Private Sector Development

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 and slows the transfer of technology demanded by a competitive market economy. While there is an increasing appreciation by the Government of Belarus for the private sector’s role in the economy, the business environment still needs improvement.

PROGRAM OBJECTIVES

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

  • Improving the business enabling environment for MSMEs;
  • Strengthening the capacity of MSMEs; and
  • 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 increasing access to finance. USAID’s support for the private sector focuses on entrepreneurs and micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). USAID gives special attention to improving access to modern technologies and developing innovative entrepreneurship and start-ups. USAID supports business advocacy efforts and regulatory reforms, as well as contributes to developing business support organizations, improving financial literacy and access to capital.

OUR PROGRAMS

Improving Business Regulations and the National Quality Infrastructure (BR/NQI)

The BR/NQI project, a multi-donor effort co-funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), is implemented by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) since 2010. The project contributes to improving regulatory environment for MSMEs; improving the national certification and standardization system in accordance with international standards; and simplifying export and import procedures.

Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW)

Since 2011, USAID has partnered with the Center for Business Communications BEL.BIZ to organize GEW, an annual worldwide event to promote values of entrepreneurship and innovation. This major entrepreneurship forum taking place in 160 countries attracts millions of participants, aspiring and mature entrepreneurs, investors, local and international experts, government officials, and youth.

Supporting Start-ups and Early Stage Small Business Development

In 2015, USAID in partnership with BEL.BIZ launched a project to develop start-ups and innovative entrepreneurship support infrastructure. The project activities include business training and international experience exchange. USAID support contributes to including Belarusian IT-entrepreneurs into the global start-up movement. In 2016, USAID also partnered with the Society for Innovative Business Support (SIBS), to advance start-up support infrastructure in the regions of Belarus. The target audience is young people with innovative ideas who lack expertise for developing a business.

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

The project started at the end of 2016. AID-VENTURE will help educate investors and build the local community of private venture investors; integrate Belarus in the international venture funding ecosystem; as well as bring investors closer to startups through accelerators, start-up competitions, and educational events.

Business Education

For over a decade, USAID has assisted the development of both academic and non-formal business education in Belarus by supporting the adoption of international business education standards, professional exchange, modern curricula and innovative formats, including distant learning courses.

Increasing Access to Finance for the Rural Population in Belarus

USAID aims to broaden economic opportunities for rural populations through raising financial literacy, strengthening entrepreneurial skills, and improving access to microcredit for entrepreneurship purposes. Project activities also promote improved policies and regulations for microfinance in Belarus and advance international best practices. The project is implemented by the Republican Microfinance Center (RMC) throughout the country, with a particular focus on rural areas and small cities in Minsk and Brest regions.

PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS

BR/NQI & Belarusian Entrepreneurs Support and Training

  • Approximately 30 legislative acts aimed at improving business regulation were drafted over the past five years. These efforts resulted in the adoption by the Government of Belarus of a unified list of administrative procedures, an improved inspections system, and other.
  • Capacity of approximately 6,000 MSMEs strengthened through USAID-supported training in various business management areas, using the internationally known Business Edge training toolkit developed by IFC. Approximately 65 percent of participants improved operations.

Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) & Supporting Start-ups and Early Stage Small Business Development

  • GEW events have attracted from 1,000 to 1,500 participants annually.
  • Since 2013, the TechMinsk Start-Up School has engaged dozens of young entrepreneurs from the tech sector. In 2015-2016, USAID supported practice-oriented training and mentorship of 73 young aspiring tech entrepreneurs, 30 percent of whom were women.  Graduates of the School created 26 new startup companies, of them 14 are led by women.
  • The IMAGURU entrepreneurship hub opened in 2013 to provide a unique space for hosting private sector support activities focused on young high-tech professionals and entrepreneurs.
  • Since 2016, SIBS has launched 12 start-up schools (Start.by) in Minsk, Vitebsk, Grodno, Brest, Gomel, and Mogilev regions. A total of 2,000 people were trained thus far. Fifty-four experts, including successful entrepreneurs and representatives of the private sector, shared their expertise, aspiring entrepreneurs free of charge. Graduates of start-up schools present their projects to experts and investors during Expert and Investor Days conducted throughout of Belarus.

Increasing Access to Finance for the Rural Population in Belarus

  • Involves extensive organizational capacity-building elements to microfinance institutions, including improved procedures for non-banking micro-lending and micro-leasing in the rural areas.
  • Conducted 2 international conferences on financial literacy and modern instruments of financing of MSMEs, the most recent organized in partnership with the National Bank and the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Belarus.
  • 61 trainers certified to conduct “Plan Your Future” courses.
  • Over 2,000 representatives of rural microenterprises with entrepreneurship development potential improved their financial literacy. Approximately 900 persons improved their knowledge in rural entrepreneurship and agricultural technologies.

Last updated: November 07, 2017

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