Andrey Dashin: "The business world has a crucial role in giving back to society"

Andrey Dashin, Founder of Exinity Group & The Andrey and Julia Dashin’s Foundation, talks to CBN about the importance of philanthropy and relays the story behind the creation of his foundation along with wife Julia, which started off in Russia and moved to Cyprus in 2014, where it has carried on its remarkable work – centring around social inclusion, healthcare, education, and environmental stewardship – initiating as well as supporting countless efforts aimed at “providing support where it's most needed”. He discusses the importance of businesses giving back to their community, while, as a prominent businessman, he also describes what it is like to do business in Cyprus and tells us what he thinks about the local fintech industry.

Tell us about the Andrey and Julia Dashin Foundation. What prompted you and your wife to establish the foundation?

Andrey and Julia Dashin's Foundation was born from a deep-rooted desire to make a substantial and meaningful difference in the lives of those in need, particularly children and vulnerable communities. My wife, Julia, and I were inspired to establish the foundation during our time in Kazan, Russia, where we initiated our philanthropic journey by supporting a local orphanage. This act of kindness laid the groundwork for our enduring commitment to charity, which we carried to Cyprus. This vibrant community has become our home and the central hub of our foundation's activities.

The decision to formalise our efforts into a foundation in 2014 was driven by a vision to expand our impact and reach more individuals through structured and sustainable initiatives. Our foundation's mission centres around social inclusion, healthcare, education, and environmental stewardship, reflecting our belief that every individual deserves a chance to live a dignified, fulfilled life. We aimed to create a platform that addresses immediate needs and fosters long-term development and empowerment.

From the beginning, our motivation has been clear: to contribute to the communities we are part of by providing support where it's most needed and engaging in partnerships that amplify our impact. This foundational belief in kindness, support, and community engagement continues to guide our efforts today.

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How has the charity helped children and other causes in Cyprus?

Over the past decade, the Andrey and Julia Dashin Foundation has been instrumental in advancing a wide range of initiatives to improve children's lives and support various social causes across Cyprus.

One of our foundational goals is to assist children, especially those with special needs, by ensuring they receive the support necessary for their development and integration into society. Our initiatives have included funding therapies and educational programs and sponsoring events like the Andrey & Julia Dashin Foundation Youth Race, part of the OPAP Limassol Marathon. This event alone has inspired over a thousand young participants annually, promoting physical health and sportsmanship among the youth.

Education is another significant area of our focus. We have supported projects such as the "Alice Discovers" literacy program with Little Odysseus, which has particularly benefited special units at schools in Limassol to provide these children with the ultimate learning experience in an inclusive environment. This program employs a holistic approach and aims to support children through art, literature, and the implementation of growth mindset theories, which are crucial for personal and academic success.

Additionally, our foundation has responded to healthcare needs by collaborating with organisations like the Cyprus Anti-Cancer Society, Hope for Children” CRC Policy Center, and SPAVO (Association for the Prevention and Handling of Violence in the Family), enhancing their services and broadening the reach of their support. We have also organised 'back to school' campaigns that equip children from underprivileged backgrounds with the necessary supplies to start their school year confidently.

Beyond children's welfare, our commitment extends to the broader community. We've engaged in environmental initiatives, such as local clean-ups and tree-planting events, contributing to ecosystem restoration and community resilience. Our involvement in cultural and arts projects also enriches community life and fosters a greater appreciation of the arts among residents.

Through these varied initiatives, we aim to build a more inclusive, healthy, and educated community, reflecting our belief in the transformative power of philanthropy and active civic engagement.

You are a well-known philanthropist who cares about the community, evidenced by your charity. Why is this so important to you?

For me, philanthropy is not just about giving back to the community; it's a fundamental expression of our shared humanity and a way to foster a more equitable society. The importance of community care and philanthropy stems from my belief that we all have a responsibility to contribute to the well-being of others, particularly those less fortunate. This sense of duty is deeply personal and rooted in my own experiences and values.

Growing up and witnessing disparities in opportunities and resources made it clear to me how impactful thoughtful support can be. It has always been important to me that everyone should have access to the necessities of life and opportunities to thrive. My wife, Julia, and I have been fortunate enough to be in a position where we can make a difference, and we believe it is our moral imperative to do so.

Engaging in philanthropy also brings a profound sense of fulfilment and purpose. Seeing tangible improvements in people's lives as a result of our foundation's work is incredibly rewarding. Whether supporting children's education, providing healthcare, or enhancing social welfare, each initiative offers a chance to create a positive, lasting impact.

Moreover, philanthropy is essential for fostering community cohesion and resilience. By addressing social issues and supporting cultural and environmental projects, we solve immediate problems and build stronger, more connected communities. These efforts ensure everyone feels valued and included regardless of background or abilities.

My commitment to philanthropy is driven by a vision of a more compassionate world where everyone has the support they need to succeed. It's about building bridges, healing divides, and empowering individuals and communities to realise their potential. This is why the work of the Andrey and Julia Dashin Foundation is so crucial to me—it embodies our hopes for a better future and our dedication to making it a reality.

How important is it for the business world to give back to society?

I firmly believe that the business world has a crucial role in giving back to society. It's a moral obligation and a critical factor in building sustainable and thriving communities. When businesses invest in their communities, they essentially invest in their own future. This ethos should be at the heart of every business strategy, as the benefits are manifold and significant.

Firstly, corporate social responsibility (CSR) enhances a company’s reputation and strengthens its brand. Consumers today are increasingly conscious of companies' ethical practices from which they buy products or services. A company actively involved in philanthropic activities tends to be viewed more favourably, which can lead to increased customer loyalty and trust.

Moreover, community support initiatives can improve employee morale and create a more motivated workforce. Employees often feel greater pride and commitment when they know they are working for a company that cares about more than just profits. This can lead to higher job satisfaction, lower turnover rates, and a more cohesive team environment.

Additionally, giving back to society helps to address systemic issues that can affect business operations in the long term. For example, investing in education and training programs can cultivate a more skilled workforce. Supporting environmental sustainability projects can help mitigate the impacts of climate change, which can directly and indirectly affect business stability and costs.

Beyond the business benefits, there's a broader impact to consider. Companies have substantial resources and influence that can drive significant societal norms and public policy changes. When businesses commit to ethical practices and community investment, they set a standard that can encourage other organisations to follow suit, leading to a collective impact that could address and possibly solve significant social challenges.

You are also a very prominent businessman and founder of the Exinity fintech group. What is your opinion of the current fintech landscape in Cyprus?

Cyprus' fintech landscape has drastically evolved in recent years. The geopolitical situation has placed the island in a favourable place to attract new businesses and investors actively seeking to promote innovation and startups. The number of fintech events held in Cyprus is increasing year-on-year, attracting more participants, especially young entrepreneurs. Recent changes to the regulatory environment in Cyprus have also bolstered the interest of fintech visionaries in the country.

What do you think of the foreign investment landscape in Cyprus? Is it easy for a foreign national to do business on the island?

I consider the foreign investment landscape in Cyprus to be promising, with a lot of emphasis to be placed on innovation and international collaboration. The main advantages of Cyprus that are credited for attracting foreign investors are obvious: government-driven investment incentives like tax breaks and grants, membership in the EU and strategic location in the Mediterranean, pro-business UK-based legal framework, generally favourable tax regime compared to other EU countries and of course the warm climate which has always been an attractive point for people with families.

How has the business landscape developed since you first came to Cyprus? Are there areas that can be improved?

For the last 12 years, the business landscape in Cyprus has undergone significant transformation. As with any country in the world, there have been ups and downs in the economy, but despite the economic challenges, the country has proved to be resilient and continues to seek growth-oriented solutions in times of global uncertainty. Of course, there are still a lot of areas for improvement, especially in governmental, educational, and ecological sectors. However, I believe that if all businesspeople living in Cyprus unite for the long-term benefit of the island and focus on sustainability, among other things, this can further bolster the economy and make Cyprus an even more attractive destination.

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