100 thousand rubles a month.
“Have you suspended your activity now?”
- During the quarantine period, we have to reconfigure our workshops. Many companies do not work now, so they do not need lunch for employees. Therefore, we need to rebuild production in order to do retail. But without working capital it is almost impossible. We need working capital to begin production of equipment for which there are already orders in the domestic market. The next step, we hope to produce the same equipment for import. We are interested in this. If we do not get a market in Russia, we will have to leave and open production abroad. Unfortunately, this is not a rare startup development option. But I will be very disappointed, I want it when you have unique developments so that they are in demand at home.
- Where did you apply for a loan?
- We turned to the state-owned SME Bank, which serves small and medium-sized enterprises. So far they have applied for salary money, but since 2019 was a loss for us, they were refused. And how can you be immediately profitable? You first invest money, then you work it out. A lot of time was spent searching for clients and concluding contracts. As a result, 2019 was unprofitable for us. Under the terms of obtaining a soft loan, the company must be profitable.
- How complicated is the procedure for obtaining a loan? Can I contact the bank online?
- You can contact the bank both online and offline. In order to make it easier, I found a bank agent who takes care of all the tasks of preparing documents and applying for a loan. It’s easier, you don’t have to deal with all the paperwork. This service is paid, but paid according to the result. The agent didn’t work for us.
- Have you received a written refusal?
- No. We still hope that the decision of the Ministry of Industry and Trade on industry support will be released. So far, we have received an explanation of the refusal through the agent, but we hope that we will repeat the appeal with other criteria that we expect from the relevant ministry. It is not yet clear whether we can apply for a loan for working capital, for modernization or in any other way. We belong to the food industry, which is recognized as the most affected, so we did not seek to receive an official refusal. The first pancake is lumpy, but we hope that the Ministry of Industry and Trade will be able to provide assistance.
- How much did you expect to receive from the bank?
- As much as they give - 20 thousand per employee. Now any money is not superfluous. But it turned out to be very difficult. As far as I know, they approve a loan to a very small percentage of those who applied for help. Among my friends, entrepreneurs, I do not know anyone who was able to get this money.
Unfortunately, public organizations that feed on state money, which must now support and protect the business, are doing something “on paper”, but in fact we see that there is no real help. Therefore, you have to take everything on yourself. If officials are delaying the decision, why don't we delay the payment of taxes to the budget from which they get paid?