Natalia Tavlintseva, Russia

Owner of Zitar-Snab. The company is a client of TransKapitalBank, an IFC partner.

After graduating from the Russian Economic University, I was a financial analyst and really enjoyed it. But eventually, I realized the job no longer made me happy. Around that time, this was the mid-90s, my brother asked me to join him at a businesses he had started. The company was a wholesaler of hardware and tools. “Why not?” asked I myself, and agreed.

At that time, the company was small. There were just five of us, relatives and friends, but we were young, excited, and full of energy. None of us had much experience. But we were a team of like-minded people. We were learning by doing. We made mistakes, but we were slowly growing. Today, we have 12 offices across Russia and 250 employees.

We have a stable network of clients, retailers, and end users, and a strong reputation in the market. We work hard to keep our products plentiful and varied. Our 10,000 clients can select from tens of thousands of items we have in stock. We’ve just turned 25, which is quite an accomplishment for a private company in Russia. Ours is still a family business. We have two legal entities under one brand. I am an owner of one of them and I work as its chief financial officer. This is my business, my bread and butter.

Some might say that the hardware business is not for ladies, but my major at university was management. I am lucky with my family. My husband supported me, my parents supported me, my son has grown up with clear understanding of what it takes to run a private business. It is very important for me. Women need support. Like it or not, people are often skeptical about the abilities of business women. They think women are passive owners, with few real business skills. If women have more support, they'll be able to take their rightful place alongside men in the business community