UN Sustainable Development Goal

3
Good Health and Well-Being

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user photo Submitted by Aleksandr Norov
Date published: 16 Nov 2017
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What is left When we are gone?

LavkaLavka is a social enterprise aimed to revive agriculture and lost gastronomic traditions in Russia and other countries. It is a farm cooperative which includes an online service designed as a social net to interact with farmers and consumers, as well as a restaurant and retail store network. The project was started in Moscow in the spring of 2009 by three friends: journalist Boris Akimov, IT specialist Alexander Mikhailov and salesman Vasily Palshin. The idea of entrepreneurs was to create a public area for selling environmentally friendly and chemical-free agricultural products which are almost impossible to find in ordinary stores. The key purpose of the project was to connect farmers and consumers directly without any intermediaries. The result was the LavkaLavka online resource where every farmer now can register and offer their products for sale. Before the product appears on the website, it has been checked carefully for the declared standards compliance: seeds, water and fertilizer used, body condition scoring and so on. The company has developed its own environmental certification system (SES) with its main statements including: the abandonment of use of artificial substances as fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, growth regulators, plant infusions and agrotechnical techniques for disease control. At the same time, every consumer has an opportunity to request and obtain full information about the specific product and pictures/descriptions of the farm. It became possible as every product is ordered not from an abstract assortment but from specific farmers and farms. In addition, there is a unique opportunity to visit a farm and watch the production process personally. Thus, the company develops eco-tourism. In 2011 first LavkaLavka restaurants opened in Moscow and St. Petersburg. They are currently specializing in Russian cuisine made from the same environmentally friendly agricultural products. The founders themselves believe that restaurants are primarily focused on those customers who want to eat healthy farm food but for some reason are not willing to order products on LavkaLavka website. The menu traditionally provides details on the origin of all the ingredients used as it is designed with the obligatory consideration of the ethical consumption ideology. For example, a restaurant orders a whole cow rather than several hundred steaks to cook each piece in accordance with gastronomic rules. By 2013 the project has attracted about 4 thousand regular customers and dozens of permanent suppliers. Its monthly turnover has reached 10 million rubles. In the same year the AmBAR business association defined LavkaLavka as one of the brightest and most beautiful social startups in Russia. LavkaLavka restaurants generally receive high praises from the media. Kommersant Weekend gave Moscow restaurant four stars out of five, having noted its relevance under current geopolitical circumstances and perfect fit into the national program of "import substitution". Based on the results of the open voting on the specialized Menu.ru portal LavkaLavka received the "Best Restaurant of 2013" award and won the "Menu from Russian products" nomination. Some foreign media resources such as Euronews and The New York Times also gave a positive feedback to the company. They owed its success mainly to the context of economic sanctions imposed by Western countries against Russia. The company head Boris Akimov supports a different view. He strongly feels that the reasons his project attracted so many followers and fans are more personal. People value the opportunity to make a smart choice based on full and transparent data and the idea of learning the entire process before the actual purchase. Today’s buyer wants to have a clear understanding what he pays for, who eventually gets his money and how this product has affected other parties – producers, environment, community. That is why success of the project is measured not by size of the balance but by the impact made and the social value of the work performed. Boris does not see a dramatic difference between personal and corporate responsibility and admits there is no need to emphasize social orientation of LavkaLavka. Its commitments, as of any actively operating business, are absolutely natural and inherent.