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Faith-Based Business Associations: Places of Trust
14 February 2019
14:30—15:45
KEY CONCLUSIONS
Religion and business can work together for the benefit of the society and the economy

Religion and religious communities can play a major role. Religion is not prayer. It is laws and rules and a way of life. If a person believes in God, it helps in their business. In Talmud the main question is asked when a person faces God’s judgement: did you do business with honesty? Religion and business should work together. First of all, it is trust. I believe it is crucial for business. And in religion honesty is primary — Berel Lazar, Chief Rabbi of the Russian Federation.

All traditional religions call for honesty in business, to fairness, to a business person’s responsibility not only to someone they do business with, but to God as well. This motivation is truly important to a person of faith — Albir Krganov, Mufti of the Spiritual Assembly of Muslims of the Russian Federation.

ISSUES
Lack of trust is in the way of development

The crisis of distrust in the society is evident. Nobody trusts anybody: customers do not trust banks; banks do not trust customers, creditors, or borrowers; consumers do not trust manufacturers; manufacturers fear racketeering; we do not trust the government; the government does not trust us. <…> This situation is utterly egregious. It has a major impact on start-ups — Marina Bludyan, Vice President, All-Russian Non-Governmental Organization of Small and Medium-Sized Businesses Opora Russia.

Searching for trust is an issue. On one hand, people should come to God. On the other hand, the church should make a step to meet them halfway. Matters of trust in business are the ones that may simplify this process, on one hand, while on the other hand, they may scare off people in negative cases — Alexey Bobrovsky, Head of the Economic Programme, Russia 24.

Government and business underestimate economic potential of religious tradition

Halal-based industry <…> is rapidly developing all around the world. In Russia it has an enormous potential. But unfortunately, we do not have a common standard for halal that would comply with international codes of recognition, so that our manufacturers could supply their produce to Muslim countries — Albir Krganov, Mufti of the Spiritual Assembly of Muslims of the Russian Federation.

If we address Islamic finance, we need to review a launch mechanism for it in the Russian Federation. Take a look at our neighbours in Kazakhstan: they started Astana International Financial Centre and host important events. Some countries have Muslim chambers of commerce and industry. And it is not just Muslim countries that pursue it – it is western countries as well. London, for example, takes it very seriously. We need to consider this experience — Albir Krganov, Mufti of the Spiritual Assembly of Muslims of the Russian Federation.

The most important investment is investment in human development. The Waqf system of social funds has been operating in the Islamic world for over fifteen hundred years. Their revenues could be used for social projects. If legislatively prescribed, the Waqf could render financial help to small and medium businesses that do not have to be owned by Muslims. That would have an impact on the Russian economy — Albir Krganov, Mufti of the Spiritual Assembly of Muslims of the Russian Federation.

SOLUTIONS
Using religious tradition to improve the level of trust and morals in the society

We have united to improve the level of trust, and we are different people of different professions. Together with our brothers from the Muslim and the Judaic communities, we are trying to stir up this dialogue. We host various events, including the ones with an economic or business agenda. For example, we are launching a mentoring programme, a programme that is meant to help in one’s search for a job — Inal Ardzinba, Chairman of the Council on Youth Affairs under the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

A social elevator in a religious community has a big advantage: when a person joins the community, he is trusted by default. Trust in Russian Orthodox communities is unbreakable — Inal Ardzinba, Chairman of the Council on Youth Affairs under the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

There are laws that a religious person would never break, and they found their way into business tradition. Now faith-based business communities help tradition get restored in business community in general — Marina Bludyan, Vice President, All-Russian Non-Governmental Organization of Small and Medium-Sized Businesses Opora Russia.

We need to focus on younger generations and do everything to implant biblical commandments in them. This should not necessarily be done professionally, we need to do it through the church — Vladimir Dmitriev, Vice President, Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation.

Do not impose and do not force, because in the age of informational freedom it results in fierce antagonism — Maria Voropayeva, Chairman, Public Youth Chamber at the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation.

Developing a dialogue among religions

Now is the time build interreligious alliances and enforce this effort. Even if we fail to do it, it will happen anyways — Evgeny Goltzman, Co-founder of the Jewish business club SOLOMON.

The material was prepared by the Russian news agency TASS