Ethnoeconomy As A Factor Of Regional Development


Ethnic entrepreneurship is one of the promising areas of the regional economy, as it contributes to the growth of self-employment and incomes of the population, the preservation of rural settlements, traditional types of nature management, and unique production technologies. As noted by many researchers, ethnoeconomics is developing most successfully in the service sector. Among the main directions of the development of ethnoeconomics, ethnic tourism, folk crafts, and handicrafts, and the processing of agricultural raw materials are distinguished. The aim of the article is to study the ethno-economic aspects of modern entrepreneurship in the Mongolian-speaking regions of Russia: Kalmykia and Buryatia. The article is based on the comparative method. An expert survey of representatives of ethnic entrepreneurship in the studied regions was carried out. In Kalmykia and Buryatia, experts note the popularity and demand for ethnic goods, handicrafts in the segment of ethnic fashion, ethnic design as well as services of ethno-tourism, ethno-restaurants testify to the prospects of ethno-business and ethno-entrepreneurship in these regions. The active revival of Buddhism, restoration, national culture development, and natural resources make the regions we are considering especially attractive for tourists. Cultural events held in these republics are among the top destinations for events and ecotourism in the country. Thus, the ethnoeconomics of these regions, which changed the economic specifics to the specification in the service sector, is one of the republics' development resources under consideration.

Keywords: Ethnoeconomicsethno-entrepreneurshipregional developmentRepublic of KalmykiaRepublic of Buryatia


Ethnic economy and ethnic entrepreneurship are the most critical elements of the economic system of any country. There are two main aspects to defining the concept of "ethnic economy" (Ivanova, 2018, p. 7). The first aspect of ethnoeconomics is understood as the economy of ethnic migrants, and the second is a geographically localized segment associated with the traditional types of labor activity of particular peoples.

Initially, the ethnic economy is associated with the traditional method of conducting a particular people's economic activities. Ovchinnikov, Kolesnikov to the characteristic features of ethnoeconomics include:

  • dominance of informal institutions;

  • domination of traditional, mainly agricultural forms of economic activity;

  • combination of natural and small-scale production forms, isolation of households, underdevelopment of exchange;

  • non-mobile resources inherent in the local habitat;

  • empirical economic and labor experience, the use of handicrafts and home work;

  • extensive type of employment with the use of a raw economic infrastructure, the dominance of manual labor;

  • low social and territorial-spatial mobility of the population

One of the most significant features of ethnoeconomics is the use of methods for conducting production activities, personal subsidiary farming and household farming, which are traditional for ethnically expressed regions (Ovchinnikov & Kolesnikov, 2006, p. 118). According to Klochko and Kobozeva (2017), ethnoeconomics is the science of the interaction of culture, traditions, ethnicity, customs, ideology, religious views of various nations with their economic activities (p. 39).

However, in the modern world, the traditional type of management of certain ethnic groups is in a decadent state and is not the basis of the economy of these regions. Madyukova and Persidskaya (2018) note that one of the most effective mechanisms for overcoming local economic crises is forming an ethno-economic structure based on ethno-economic neo-traditionalism (p. 46).

At present, ethnoeconomics "goes" beyond the traditional management and production type and takes on new forms. The use of ethnic components in different areas is becoming a trend, symbolizing not only belonging to a particular ethnic group, but also environmental friendliness, uniqueness of goods or services. Baksheev (2016) notes that ethnoeconomics can be a kind of "growth point" of the regional economy (p. 146). Tyukhtenyeva (2018) calls such an economy “ethnic entrepreneurship without migration”.

In recent years, ethnic entrepreneurship has become the subject of research by many economists in different regions of the country. The ethnoeconomic segment enhances the competitive potential of the region's economic system, while drawing the attention of the local population to the preservation of the region's ethno-cultural traditions (Oorzhak, 2019, p. 1760). Persidskaya draws attention to the fact that economic structures are largely a product of the ethnic environment, and not only strategies of rational economic behavior, since ethnic cultures, at the mental level, "programming" the activity of their carriers, affect their economic behavior through values (Persidskaia, 2019, p. 44).

Problem Statement

There are two regions in Russia, the population of which is inhabited by Mongol-speaking peoples - Buryatia and Kalmykia. The republics are territorially distant, but they retain deep spiritual ties, profess one religion. For Kalmykia and Buryatia, cattle breeding is the leading branch of the economy, where, at the same time, a number of individual traditional features are preserved, due to natural-climatic and archaic methods of farming. This, first of all, concerns pasture cattle breeding, also called distant pasture, when livestock is driven from one pasture to another in season.

The traditional type of management in Buryatia and Kalmykia occupies a prominent place in the economy. However, the republics have been in a difficult socio-economic situation for many years, which is characteristic of agricultural and livestock regions.

The active revival of Buddhism, the restoration and development of the national culture, the problems of preserving the national language - these ethnosocial processes in the republics under consideration occur in parallel (Kovanova et al., 2019, p. 1099). All these processes affect the development of various areas of ethnic entrepreneurship in these republics. The popularity of ethno-tourism, ethnomusic, ethno-products as environmentally friendly, ethno-restaurants, handicrafts in the segment of ethno-fashion, ethno-design in recent years indicate the prospects of the ethnic economy (Duguzheva, 2018, p. 98, 99)

Thus, the ethnoeconomics of these regions, which changed the economic specifics to the specification in the service sector, is one of the development resources of the republics under consideration.

Research Questions

The subject of the study is the analysis of the use of the ethnic, national component in the experience of doing business in the republics of Kalmykia and Buryatia.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the article is to study the ethno-economic aspects of modern entrepreneurship in Kalmykia and Buryatia.

Research Methods

The main research methods are the comparative method, expert survey. The article presents the results of an expert survey. A total of 20 experts were interviewed in the two studied regions. This method implies a competent assessment by representatives of ethnic entrepreneurship of the current situation in the development of the ethnic economy. The choice of this method of sociological research is justified, since the information received from a group of experts, as a rule, turns out to be reliable and reliable. The selection of experts for the research was carried out on the basis of voluntary participation in the research according to the following parameters: profile of activity (connection with the subject area); experience and knowledge of the situation in the republic, experience of living in a specific territory. Thus, representatives of ethnic entrepreneurship in the republics, specialists and representatives of government bodies, public organizations that support the development of ethnic entrepreneurship in these regions were selected.


As part of studying the issues of ethnic entrepreneurship in the republics, expert interviews were conducted with representatives of ethno-business, representatives of government bodies and public organizations that support entrepreneurs. Among the representatives of ethnic entrepreneurship, these are, first of all, restaurateurs or owners of national cuisine cafes, ateliers, clothing manufacturers, representatives of the tourism business, manufacturers of souvenir products, owners of souvenir shops, manufacturers of ethnic furniture, etc.

The questions were divided into the following thematic blocks:

  • the reason for choosing the "ethnic" direction in business;

  • government support measures;

  • the target audience;

  • problems faced by entrepreneurs;

  • business development prospects, business features.

Choosing a direction of business. Most of the entrepreneurs, except restaurateurs and cafe owners, both in Kalmykia and in Buryatia, noted that they associate the choice of the direction of their entrepreneurial activity with the search for a “new” or “unique” product or service. It is important to note that many entrepreneurs in the past few years have noted a certain "demand" for "ethnic", there is a desire of people to include elements of national patterns and symbols in their everyday image: "T-shirt, tracksuit, cap with various symbols ...", "everyday clothes with inscriptions on Todo bichg ("Clear letter" - Old Kalmyk writing), "we have very popular" knots "and inscriptions in Old Mongolian ...".

The owners of cafes of national cuisine, restaurateurs, manufacturers of certain food products, on the contrary, are based their choice on food habits, the presence of national dishes in the daily diet of residents. In turn, they noted that the national cuisine is one of the most important components of attracting tourists. We agree with Bakaeva's (2018) opinion that:

in a small region, the local population remains the main audience of the" ethnic "restaurant business, and branding and advertising are based on promoting ideas of association with the image of a successful modern young man who knows and appreciates his culture (p. 65).

At the same time, some experts noted that often the appeal to ethnic, national “content” of their entrepreneurial activity was accidental: “I first sewed a wedding dress with elements of national dress at the request of my friend, then my relatives, friends of friends asked, and how it started ...”, “I made a shelf for the altar for myself, then I saw my aunt and asked to make for her ...”.

It is important to note the fact that the interviewed respondents often mentioned that they borrowed certain ideas from each other, were interested in the experience of other national regions, as well as Mongolia, which is a vivid example of the development of ethnic tourism (Perova, 2016, p. 708)

State support measures. Respondents in both Kalmykia and Buryatia noted that grants from regional ministries are the main means of government support. Experts noted that not all areas of ethnic entrepreneurship have the opportunity to receive state support: “tourism is mainly supported, sometimes ateliers or workshops ...”, “it all depends on the activity of the entrepreneur himself, how competently the grant application will be worked out, the business plan is shown, etc."

The target audience. Respondents both in Kalmykia and in Buryatia note that the main consumers of goods with national elements are the local population. As noted above, in recent years there has been a constant demand for ethnic goods or goods with national elements, stylized clothing. Experts note that if earlier mainly elderly people had national costumes, now young people also order costumes. As one of the experts noted: "... for many buyers it is important to represent themselves as a representative of their ethnic group, and sometimes a sub-ethnic group."

Problems being faced. For the most part, entrepreneurs in the ethnic economy face the same problems as small and medium-sized businesses across the country. Among the key problems, entrepreneurs identify the current fiscal burden (taxes, insurance premiums) and the difficulties arising with the selection of personnel. Entrepreneurs note that there is a big problem of lack of unique craftsmen and craftsmen. Restaurateurs in Kalmykia say that when installing a Kalmyk yurt at a restaurant or erecting a Kalmyk yurt town, they cannot find installers among the local residents and for this they invite Mongols living in the republic. At the same time, respondents from Buryatia noted that they do not have such a problem. However, both in Kalmykia and in Buryatia, experts note that there are now very few masters of national instruments, masters of making complex souvenirs (from leather, wood, metal). It is noted that most of the souvenir products are produced in China and this hinders the development and promotion of "unique" souvenir products. Thanks to the development of ethnic entrepreneurship, a large number of souvenirs have appeared in Kalmykia today, which can be attributed to purely regional products produced in the republic. This problem is typical for almost all national regions of the country. Economists note that negative tendencies are observed in the sphere of folk crafts in Mordovia: a limited number of organizations producing folk crafts; reduction in the number of professionals in the industry, the threat of loss of artistic and stylistic features and traditions, continuity ... (Averina et al., 2013, p. 95).

Business development prospects, features. Experts, both in Kalmykia and in Buryatia, note the popularity and demand for ethnic goods, handicrafts in the segment of ethnic fashion, ethnic design. As well as services of ethno-tourism, ethno-restaurants, which testifies to the prospects of ethno-business and ethno-entrepreneurship in these regions. The active revival of Buddhism, restoration, development of national culture, natural resources, make the regions we are considering especially attractive for tourists. Cultural events held in these republics are among the top destinations for event and ecotourism in the country. To increase the tourist attractiveness of the regions, various cultural events with a national flavor are held from a master class to a festival, where tourists have the opportunity to become a spectator and a direct participant in these events. Currently, on the territory of each region of the Russian Federation, the state encourages the development of projects related to ethnography, and such tours are becoming more and more popular (Kedrova, 2020, p. 12).


In conclusion, we will draw the following conclusions.

In the republics, the processes of development of ethnic entrepreneurship have similar features and develop in parallel.

According to the results of the interviews, ethnoeconomics is presented not as the main type of management of a certain ethnic group, their main type of activity, for example, cattle breeding, but the sale of goods or services that are perceived or associated by modern residents as “ethnic”, “national”, “our local”, “Kalmyk "Or" Buryat ".

The interviews show that the development of ethnic entrepreneurship is an important resource for the development of economies in the reviewed republics. We agree with Sharaeva's (2017) opinion that thanks to the development of ethnic entrepreneurship in Kalmykia, a large number of souvenirs have appeared today, which can be attributed to purely regional products produced in the republic (p. 80).

However, in this type of activity, the personality of the entrepreneur is especially important. He is, first of all, an enthusiastic person, an entrepreneur "in spirit", that is, ready to take risks and, most importantly, a person who sincerely worries about the fate of his people and tries to draw attention to the rich and unique culture of his people through modern forms. Examples were presented that these people began to organize further language courses, various master classes. However, it should be noted that this is also the vulnerability of this business, since it depends on the enthusiasm of one or more people. Therefore, many firms, cafes, restaurants are closed over time, but it should be noted that other entrepreneurs come to their place with new ideas and formats (creation of Kalmyk, Buryat applications, other digital and information products).


This article was prepared as part of the project «Socio-economic development paths of the Mongol-speaking regions of Russia (on the example of the republics of Kalmykia and Buryatia)» (grant RFBR 19-010-01082).


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Ekaterina, K., Badmaeva, N., & Alekseev, S. (2021). Ethnoeconomy As A Factor Of Regional Development. In E. Popov, V. Barkhatov, V. D. Pham, & D. Pletnev (Eds.), Competitiveness and the Development of Socio-Economic Systems, vol 105. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 545-551). European Publisher.