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"I feel like an Irkutsk, and only then - a cosmopolitan"

Entrepreneur Alexander Sobolev on charity and the role of hunger in creating his own business

Alexander Sobolev 38 years, and in business he has more than 20 of them. In Irkutsk and outside of Angara, Sobolev is known as the creator of the charity fund "Obereg", which gives shelter to people who find themselves in a difficult situation. For the project "Unsuccessful" Alexander told EastRussia why he does not think about moving to another city.

"I feel like an Irkutsk, and only then - a cosmopolitan"
Photo: Maria Chernova
First of all, Alexander apologizes for having to start the interview in a car - there are five children in the Sobolev family: one must be taken away from school, the other taken for a birthday, the third to relatives, and so on. In the end, he used to do several things at the same time - to conduct a meeting with partners during walks, plan gadget trading and play with children.
- In charity, I can say, from the first class: they put me in one school with the students, I brought up all sorts of hooligans, pulled them up in different subjects. Rose in a small village in the north, where there were only two streets - Geological and Geophysical. He was born in Irkutsk, his parents simply left to "build communism" to the north. In the ninth grade he returned, entered the lyceum No.3, then to the State University, then again to the State University, he completed two post-graduate studies. I am an expert in the integrated management of administrative resources. IGU graduated from the Faculty of Social Sciences, was preparing to be a regional specialist, an official. Even worked in the second year in the government of the region. Two weeks. I realized that this was not mine at all. I am an entrepreneur to the core: I always look at how to organize everything so that it works effectively.
Now Alexander is an observer of the public council of the regional Ministry of Social Development, and he does not skimp on criticizing the work of officials.
"In the end, they could not stand it:" Once you understand everything better, you have a state contract on you. " There is such a presidential mandate - before 10% of all social services regions should be transferred to the hands of NGOs. The state contract is received by someone who offers to make the work cheaper. I was eventually allowed to do an Angarsk shelter in the village of Maysk. At that time in the center worked 37 and a half people, and they served 53 homeless people. After I went there, the employees became 16. They receive a salary more, plus benefits, products. And we already accept 78 people. If earlier the whole state allocated 16 million rubles to receive 156 homeless people, but now I accept 200 homeless people (in Angarsk and Irkutsk "Obereg") under this contract and spend only 8 million rubles from the treasury for this. The rest of the homeless are already for my money. And all benefits - I get help from the state budget, the state - saving.
The entrepreneur says that charity for him is the main direction, and not an attachment to business.
“The Ministry of Justice’s website has information: I spend half a million rubles out of my own money for the maintenance of the fund, and they are spent super-economically. Plus, those grants that the state allocates, but their share is still small: in the year before last, their volume amounted to 4% of all fund spending, in the past - already 14%. This year, if we are doing another grant, then the state money somewhere 40% of the costs of the fund will be closed.
Help Center "Obereg" for the Sobolev family began right in the hospital, where Alexander took his wife with the first child. Her neighbor in the ward was crying, but she refused her newborn son.
- Classics: the girl comes from the village, falls in love, becomes pregnant, the guy throws it. After 10 minutes, "Obereg" opened - we took her home. By the way, she quickly found a job, arranged a son in a nursery, rented a room. I know that she later received an apartment from the state, everything is in order. Young mummies in this regard are the most effective object for help - they are quickly organized in life independently, the main thing is to support them at a critical moment.
During the work we saved the state 3 billion 700 million rubles. These are the women who for 18 years have come to our center and as a result did not give the child to the orphanage. Now if a child gets into the orphanage, the state spends on him one 47 thousand a month. Then he builds in the vocational school, buys an apartment for him - a huge load on the budget. In our center we accept mum with difficulties in life, we lead, then we put it into practice when she finds work or a new family arranges. We directly showed us the names of officials - these are the children who did not get to you, - says the entrepreneur.  
According to Alexander, homeless people, unlike mothers, are not thankful. He also helps them, free meals are organized for people, they can spend the night in the center. But the statistics for the whole time of work is that - only 10% of all come will find a job and eventually start a new life.
- In Angarsk, where homeless people are no longer a doss house, but a help center, statistics should be much better, but it is too early to say. There, after being washed-fed, we determine who is in the gerontological center, who is in the hospice, many have psychic diagnoses. On the street, few people will return.
Alexander says that throughout the country there are centers like him, the whole order is 25. This year they won a presidential grant, but "not to eat, but to replicate developments throughout the country." Their experience will come from the centers of Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Tuva and Buryatia. For economic efficiency they are on the first place: 5 employees work for 80 residents. The entrepreneur admits that he did not think about the efficiency of the center, but it turned out that, for example, 1,7 million people leave Moscow a month, and only 14 people live. But there are incomprehensible bookkeepers, personnel officers ...
- In Irkutsk, I especially do not have anyone to talk about on charity. Undoubtedly, the Irkutsk patrons are a lot of positive characters, but when they give up super-expensive cars with a personal driver, and charity will not be translated as a piece, and most of the profits - then Respect. If you earn 10 million and transfer 50 thousand to charity - this is an excuse. Last year, I gave 85% of my income (it will be less) to charity, without pursuing any hidden goals. Not the size, but the percentage of earned value.
- In "Obereg" now not only help young mothers, in general there are 12 directions. For example, I recruit 50 young people who want to do business, I teach them. No, business is not necessarily social, but all of them are obliged to work 10 hours in volunteers in "Obereg". Training is free or for a symbolic one thousand. I'm calling well-known practitioners who can earn money. And the result of our training is not some sort of protection, but their own business. Among our graduates there are already very successful: for example, Nikita Chen Yong Tai, who invented a robot that creates houses. He already has a steady contract with San Francisco, with the Moscow developer PIK is working. I think these people are changing the world.
On the way, we stop at one of Alexander's offices, and it turns out that he never had his own office or even a table.
- As soon as the business oppresses me, I immediately turn it off. Now purely commercial projects I have sixteen, in a variety of industries. Of the largest - "LaserPeople" (sports and entertainment complex with laser tag arena). This is the largest arena in the country, however, business is not the most profitable. "Invest38" - one of the oldest of my companies, is engaged in registration and sale of land. I buy large plots, I bring light, water, make the road, cut into small plots and sell. Now we are launching two large world projects. Here with the Frenchman do "Mozgobum" - developing posters for children. My son does not speak yet, and 50 countries of the world on this poster can show. This he still does not reach the others. "Brain" will go to France and Canada. We already sell in Russia, but not very well yet. There is demand, we must think over the price: three and a half thousand for a poster - this scares the Muscovites with cheapness, but many in the capital buy a VIP-sample for 5 thousand. Another direction is the school of scientific magic "Charlend": 12 animators who teach children in science in a playful form. We blow up, smoke, puff, explain.
Alexander recalls that he has implemented 65 business projects in his life, and until about 35, he proudly said to everyone “I’m such a lucky guy, not a single failure”. And then it began - many projects at the growth stage went into a big minus.
- The first time it was difficult to immediately close, until the last beat. Here recently, again, a million hit: bought 3D-glasses with a backpack, a virtual reality attraction. It turned out to be too expensive equipment, and often it is chopped into chips: the boy puts on his glasses, with the zombies and vampires fights, turns and starts running into the wall. As a result, for 20 days decided to close the business, reformatted employees - now they write game programs for such equipment. Quest for a spaceship, for example. Abroad, it is ready to buy.
Irkutskian is sure that education is very important for the entrepreneur, but, perhaps, not in his classical understanding.

- I personally received a rather weak education, and even on the first year of the university I went to lectures to other universities: at the Siberian Philharmonic Society (East Siberian University), filfak, journalist, the lecturer listened to the lecture constantly.
The need for work was from a youth. Whatever they say, and the real need for money - the main motivation for a businessman. Here is my family - parents, I, a sister with a small nephew - in 90-e lived five in a two-room apartment. Parents-teachers received kopecks, communal payments were not paid for half a year, there was no money, they were having supper-one chicken leg for everyone and potatoes from the garden. And this motivates us most of all to earn money, - stresses Alexander.
During our meeting, he never stops paying attention to his son Alyosha: he answers his questions, and simultaneously tells his story.
- Then, when money appears, you are already entering into a rage. And the course of business depends more on personal qualities, professional experience. Now, to be honest, I can sometimes be lazy, but I have enough knowledge to make a competent management decision.
What qualities are important in business? I would place the ability to plan and achieve the goal in the first place. My children have a special book, where we write down their plans for a year. If he does not know how to read yet, we draw. I'm not a zombie planner, but where I go, I need to know. Is everything being fulfilled, what did you plan? No, in this respect it is not strong, but I will work, - the businessman is sure.
Travel for Alexander - the most important part of his life. This is the only thing he is willing to spend big money for.
"Now I have a shirt for a thousand on me." I do not buy any luxury goods. I sometimes pamper my wife, but she is also quite inert towards this. But what, sometimes, is not enough - for travel. I constantly drive my children, but not so much as to lie down on the beach. We always go to museums, visit local people, meet with volunteers. Yes, we also welcome ourselves - here we now have a guy from France living in the family with whom we do Mozgobum.
The Irkutskian admits that seven years ago he could have long chewed on the topic of how important it is to be a patriot.
- Now I'm not that tolerant to this attitude, I'm patriotism in general harmful quality I think. I like Einstein's phrase about how people frighten people who march and shout "Long live the fatherland!" On different sides of the border, genuinely hating each other.
I have a lot of friends abroad - in France, Italy, America, Israel, Thailand, Cambodia ... Good people, whom I respect. Do I respect any of them more than any drunkard in the Irkutsk village? No, for me, all people on Earth are the same. I am a patriot of my planet.
For himself, Alexander decided that from Irkutsk is unlikely to move: it is more comfortable here, friends, native culture.
- If you ask who I am - first of all Irkutsk, the second - cosmopolitan. Irkutsk, the taiga, Baikal very much. This is directly mine. It breaks me if I do not lie on the grass. I took a walk around Baikal on foot, went around on a boat. But I tell my children, even small ones, that you will decide where you will live.
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