Former English teacher and a mother of 4 becomes Russia’s second woman billionaire

The Hush Post | 5:07 pm | Two-minute read |

Tatyana Bakalchuk has become Russia’s second female billionaire. The 43-year-old woman is the founder and CEO of Russia’s largest online retail company, Wildberries. She built her company from a scratch into a billion dollar firm.

According to Forbes, the net value of Bakalchuk’s company I US$ 1 billion (Rs 7100 crore). Elena Baturina is the first woman billionaire of Russia having a net worth at US $ 1.2 billion (Rs 8520 crore). Elena is the wife of a former Moscow mayor and heads investment and construction company Inteco Management.

Bakalchuk started her company in 2004 at the age of 28. She was on a maternity leave then. After giving birth to her child, Bakalchuk realized how difficult it was for mothers to buy clothes for their children. This very thought gave her the idea of starting Wildberries.

Wanted to continue teaching

Bakalchuk is a mother of four children today. She started Wildberries when her first kid was one month old. Prior to that she was an English teacher and wanted to continue teaching. But since the kid required somebody to look after, she decided to work from home instead.  She is sometimes referred to as Russia’s Jack Ma, the Chinese billionaire. Ma was also an English teacher before starting his e-Commerce company Alibaba in 1999.

At the dawn of her business, the woman and her husband Vladislav had around $700 to launch it, and spent around $70 per day on advertising. She ordered clothes from a German mail-order catalog, and posted the scanned pictures of them on her website. She delivered the parcels to her customers instead of making buyers pick up their purchases from her first “office” in her apartment.

Employee stole all money

The first person Bakalchuck hired to help her stole all the money set aside for paying the manufacturer, and vanished. The woman struggled to cover the loss, but did not lose faith in people.

Today Wildberries has become the leader of Russian online retailing. One can find hundreds of thousands of items from clothing to electronics on Wildberries. It has a 15,000-strong workforce and around 20 lakh visitors reach the website daily.

Tatyana Bakalchuk is one of the most mysterious personalities among Russia’s wealthy. There are not many photos of her on the internet, and some even doubt that she exists. She usually shies away from the public eye, but gave her first video interview last year.

“You should not be ashamed to look your children and your employees in the eyes… Everything you do, you do according to your conscience,” she said.

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