Founder: Gennady Frank
For many years, the lack of special government support programmes and other measures addressing career guidance, education and employment for orphanage graduates has been an important issue. After graduation, these young people find themselves in extremely difficult situations, with no support from relatives, no jobs or vital skills to live on, and, as a matter of fact, no choice in their lives.
Mr Gennady Frank, the founder of the Shanyrak social enterprise, is himself an orphanage graduate, who studied at a vocational college in Samara and later at the West Kazakhstan State University to become a qualified law professional. In 2010, Gennady registered as an individual entrepreneur and started his first business on the premises of an orphanage in Uralsk. This led to the establishment of the Nur public association (the West Kazakhstan Union of Orphanage and Boarding Schools Graduates) in 2013 and the Shanyrak social enterprise in 2014.
Shanyrak is a social organisation that helps orphanage graduates with employability issues as well as provides them with career opportunities as entrepreneurs. Shanyrak defines its mission as creating a platform for orphanage and boarding school graduates to help them realise their potential. Today Shanyrak is engaged in manufacturing, training, recruitment, and other services.
Shanyrak’s training centre provides career guidance and consists of the Entrepreneur School and Vocational Training School for certain skilled trades. The Entrepreneur School was established to support business projects of orphanage graduates. They attend a one-year course, get assistance in developing a business plan, and receive initial funding for their projects. Vocational training is provided at Shanyrak’s own production facilities.
Shanyrak owns a recruitment company (named “Labour Market”) that provides employment assistance for graduates after they take practical training and work at the enterprise to obtain professional experience. Some of these young people stay and get full-time jobs at Shanyrak.
The enterprise makes profit with its blacksmith, welding, car bodywork repair, sewing, and cleaning services. Its sewing factory manufactures soft leatherette-made playhouses and playground equipment for children, work-wear, textile products, and so on. It also provides car interior re-covering services. Shanyrak’s recruitment company also serves the commercial sector. The Entrepreneur School and the Vocational Training School are both financed from Shanyrak’s budget.
By today, Shanyrak’s non-profitable activities have been transferred to the Nur association, which was in line with the association’s mission. By doing so, the enterprise reduced its workload and focused on its profitable businesses, making the structure and operations of Shanyrak and the association more effective. This proved to be a successful model of collaboration between the enterprise and the association. The latter is responsible for fundraising and addressing social needs, and the former generates business profit to finance the association’s operations and social programmes. It is remarkable that until recently the association’s budget was 50 percent funded by Shanyrak and 50 percent with grants, but in mid-2016, Shanyrak started to provide 100 percent financing of the association’s operations. Of course, the association will continue to compete for grants but this type of funding is now seen not as a critical part of its budget but rather as an opportunity to expand further the operations of both the association and the enterprise.
Over the years of its existence, Shanyrak has evolved into a fully operational and profitable social organisation that has trained 92 orphanage graduates and found jobs for 39 of them via its recruitment company. A total of 38 graduates attended the Vocational Training School, seven became individual entrepreneurs, and thirteen stayed to work at the enterprise.
Today Shanyrak has a clear development plan that aims at making it a sustainable social enterprise. For instance, its sewing factory has been certified to comply with toy quality and manufacturing standards.
Gennady Frank thinks that there are numerous opportunities for a social entrepreneur. He says, the most important thing in being profitable and competitive when running an organisation that helps solve the problems faced by socially vulnerable groups is to do business exactly the same way as any other company does when striving for true success. When becoming a social entrepreneur, you should bear in mind that just as in any other business, you will face problems and challenges and no excuses will be accepted by state regulators, competitors or clients. But you will definitely feel good about yourself because you are doing good for others.