November 27, 2022

Thrive Insider

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Rinat Akhmetov’s Philanthropic Azovstal Steel Bracelets

Born in 1966 in Donetsk, Ukraine, Rinat Akhmetov grew up in a modest home. His father (a coal miner) and his mother (a shop assistant) struggled to make ends meet during in Soviet Union-era Ukraine.  

As a young man during the fall of the USSR in the early 1990s, Rinat Akhmetov took advantage of the volatile regional economy and business environment to make his initial financial fortune. His diverse business ventures ultimately expanded to encompass markets and industries that include mining, energy, investment banking, and insurance.

Rinat Akhmetov has owned the professional Ukrainian soccer team Shakhtar Donetsk since 1996 and led the diversified Ukrainian business conglomerate System Capital Management (SCM) since 2000.  He graduated from Donetsk National University with a bachelor’s degree in economics in 2001.

For Rinat Akhmetov, personal growth and success means little unless he is also sharing it with others. “I have always been engaged in charitable giving,” he said. “For me, charity is, first of all, the ability to feel someone else’s pain. It means openness and, of course, commitment to delivering results.”

Most of Rinat Akhmetov’s philanthropic work has revolved around his home country of Ukraine. In addition to making generous financial contributions to a range of other nonprofits, he operates his own charitable initiative under the name Foundation for Development of Ukraine (FDU). He founded FDY in 2005 as the nonprofit arm of SCM.

FDU has a long history of feeding needy children and responding to victims of military action within Ukraine. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Rinat Akhmetov led the organization to deliver critical supplies and equipment including PPEs, rapid testing kits, and ventilators through the Ukrainian Ministry of Health.

So, when Vladimir Putin ordered his aggressive military attack against the people of Ukraine in 2002, Rinat Akhmetov was quick to come to his country’s aid once again. “Russia is an aggressor country, and Putin is a war criminal,” he said. “Because Ukraine has always been a peaceful country and has never attacked anyone. And today in our country villages, cities and infrastructure are being destroyed, peaceful people are dying and suffering.”

From the very early days of the unprotected Russian invasion, Rinat Akhmetov has been dedicated to helping “the Ukrainian army to protect the sovereignty of our country and win, and Ukrainians to survive and endure.” As part of these efforts, he and the Metinvest Group partnered with the Ukrainian Armed Forces fundraising platform United24 to launch a highly unique, bracelet centered, public campaign.

This campaign revolves around the sale and proud display of steel bracelets that both symbolically and financially support the Armed Forces. To make them even more significant, each bracelet is made from the fine raw materials of Ukraine’s legendary Azovstal iron and steel works. This Mariupol-based metallurgical facility was one of the largest steel rolling companies in the nation before it fell into Russian hands, along with the city around it, in May of 2022.

The steel for the Metinvest Group/United24 bracelets came from the very last batch of steel that Azovstal produced before it became a casualty of war. The facility served as the Ukrainian military’s last stronghold in Mariupol, before its full occupation by Russian forces.

Each Metinvest Group/United24 bracelet sells for roughly $40. All proceeds from these bracelets go to purchase much-needed drones for the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

The Ukrainian government has publicly expressed its gratitude for the patriotic Metinvest Group/United24 initiative.  “Today the word ‘Azovstal’ means courage and spirit of the entire nation,” Deputy Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov stated in an official press release.

Launched on October 6, 2022, the patriotic Metinvest Group/United24 bracelet initiative heralded a positive turn in the Russian conflict. In September, Russia released 215 Ukrainian prisoners of war. This included 108 members of the Azov Regiment, a division of the Ukrainian National Guard based in Mariupol and the larger Sea of Azov coastal region.