Profile: Kendrick White '90
sees opportunity in Russia
beyond Moscow, and don't be put off by 'rough' government
policies, Kellogg alum tells investors
White '90 wrote his economics thesis at Stetson University
in 1984 on how and why Marx's economic theories were wrong,
and why communism would eventually go bankrupt.
later, the Soviet Union did collapse, and new Russian leader
Boris Yeltsin stood atop a tank during a failed coup and declared
a new day for his country. "I was like, 'Oh my God, it's
all true,'" White recalls.
1992, the Kellogg graduate took a two-year leave from his
strategic planning role at ABN Amro in Chicago to join the
Peace Corps in Russia. But it wasn't the typical tour of duty,
digging ditches or dispensing medicine.
found myself teaching corporate finance and advanced principles
of debt financing and technology commercialization classes,"
he says. "I then began, step by step, working with entrepreneurs
and helping them to set up companies and work with western
never returned to Chicago. Instead, he took a position with
Price Waterhouse, based in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia's third-largest
city and the central node of its military-industrial complex.
There, he developed a team of 22 Russian consultants that
helped large-scale commercial enterprises and former defense
contractors decide how to re-tool themselves in the Cold War's
1998 to 2005, White worked as director of a $50 million private
equity fund for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development,
where he invested in various successful regional enterprises.
The fund was key in helping Russia move beyond the currency
crisis of 1998, he says.
years ago, White became an entrepreneur himself, founding
Marchmont Capital Partners LLC, which has a two-pronged business
plan: to help regional entrepreneurs develop their companies,
and to publish investment guides that highlight the potential
of Russia's provincial territories. The goal is to stimulate
investment into the rapidly growing markets of the Russia
Federation and commonwealth, like Nizhny Novgorod.
a lot of technology, a lot of innovation, but there's very
little start-up and expansion financing capital," he
partly because of the country's less than stellar public relations
image. Western media tend to focus on the aggressive new energy
policies developed under Vladimir Putin that "come across
as rough," White says. But that masks the overall investment
potential in the rapidly growing local consumer markets. "You
have to be in Russia to catch this wave of development. I
got into publishing to help tell a different story from the
one you see in headlines. These regions are like black boxes
as far as the availability of open information, with few people
really understanding what's going on here."
believes that if Russia continues to develop economically,
political reforms will eventually follow. "There are
a lot of things that you and I can point to and say, 'Oh,
that's awful. Look what [Putin] did to those media companies
or that oil conglomerate. But the population isn't actually
demanding freedom of the press. There simply isn't a history
of that level of freedom here for people to look back on."
the country is evolving, he says, and the emerging middle
class and entrepreneurs will finance a new generation of politicians.
back, White appreciates the chance the president of ABN Amro
gave him in granting his leave of absence in 1992. "He
was a very insightful man to give me such an opportunity.
When you face interesting challenges and new opportunities
in life, take them."
also appreciates his Kellogg education. "I'm using everything
I learned every day," he says, while giving back by establishing
a 20-person-strong Russian alumni club based in Moscow. "I'm
a big supporter of Kellogg. I loved every minute of it."