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Trending: The 15 Russian Billionaires Tied To The 2018 World Cup Games



2018 World Cup

According to Forbes  at least 15 Russian billionaires found a way to get in on the 2018 World Cup, which begins in their homeland on June 14. They either received state contracts — just 6 of them control the companies that collected nearly $7 billion to construct or repair facilities and transportation infrastructure — or invested money to do things like run ticketing systems and provide internet availability in stadiums.

An estimated 1.2 million soccer fans will travel to and from 11 host cities for the month-long event. And while watchdog NGOs are calling this period the worst human rights crisis in Russia since the Soviet era due to Kremlin-sanctioned crackdowns on human rights defenders, migrant workers and the LGBTQ community, Putin’s billionaire pals will fare just fine. As the dollar figures alone indicate, in Russia, the same old cronies are getting richer yet again.

Net worths are Forbes estimates as of June 8, 2018.

Viktor Vekselberg, aluminum baron tied to Trump lawyer Michael Cohen

Net worth: $13.6 billion

Vekselberg, who reportedly had ties to an investment firm that paid $500,000 to an LLC owned by Donald Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, was sanctioned earlier this year for his alleged role in promoting Russia’s subversive agenda abroad. Back at home, his firm Airports of Regions spent $560 million to renovate airports in four World Cup host cities: Ekaterinburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don and Samara.

Arkady Rotenberg, Putin’s onetime judo-partner

Net worth: $2.6 billion

No one landed a bigger payday. Rotenberg runs contractor Mostotrest, which owns a subsidiary that received over $4 billion in state contracts for a 425-mile highway connecting St. Petersburg and Moscow. But the highway won’t be finished in time for the sporting event. His company also received just another $1 billion to renovate three airports

Mikhail Fridman, German Khan, Alexei Kuzmichev, Pyotr Aven, tied to the “Trump Dossier”

Net worths: $13.6 billion, $8.8 billion, $6.8 billion, $4.7 billion

Fridman, Khan and Kuzmichev were former college classmates who in 1989 founded Alfa Group, a diversified outfit that controls Alfa-Bank, the largest non-state owned bank in Russia. Aven joined later in 1994 as President of Alfa-Bank. With 745 offices and branches throughout Europe, Alfa-Bank is a sponsor of the event and will support FIFA on all ticketing sales in exchange for billboard advertising during matches.

In late 2017 Fridman, Khan and Aven sued Fusion GPS, the Washington D.C.-based opposition research firm behind the “Trump Dossier,” for defamation. The dossier claims the three billionaires worked with the Kremlin to influence the 2016 presidential elections. Fusion GPS filed a motion to dismiss the case in January, claiming the research it conducted was not defamatory. The case is still pending.

Aras Agalarov, met with Trump when Miss Universe was held in Moscow

Net worth: $1.7 billion

His Crocus Group was awarded $580 million in state contracts to erect two stadiums in host cities Kaliningrad and Rostov-on-Don. Agalarov also has a Trump connection: he met with Trump in November 2013 when the Miss Universe competition was hosted in Agalarov’s Crocus City Hall in Moscow. The developer’s son told Forbes there were plans to build a Trump Tower in Russia prior to the 2016 presidential elections, but the Trump Organization denies this.

Gennady Timchenko, sanctioned by the U.S. in 2014

Net worth: $16.6 billion

Timchenko is the majority shareholder of engineering-and-construction firm Stroytransgaz, which received $530 million in state contracts to construct 45,000-seat stadiums in two cities hosting matches: Volgograd, in southern Russia, and Nizhny Novgorod, seven hours east of Moscow. Timchenko was sanctioned by the U.S. in 2014 at the height of the Crimea annexation crisis due to his close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Alisher Usmanov, controls one of Russia’s largest phone companies

Net worth: $13 billion

Usmanov, who made his first fortune producing plastic bags in the former Soviet Union, is a main shareholder of USM Holdings, which controls telecommunications provider MegaFon. The telecom company received $680 million in state contracts to provide internet and communications infrastructure to all 11 stadiums and all training camps for the 32 teams descending upon Russia for the games.

Leonid Fedun, former military man turned oil executive

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Net worth: $7.3 billion

Fedun is president of FC Spartak Moscow, known as the “people’s team,” one of Russia’s most popular soccer clubs. Fedun spent a reported $500 million to renovate the team’s home stadium in Moscow, where World Cup matches will be hosted. He owns nearly 10% of energy conglomerate Lukoil, which he helped privatize in the 1990s.

Dmitry Kamenschik, airport billionaire

Net worth: $3.4 billion

Kamenschik owns Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport, which invested $690 million on renovations in preparation for the World Cup. The airport will have a special service system for athletes and officials traveling through the airport during the international sporting event, including separate boarding and resting areas for athletes only.

Alexander Ponomarenko, Alexander Skorobogatko, construction partners

Net worths: $3.3 billion, $3.3 billion

The two Alexanders first partnered on a small perfume factory in Ukraine. They moved on to banking and sea ports before winning a tender in 2013 to develop Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport, which had the most passenger traffic (nearly 41 million)  of all Russian airports in 2017. They invested a reported $680 million on airport renovations for the influx of soccer fans, including a new passenger terminal and a multi-level parking garage.

Roman Trotsenko, owns 14 airports in Russia

Net worth: $1.6 billion

Trotsenko founded Aeon Corporation in 2007; it manages the Moscow Steamship Line, several river ports and 14 airports around the country. His airport holding company, Novoport, invested $190 million in renovating airports in Volgograd and Kaliningrad, both of which are World Cup host cities.

Dmitry Pumpyansky, controls pipe conglomerate

Net worth: $1.6 billion

The construction subsidiary of his Sinara Group spent $190 million to renovate Ekaterinburg Arena, a 65-year-old stadium that will host matches during the World Cup. Pumpyansky started as a trader before teaming up with billionaires Sergei Popov and Andrei Melnichenko to acquire pipe conglomerate TMK in the early 2000s. He bought out the other two in 2006 and counts Gazprom, the state-owned energy company with the world’s largest natural gas reserves, as one of his customers.

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Afro Success Stories

African Entrepreneurs creating Jobs and Employment in Their Communities – Olasupo Abideen




african entrepreneurs

Olasupo Abideen ” My greatest achievement is being a 25yr old employer who employs 35 people and has trained 475 Others” as one of african entrepreneurs.

Meet Olasupo

I am a 25year old one of Nigerian african entrepreneurs, founder/CEO of OPAB Gas with over 6 years of transnational experience leading and working with diverse teams to facilitate youth empowerment, development projects and youth involvement in policy. I am a UNESCO ESD Young Leader, a WEF Global Shaper and a Fellow, Young Africa Leadership Initiative.

Since receiving the $5000 Seed Capital in December 2018, my Company has created employment for thirty-five (35) University undergraduates (through our Work Student and Student Ambassadorship Program), opened ‘four (4) new Gas stores’, and trained ‘four hundred and seventy-five (475) unemployed youth and corps members‘ (through our #Gasprenuer Initiative). As a means of giving back to the community, we have also helped ‘five (5) kids’ return to school through our #StreetToSchool programme for our Community.

My Humble Beginnings

I watched my mother walk long distances to gather firewood and buy coal to cook for my family in my growing up years in my village in south-west Nigeria, where I was raised. It wasn’t peculiar to my mother; this was commonplace for all families. We all knew it wasn’t safe. We knew that if it made them this uncomfortable, there was no way it was safe, but we didn’t know there were alternatives. After all, this is how our grandparents and their parents before them lived.

It bothered me to see my mother’s red eyes, and the wet eyes of other women in our rural community bothered me a lot. Even though I did not know until recently that cooking with firewood is equivalent to smoking 400 cigarettes per hour, and is one of the three causes of mortality among women and children, I knew there had to be something I could do, but I couldn’t figure it out; or better put, I did not have enough education nor access to information to figure it out.


My Business Idea

The Idea to start my business came from a need that I identified and solving that problem meant a business opportunity. As a student of chemistry at the University of Ilorin, I was exposed – through volunteering – to MDGs (and subsequently SDGs), and I took a keen interest in clean, renewable energy, that could be used instead of orthodox fuelling options, and one of them was Liquefied Petroleum Gas.

After a long time of advocacy for SDGs, as an undergraduate, my SDGs advocacy and youth development organization, Brain Builders International, signed an agreement with the Kwara State University’s Community Development and Entrepreneurship Centre to train young Nigerians african entrepreneurs on the Sustainable Development Goals, their benefits, and ways toward actualisation.

I noticed that every time I took the 55min trip to Kwara State University to facilitate these training sessions, I would encounter students carrying gas cylinders: either going to fill Gas in Ilorin or coming back from Ilorin after filling Gas. I later learnt that the only cooking gas supplier in the community at that time was exploiting the students by using a manual scale that could be manipulated and also selling at a rip-off price.


Solving the Problem

In 2017, I took a soft loan from a friend, added some of my own moneyand after conducting intense market research, filing necessary papers, and satisfying ethical and professional standards, we opened our first OPAB Gas station. The services we offered hinged on three things; convenience, safety, and trust. Students could now focus on academics, as we did not only sell gas at the standard rate, but we also offered pick-up and delivery services. We used safe measures alongside a digital scale to address the issue of trust. Within three months we had broken even.

The TEF Intervention

In 2018, I applied for the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme but was only selected for the GIZ list to be one of the 210 beneficiaries of the training and $5000 funding. The training provided by the foundation on business planning, financial intelligence, scalability, among others could only be likened to a mini MBA.

Immediately after the training myself and my team we started discussing how to dominate the market in which we operate and capture new markets.

With the seed capital, we were able to expand our business.


Our Growth and Milestones as one of african entrepreneurs

  • Expansion: We have expanded the business to 6 stations in two townships to target the student populations and made over $25,000 since receiving the seed capital from the foundation.
  • Employment: Staff strength – 2 (in 2017), 35 people (2019).
  • Gas on Wheels: We now own delivery vans and offers delivery services
  • Digitization: We now take orders on the business’ website in both cities where we operate.
  • Introduced Customer Loyalty service
    • Health safety card – to educate users about safety measures.
    • Customer reward: Points reward system.
    • Holiday Promos
  • we also have a few impact initiatives that we run.
  • OPAB Gas has trained 450 Youth Corps members, unemployed youth in Kwara State on the economic merits of the Gas economy and the many opportunities that abound in the sector.
  • In line with the UN SDGs, OPAB student work experience – an internship programme where we train students. During this internship, they work on Sundays for a stipend. They then receive N10,000 for every 1000kg of gas sold.
  • OPAB gas student ambassador scheme – delivery service.


The Future

The vision for OPAB Gas has always been to solve energy availability and ease of use for everyone across Nigeria so we are constantly working on ways to reach out to more Nigerians.

Our OPAB telemetry solution will allow people to monitor and manage their gas usage, notify them when it is almost finished, connect them to the nearest gas stations and pay for gas with existing mobile money applications.



Contact Details


Instagram: @opabgas_

Phone call/WhatsApp: 07068775529.

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