The idea that “together we can move mountains” served the Maxavto service station in Maladzečna very well indeed: not only did they improve their service level, but also benefited local residents. How? By promoting the concept that you can bike when you can’t drive.
It became possible thanks to ZOViK community organization and the EU “Local Economic Development in Belarus” Project. The project is supported by the European Union under the EU4Business initiative and implemented by UNDP together with the Ministry of Economy of Belarus.
Protect the environment and stay healthy
A community organization called ZOViK has been promoting eco-friendly projects in Belarus for a long time, so the organizers themselves found a partner to participate in the initiatives aimed at developing the entrepreneurship. They chose Maladzečna’s Maxavto service station, whose owners wanted not only to expand their business, but also do something useful for their local community. The service station really stood out in the crowd: Maxavto had its own website with delivery service, it was one of the largest auto goods shops in the area, and it had set up a comfortable lounge with free wi-fi where customers could observe the repair process online.
“We ran some polls to see if our ideas would be of interest to the city's residents,” says the project leader Anastasia Leonovich. “Interest was high.”
To implement the initiative, the EU offered a grant of US $40,000 through its EU4Business initiative, and some US $28,000 more was co-financed by Maxavto’s owner. The initial sum was invested into new equipment in addition to the company’s existing inventory. Then it was decided to kill two birds with one stone: help car owners while their vehicles are under maintenance and push them towards a healthier lifestyle.
“We came up with the idea of lending bikes to our clients for free,” says Leonovich. “When they drop off their cars for maintenance, they don’t need to call a cab or ask a friend for a lift anymore. They can hop a bike instead, stay healthy and be eco-friendly. We also hope that people who use a bike from time to time will take a liking to it.”
The bicycle park with bicycles is ready.
Help for future auto mechanics
What is truly unusual with Maxavto is the program the company plans to launch at the service station. Called “We can fix what your father can’t,” on certain days, fathers and kids will be invited to the service station for a lecture on car operations and maintenance. They will even be able to fix minor problems hands on, while the mothers enjoy some well-deserved me-time.
“We wanted to give a break to mothers who typically are the primary caregivers,” explains Leonovich. “While father and kid are busy at the service station, mom has an opportunity for rest, self-development and time-management.”
On top of this, car amateurs will be offered workshops at the service station. Under the Vocational Guidance project, Maxavto will work with schoolchildren and students from the Berezinsky Agrarian and Technical Professional Lyceum. In this way, young people will be able to make a more educated choice about their future professions, and students will have the hands-on practice necessary to get a job.
“At the end of April and in May students from the Lyceum will be invited to workshops and training at the service station,” says Leonovich. “If they prove themselves, they will have an opportunity to become interns. This is a major advantage for further employment, because many service stations are looking for people with work experience — which is difficult to get right after graduation.”
And that’s not all. As part of the initiative, Maxavto will generate 15 new jobs. Among them are two special openings reserved for a disabled person and for an ex-convict, both groups of individuals who would not be able to find a job in a small town at any place but this.