California’s Silicon Valley may still be every tech entrepreneur’s dream destination, but it’s no longer the center of the world when it comes to IT innovation. Eastern Europeans in particular have been taking digital entrepreneurship to new heights—and Belarus is on the forefront of these efforts.
Projects such as the Belarusian Hi-Tech Park are set to position the country favorably in the global tech startup arena, but will it overtake Silicon Valley any time soon? Only time will tell, but here are 11 reasons why it may be happen sooner rather than later.
11. An advantageous geographical position.
Thanks to its location in the center of Europe, Belarus is an ideal home base for globally-minded startups. Flanked to the left and right by EU and EEU countries respectively, the country is in a perfect position to facilitate business activity across Europe.
10. Easy and streamlined cooperation with EEU countries.
Belarus is a state member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), a group that includes Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia. The EEU promotes common customs territory, equal business conditions, and single rules and regulations for different kinds of goods across the member countries. As a member, Belarus enjoys restriction-free movement of EEU goods, workforce, capital, and more.
9. An abundance of highly-skilled business professionals.
Belarusians are known for their work ethic and high regard for education, with more than 90% educated and qualified for professional vocations. In fact, the country has developed a reputation for being a software development powerhouse, with a myriad of leading businesses and startups founded in Belarus.
8. A favorable climate for doing business.
The Belarusian government has implemented various initiatives to create a positive climate conducting business, including legislation to make the country more business attractive. Its efforts are paying off: Belarus ranks favorably in The World Bank’s Doing Business 2017.
7. Favorable taxation conditions for businesses.
Various tax incentives are offered to foreign companies working with preferential regimes (e.g., free economic zones, Industrial Park Great Stone, Hi-Tech Park). These programs can significantly reduce and even eliminate tax liability for qualified startups.
6. A large presence of foreign/global enterprises and brands.
Belarus is home to over 5,000 foreign investors and their companies from 77 nations around the world. Global giants such as Bosch, Heineken, Coca-Cola, and Hewlett Packard also have a presence in the country.
5. A stable working and living lifestyle that aspires to greater heights.
A comfortable European lifestyle in ecologically-friendly surroundings–this is what Belarus has to offer. For young professionals, the country offers a sensible mix of western innovation and European sensibility towards quality of life.
4. A developed network of motorways, railways, airlines.
Belarus boasts a highly-developed transportation infrastructure that provides nearly all cargo transportation between the EU and Russia. These resources, however, are not even at 50% capacity, so early movers have at their disposal a safe, efficient, and not-yet-overloaded mechanism to transport goods to their destination safe and on time.
3. A reliable international business partner.
Superpowers like China and Russia have made substantial investments in Belarus’ economy, with projects like the China-Belarus Industrial Park further bolstering the country’s presence on the world stage. In the international business arena, leading enterprises such as Microsoft are working with government agencies and educational institutions to build up the Belarusian IT industry.
2. A strong foundation in IT and ample digital resources.
If Belarus wants to become the next Silicon Valley, it needs a secure digital foundation—fortunately, the country excels in this regard. Built in 2005, the High Technology Park (HTP) has been a hands-down success, forging partnerships with Peugeot, Mitsubishi, British Petroleum, Gazprom, Reuters, British Telecom, The London Stock Exchange, The World Bank, Coca-Cola, and more.
1. Strong governmental support.
Besides the efforts of Belarusian companies with HTP, tech innovation is actively propped up and supported by the government. In fact, the president pledged his support to startups and IT at an event held at the Minsk office of Cyprus-based VP Capital earlier this year.
Belarus may be one of the smaller European nations, but it certainly doesn’t lack tech innovation and creative entrepreneurship. While these 11 reasons may not give it international tech superiority overnight, they are nonetheless establishing the country’s growing dominance in the global tech startup arena. Be sure to keep this region on your radar in the coming months and years.