Within the framework of the EU-funded Biz4all Social Entrepreneurship Incubator programme, which is implemented by ODB Brussels in partnership with TNU Network University, Natallia Tarasava and a team of enthusiasts from Mahileu have presented their project “ProDobro” (literally translated as “About Kindness”), which aims to open a pet store with a constant showcase of shelter animals to find them a permanent home and a loving family.
Natallia Tarasava got the idea for the project several years ago, when she started to actively help stray animals, all the while working as a chief accountant at a commercial company in Mahileu.
|Natallia Tarasava, author of the "ProDobro" project, photo from personal archive|
"I have a cat at home myself. When she was growing up and did something naughty, I once told her “if you behave badly, you’ll live in the street!” And something made me think then: “Stop. How do they actually live in the street?” I became really interested in this problem and began to look for opportunities to help at least some animals. I found about specialized organizations that help homeless animals, learned about their activities and joined Mahileu Animal Protection Society "Dobroye Serdtse" ("Good Heart") (currently serving as the Head of the Audit Commission). I've been actively helping animals since then: I take them for temporary care, treat them and find families for them.
Natallia Tarasava believes that one of the reasons for why homeless animals exist is people not realizing the responsibility for the fate of their four-legged friends.
“In the course of my work I started seeing that the majority of people have no understanding or awareness of their responsibility for the pet they take into their home. Sure, they have the good intention, but they never think about the life that the animal is going to have. I have to talk and explain a lot to people. When I give the pet away to a new family, I also give them leaflets about the necessary care, veterinary control, the need to sterilize or castrate the animal, and proper nutrition. I can see that people are grateful for this information, they come back with new questions again and again, and ask for advice if necessary.
Natallia Tarasava recalls: "The idea for a project I had for the Biz4all "Social Entrepreneurship Incubator" was to put on a showcase of homeless animals who are ready to move to a new family. I thought: of course, it is much more interesting to come to a place where you can actually see the animals, communicate with them and choose a furry companion right there than just browse through pictures on the web. A stray pet shelter could become such a place, but Mahileu has no animal shelters. Actually, the country in general does not really have enough shelters, unfortunately.”
Despite having the theoretical knowledge, being optimistic and believing into their project "ProDobro" cannot fully realize everything they have envisioned.
"During my time on the course I understood that we need to create a social enterprise and use its profits to help animals (Note: In the EU, many social enterprises work by donating profits to charity). Unfortunately, I do not have a start-up capital to launch my company yet, which is why I am developing a pet match service within the framework of my project.
We run social media pages for the group, Kotoferma Taraskino ("Taraskino Cat Farm"), but it is not enough. I planned to launch a Talaka crowdfunding campaign to create a social promotional video on the topic, but when I estimated the preparation work I’ll have to do, I understood I cannot pull this off. At the moment I’m setting up a website to post tips on how to keep pets and care for them, why stray animals appear in our streets, and much more. At the moment, the project is in my head and on paper, and I am drawing up a business model for the enterprise within the framework of Biz4all "Social Entrepreneurship Incubator" programme. I understand that, even though I cannot fully implement my idea at the moment, I am not going to abandon it, and I am adamant to see it through.
|Natallia Tarasava (on the right) at a Biz4all training “Crowdfunding for social startups”, 23.04.2017, Minsk |
Photo: Alyona Lis
Natallia Tarasava underscores how beneficial was the knowledge she received over the nine-month Biz4all course “Social Entrepreneurship Incubator”, as well as help from her mentor Alina Stankevich.
“Taking part in the project helped me realize that my idea was interesting (I’m basing my judgement on the reviews from project participants and mentors, as well as on the results of a survey I held during the training). The project gave me a lot of information about business models and team structure, as well as about pitching my ideas, and the idea got reworked as the course progressed. Even though at the moment my project cannot be realized, all the knowledge will be applied in future. Our team received enormous help and support from our mentor Alina Stankevich! She took a real interest in our idea, helped us see it from several different perspectives, was instrumental in developing a portrait of our potential customer, she has always supported my project and continues to do so now. I am really grateful to her for participating in the Biz4all “Social Entrepreneurship Incubator project and helping me with my idea! I also cannot help noting that participation in the project has opened my eyes to many interesting ideas that were presented by other participants of the project. And, of course, getting to know the wonderful, most interesting people: project participants and mentors invited to the trainings, as well as the organizers!
Text: Yaraslau Klimasheusky
|The goal of the programme is to develop a package of social entrepreneurship training programmes in Russian using innovative international practices, as well as the experience of Belarusian diaspora representatives who have become successful entrepreneurs in European Union countries and the USA.|
The publication was prepared within the framework of the "Social Entrepreneurship Incubator", implemented by ODB Brussels in partnership with TNU Network University (Netherlands), Belarusian Youth Public Union "New Faces" and International Civil Association "Union of Belarusian of the world “Motherland", with the fiancial support from the European Union.