Private Sector Development

Alexandra Lomachenko, Graduate of TechMinsk innovative entrepreneurship school supported by USAID, and winner of the GEW Startup Battle 2015
Alexandra Lomachenko, Graduate of TechMinsk innovative entrepreneurship school supported by USAID, and winner of the GEW Startup Battle 2015.

THE CHALLENGE

The private sector share of the Belarus GDP is among the lowest in the region, with micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) making up most of it. Low MSME participation in the national economy hampers job creation and development of modern products and services. Even though the Government of Belarus is taking an increased role in expanding the private sector’s role in the economy, the business environment still needs significant improvement.  A stronger private sector in Belarus will lead to sustainable job growth and increased incomes for the people of Belarus.

PROGRAM OBJECTIVES

Increase the competitiveness of the private sector and its contribution to the Belarusian economy by:

  • Improving the business enabling environment for MSMEs
  • Strengthening the capacity of MSMEs
  • Increasing access to finance.

OVERVIEW

USAID works to strengthen and expand the private sector in Belarus by improving the business enabling environment, increasing the capacity of private sector actors, and expanding access to finance. USAID’s support for the private sector focuses on entrepreneurs and MSMEs. We do this by giving special attention to improving access to modern business technologies and developing innovative entrepreneurship, financial literacy and access to capital. USAID also supports business advocacy efforts and business support organizations.

OUR PROGRAMS

Supporting Startups and Small Business Development

Since 2011, USAID continues to partner with Belbiz to organize Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW), an annual worldwide event which takes place in 160 countries. Each year, the Belarus GEW attracts participants from the private sector, international community, civil society, and government to discuss key business development issues. GEW roundtables, master classes, and competitions provide state-of-the-art knowledge, skills, and connections to hundreds of entrepreneurs.

USAID, in partnership with Belbiz, supports startups and innovative entrepreneurship through a practice-oriented TechMinsk school (Techminsk.com). TechMinsk helps participants build high growth companies by connecting local young talent to an international network of trainers, mentors and investors.

USAID also partners with the Society for Innovative Business Support (SIBS) to advance startup support infrastructure in all regions of Belarus, with a special focus on young people with innovative ideas who lack expertise for developing a business. Startup School graduates present their projects during competitions called “Expert Days” and “Invest Days” conducted throughout Belarus.

Facilitating Access to Venture Funding in Belarus (AID-VENTURE)

Launched in 2016, AID-VENTURE helps create a favorable legal environment for venture funding in Belarus, educates business angels and future investors on best practices in venture funding, and builds a community of private venture investors while integrating Belarus into the international venture funding ecosystem. It helps bring investors closer to startups through accelerators, startup competitions, and dedicated events.

Business Education

For over a decade, USAID assisted both academic and non-formal business education in Belarus by supporting the adoption of international business education standards, professional exchanges, modern curricula and innovative teaching formats, including distance learning courses. USAID partners with PYXERA Global (a U.S.-based organization) and the IPM Business School in the Delivering Vital Instruction for Entrepreneurial Success (DRIVES) project. DRIVES helps to improve access to high quality business training for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Belarusian regions by developing blended and distance learning business training programs.

Increasing Access to Finance for the Rural Population in Belarus

This USAID project implemented by the Republican Microfinance Center aims to broaden economic opportunities for rural populations through raising financial literacy, strengthening entrepreneurial skills, and improving access to microfinance for entrepreneurship purposes. The project also promotes improved policies for microfinance and adoption of international best practices.

PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS

Improving Business Regulations & Belarusian Entrepreneurs Support and Training

  • From 2010-2017, USAID and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) helped to improve the regulatory environment for MSMEs by upgrading and simplifying administrative procedures; the inspection system; and the national certification and standardization system.  Results under this program also include introducing a regulatory impact assessment, creating a collateral registry of movable assets, and simplifying export and import procedures. About 40 legislative acts were developed, and 16 were adopted.
  • 6,000 MSMEs improved their business capacity through USAID-supported training in business management using the internationally known Business Edge training toolkit developed by IFC.

Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) & Supporting Startups and Early Stage Small Business Development

  • GEW events attract on average 1,500 participants a year
  • Since 2013, TechMinsk engaged 231 young tech entrepreneurs in training and mentorship, 31 percent of whom were women.  Graduates of TechMinsk created 14 new companies, including OneSoil, Eightydays.me, GanttPro, Kuku.io, AltaAI, MeetnGreetMe, Exponenta.io, Tap2Pay, and others
  • Since 2013, the IMAGURU entrepreneurship hub hosts private sector support activities focused on young, high-tech entrepreneurs
  • Since 2016, SIBS launched 13 Startup Schools (Start.by) in all regions of Belarus. To date, a total of 3,450 people were trained. 164 startup teams consisting of Startup School graduates presented their projects to investors and business experts during “Expert” and “Investor” Days
  • IPM ran two Best Start-Up Idea Competitions, for 67 startup teams from across Belarus. Participants received free access to 6 online courses, including Business Planning Principles, External Environment Analysis, Marketing Concepts, Basic Financial Accounting, Basic Financial Analysis, and Risk Analysis, developed with USAID support.

Business Education

  • IPM Business School expanded its high-quality training programs to Belarusian regions, converting 12 business courses into a distance-learning format. 373 regional entrepreneurs benefited from this training
  • 6 regional centers of excellence in entrepreneurship established by the IPM Business School; 3,663 entrepreneurs benefited from the services offered by these centers

Facilitating Access to Venture Funding in Belarus (AID-VENTURE)

  • First survey of startup and venture funding in Belarus conducted
  • Business Angels Academy trained 18 business angels
  • Quarterly B-Venture discussion events with the involvement of international experts facilitated dialogue on building a Belarus venture funding ecosystem.

Increasing Access to Finance for the Rural Population in Belarus

  • Select local microfinance institutions upgraded their policies and procedures in accordance with international standards to better serve their client rural entrepreneurs
  • 83 trainers certified to conduct “Plan Your Future” courses
  • Over 3,500 representatives of rural microenterprises with entrepreneurship potential improved their financial literacy. Up to 1,500 people improved their skills in business and agriculture.

Last updated: June 05, 2018

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