After the breakup of the Soviet Union, Cargill invests in the village of Efremov, building its economy and cultivating a stronger sense of community.
During Russia’s conversion from a centrally planned economy to a market economy, which started in 1991, Cargill proved to be an important business partner to the country, especially in the town of Efremov. Situated about 240 miles southeast of Moscow, Efremov was home to approximately 40,000 residents and Russia’s largest corn milling plant. The rural area saw its economy flailing as the Soviet Union collapsed, so Cargill took a risk and entered the Russian market in 1995, becoming a majority shareholder in the plant. The company improved plant operations and, in doing so, strengthened the community around it.
From the time Cargill arrived in Efremov, the company faced challenges. The plant was unproductive, unprofitable and did not meet internationally recognized safety standards. Also, the town’s youth were migrating to larger cities in search of better employment opportunities. To help bring the facility up to world-class standards, Cargill invested over US $10 million in advanced technologies and updated equipment. Soon, the plant was competing with similar western operations, increasing its grain intake to an impressive 2,600 tons of wheat and corn products per day.
The biggest changes, though, could be seen on the faces of those who called Efremov home. Cargill helped establish The Women’s Club for the plant’s female employees, giving them a place to relax, connect and organize social projects. Next, the company donated time and equipment to renovate local schools, set up scholarships for students, improve neighborhood parks and provide much-needed support to the local hospital’s maternity ward. Cargill helped re-energize the community and transformed the town into a place where people were proud to live and work.
Today, Cargill remains committed to investing in Efremov’s emerging businesses. The company has contributed US $500 million to regularly upgrade the plant, which is now a network of seven state-of-the-art facilities producing a range of products from syrups to feed to chicken nuggets. And with an increasing number of local employees finding fulfillment and job satisfaction, Efremov’s youth are taking notice and seeking prosperous futures in their hometown. Seeing Cargill’s risk pay off, other industries have chosen to locate to the area, further advancing the region’s economy.