PwC and the NAFI Analytical Center conducted the second wave of a large-scale study of the opinions of Russian entrepreneurs (the first measurement was carried out in 2018)*. The purpose of the study is to find out how entrepreneurs assess the state of the Russian economy, the prospects for doing business, how well they are aware of current trends in the business environment.
Most entrepreneurs believe that Russians have a positive attitude towards entrepreneurial activity as such, but business representatives are less trusted.
Among the key problems that impede doing business, Russian entrepreneurs, as they did three years ago, single out high taxes, a shortage of personnel and administrative barriers.
The majority of business owners and managers rely on government support to overcome economic difficulties during the pandemic, and 32% of companies have already taken advantage of state support programs in 2021.
58% of entrepreneurs are not aware of the ESG principles, which imply the introduction of the best environmental, management and social practices into business processes. 16% comply with all or part of these principles now, another 12% plan to do so in the future.
Economic climate assessment
74% of company executives note the important role of small and medium-sized businesses in the development of the Russian economy. At the same time, the share of entrepreneurs who say that this role is not just important, but decisive, increased by 6 p.p. compared to 2018 (from 32% to 38%).
As part of the study, respondents were asked to rate each of the problems that hinder doing business in Russia on a scale from 1 - “does not interfere at all” to 5 - “very much interferes”. The list of main barriers to business has not changed significantly over the past 3 years. Entrepreneurs still note high taxes, a shortage of qualified personnel and administrative barriers.
Executives and business owners cite challenges related to the overall economic situation in Russia, which has become more difficult due to the pandemic. Thus, about 40% believe that the restrictions and inspections associated with the pandemic, as well as unfair competition, greatly complicate business development.
Slightly more often than in 2018, top managers of companies began to say that they are hindered by excessive taxation and a lack of qualified personnel.
Assessment of the level of state intervention in the economy
The degree of state intervention in the economy, many owners and business leaders consider adequate situation. 37% of top managers say that state intervention in the economy does not exceed acceptable limits and is in line with the tasks facing the country. Compared to the previous wave of measurements, this share remained virtually unchanged (38% in 2018). Every fourth respondent (24%) considers state intervention in the economy insufficient.
Demand for state support measures
Most CEOs and business owners are looking to government support to get through the economic hardships of the pandemic. Thus, according to 42% of respondents, an increase in government support measures in general will contribute to the recovery of their business after the pandemic. In turn, 41% of respondents would like the state to focus its attention on stimulating consumer activity of the population. Another 34% emphasized the importance of lifting restrictions and reducing the number of business inspections.
The most demanded measures of state support on the part of managers and owners of medium-sized businesses. They spoke about each of the listed measures more often than representatives of other business segments.
In 2021, about a third of companies (32%) were able to receive government assistance. Most of them did not encounter difficulties in the process of obtaining state support.
Attitude towards business in society
An important player that determines the conditions for doing business is society. 70% of the entrepreneurs surveyed believe that Russians have a positive attitude towards entrepreneurial activity as such. According to their assessments, in terms of public confidence in business, the situation is not so favorable, although here, too, a positive trend is emerging compared to 2018. The share of those who believe that the level of public trust in entrepreneurs is high increased by 7% compared to the last wave of measurements (from 27% to 34%). The share of those who assess this level as low decreased by 11%.
There is also a positive trend in assessing the level of trust of business representatives to each other: the share of those who negatively assess the relationship between representatives of the business community decreased by 7% compared to 2018. And 41% of respondents believe that the trust of Russian entrepreneurs in each other is at a high level.
Compliance with ESG principles
Following ESG standards is a global trend for business. In Russia, interest in ESG principles is still the prerogative of large companies. Thus, 50% of top managers of large businesses have an idea of them, compared to 33% of managers and owners of small and medium-sized businesses.
Reality in this case “determines consciousness”: only 14% of respondents from among those aware of ESG principles (or 6% of all interviewed entrepreneurs) note that it is important for their business relations to take into account best practices in the areas of ecology, social policy and management . 78% of managers who are aware of the principles of ESG (31% of all interviewed entrepreneurs) say that at the moment their compliance is not an important factor for continuing cooperation with partners, investors and creditors.
Almost every third participant in the study (30%) who is aware of the principles of ESG (or 12% in terms of all interviewed entrepreneurs) does not comply with them in their practice, but plans to do so in the future. 41% of those aware of the ESG principles (16% of all entrepreneurs) comply with all or part of these principles.