Business opportunities in Kandalaksha

I’ve set up this category, Business, for the benefit of those asking me about setting up a business in Russia.

This is a town of freaking 40 thousand, yet it has

  • no bookstore
  • no used car lot
  • no antique shop
  • no flea market
  • no greengrocer
  • no health food store
  • etc. etc. etc.

It is surrounded by woods full of berries and mushrooms, and these are intensely harvested, sold to wholesalers, and shipped hundreds of miles south for processing. No processing is done locally.

It has scores of hunters but no gun shop.

And local situation with auto repairs is beyond bad and is worth a separate story. See elsewhere under Businss.

But don’t rush to sell your house and come here. There is a reason why business niches remain open. Over-regulation beyond anything imaginable, low-quality or nonexistent workforce, and generally undeveloped infrastructure are among the reasons why most ideas won’t make it to reality. Investigation of the business scene is among the most valuable services I can offer to a Klondike seeker. The answer will more than disappoint you. Still, it is better to spend three thousand for a thorough investigation and report (a quick and somewhat dirty oveview of the situation can cost much less) than sink 30 into a project doomed from the beginning. See Services.


The ugliest night in a long time. Late fall 50% off on all my services.

Rain, melting snow, and wind – we were treated to the classic late fall weather last night. The ugliest it has been in a long time. Most definitely this is not the time of year to travel to Kandalaksha.

But I make a living off you travellers, thus the late fall special on all of my services in an effort to entice you here: 50% off, or $12.50/hour and I’m yours to act as a guide, driver or translator.

Or, if you have business here but can’t attend the place in person, I can be your errand boy. Information gathering of any sort, people and grave searches, press reviews, whatever. It’s like having your feet and eyes and hands, and even a part of your brain here.

Garbage sorting said to be implemented in the north of the Kola Peninsula; south is next

Once in a while I receive a question about business/investment opportunities in Russia. Yesterday I got a tip from one of my Pasvik Nature Reserve acquaintances to the effect that long-talked-about garbage sorting and civilized processing has at last been implemented in Murmansk, and that South Kola (Kandalaksha, Apatity, Umba) is next, and the authorities are looking for an investor into this project.

Previous attempts to deal with garbage in a better way than hauling it all to the dump and just leaving it there to rot have somehow not taken off in Kandalaksha, although the dump itself is a picturesque place if you have a taste for that sort of things.

Personally, I am fascinated by garbage and will welcome a request to look further into the situation with trash collection and processing.

Garbage sorting line to be installed at the Kandalaksha dump

garbageI’ve overheard a report to the effect that the local authorities in charge of garbage collection and disposal have acquired a garbage-sorting line and are about to install it at the local dump.

But no, there is no hint at introducing separation at the garbage dumpster stage to be done by the residents.

New laws making garbage sorting a requirement have apparently been introduced. Lots of $$ are waiting for someone who’ll come here with the knowledge and technology to accomplish this.

Big shots’ meeting on tourism development in the region

meeting-Russia-FinlandKandalaksha leaders and those of Finnish municipalities that border with Russia have met last week to discuss joint projects, including setting up a major snowmobile route across Norway, Sweden,Finland, and Russia. Another project discussed was expanding the capacity of the transportation network of the Murmansk region and including it into the trans-European road system.

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Kandalaksha Aluminum Smelter planning to cut production

aluminum-smelterThere are persistent rumours that the aluminum smelter, one of the pillars of local economy, is about to cut production by 200 th. tons per year in December 2015.

(A strange figure given that the plant’s output is no more than 70 th. tons per year.)

The reason is said to be low price for aluminum that dropped to $1600USA, or 27%, since the beginning of 2015, which makes producing aluminum a losing business to half of the industry’s facilities.

For details see

The Purple Robes Workshop went partly bilingual

purple-robesI’m glad to report that the Purple Robes Workshop specializing in traditional clothing and church garments started doubling many of its materials in English on their Facebook page. Click on “more” to see the English version.

The shop is one of the few establishments that appear to do quite well despite the shrinking economy, and may deserve a close look if you need an example of a successful niche business.

It may be a good time to invest into Russia

buy-low-sell-highWhile the rouble dropped almost twice compared to $$ in the course of the year, overall level of prices in roubles rose by I’d say 20%. That made buying in Russia much more attractive from the dollar holder’s point of view. If you are looking for business opportunities, the rouble cost of two main expense components – labour and real estate – has not risen at all, which makes them in effect half as cheap as they were before the change of equation brought about by the Ukrainian crisis. Plus the market offers much more choice than only a year ago. Let me use this opportunity to urge those still playing with the idea of investing into Russia to consider doing so now. On the assumption that we are not heading toward a total disaster of the irreversible sort – a scenario that makes all and any considerations irrelavant – and political tremour subsides in the foreseeable future, now it may be a good time to start the Russian project you’ve been thinking of.

Take a look at The Moscow Times article Foreign Investment in Russian Commercial Property Hits 7-Year High. Big guys appear to be taking advantage of the price slump.

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Another book: Nature and Natural Resources of the Murmansk Region

natural-resources-of-murmanskAbout 500 photos from 30 Murmansk region photographers. Photos from hard-to-access places on the shores of White and Barents sea, along the Ponoy River, on the Rybachy Peninsula etc. Photos of unique natural phenomena (aurora borealis and others), rare plants and animals, mineralogical monuments, culturalnd historic sites (labyrinths, Saami seids, stone carvings of Kanozero and paintings of the Rybachy Peninsula), and also photos of the Kola Peninsula from space.


natural-resources-of-murmansk-2The text was written by the members of the Kola Center of Nature Preservation. Well-known scientists and regional history experts acted as consultants in the course of developing the text.

Extensive illustrated material does not simply describe natural objects but helps in understanding northern ecosystems. The book shows just how succeptible to human influence northern nature is, calling to reader’s attention to the significance of many phenomena often left unnoticed.

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Auto service

Land Rover is one of the most environmentally friendly cars you can find. It puts the oil back in the earth.

The situation with auto repair here sucks big. As an owner of an old British jeep designed to test owner’s patience and to keep the repair industry afloat I find myself in an intense and prolonged predicament here.

No, I cannot recommend a specific garage or a service center. If your car is down, feel free to ask, and I just may be able to issue some constructive advice. With some luck you’ll leave Kandalaksha under your own steam but no, this town may have its share of artists and literati (see eg. but no auto mechanics in numbers anywhere near enough to look after a population of 40 thousand with at least one decaying car per household.

I should add opening a proper list repair shop to the list of business niches screaming to be filled. Done. Here is a new category that I’ll call Business scene. There I’ll list opportunities screaming to be filled.

The closest place where you can realistically get your car fixed is Murmansk, and here is a summary of what I’ve been told or dug up about the auto repair scene there.