Belarus sees not only quantitative growth but also quality growth of entrepreneurship last years. Considerable part of the private sector working hard to develop the sphere of services. Accelerated movement in this direction and interests of the private sector taken into account by government work out the program on developing the sphere of services in the period till 2025. Belarusian government emphasizes the establishment of a healthy and continuous dialogue between the state and the private sector.
There has been a boost in the number of small businesses and entrepreneurs in Belarus in recent years.
New businesses are springing up across Belarus with the number of registered enterprises increasing from 29,044 in 2002 to more than 77,228 in October 2009, and employing more than 530,000 people. However there is still room for growth with the SME sector contributing just 9.5% of GDP in 2009. While in November 2018, the number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) * amounted to 107.800: medium-sized organizations – 2.2 thousand, small organizations – 11.3 thousand, microorganizations – 94.3 thousand.
This sector is being helped by the Council for Entrepreneurship in Belarus which acts as a forum for the small business community to communicate with government to improve the business environment.
The European Bank for Reconstruction & Development has reported that the SME sector in Belarus has been developing quickly and expects it to continue to do so on the back of a lower tax and administrative burden.
At the moment the main problems of entrepreneurship development in BY:
1) Inadequate financial support and the lack of real financial and credit mechanisms to ensure such support.
2) Tax legislation is still controversial and complex.
The imperfection of the tax system is compounded by excessive bureaucratization and excessive administration of the development of small and medium-sized enterprises by the state [7, p. 45].
3) The absence or inconsistency of legislative acts, the possibility of their ambiguous interpretation and application, bureaucratic complication of business registration procedures, licensing of activities, product certification, registration of property rights, etc., as well as significant financial costs associated with this remain the main problems in the activities of small enterprises.
4) An excessively complicated procedure for the voluntary liquidation of legal entities. As a result of this, there are a significant number of non-working firms that exist only formally.
5) Administrative barriers.
Social Entrepreneurship in Belarus
The development of social entrepreneurship in Belarus and as the term appeared in the early 2010s and was initiated by small businesses and private enterprises doing business at the intersection of social inquiry and financial models.
But the process of determining and developing social business on the economic agenda of the country and in society is still ongoing and it was well described by the Dutch expert in social entrepreneurship Maria Cheryakova, describing the main barriers to its development in Belarus:
“All surveyed social entrepreneurs have indicated that the biggest barrier towards developing their social business is that Belarusian people tend to think in problems rather than in solutions. One social entrepreneur described it as the following, “most Belarusians tend to think that they don’t have a power or a say in something. They think that the world will change by itself or by the government.” Another social entrepreneur described it as a psychological block towards change. He said “we need a mental shift that will make people responsible for things that don’t work, instead of relying on the government that does not do enough.”
Another problem identified, is that Belarusians have a big problem selling things or how they view selling items as a form begging. Even if they sell a good product, they still think that they are asking for money.
The biggest stumbling block for social entrepreneurs in Belarus is the trouble of explaining and convincing their family, friends and others that social entrepreneurs is a business with a social mission that reinvests profits back into the organisation.
The second barrier relates to the amount of paperwork and red tape. Many are reluctant to start any enterprise in Belarus because of the big risk of being punished for a minor mistake. “You feel like you are being hunted” is what a social entrepreneur said during the interview. Access to licenses and the required certificates is a major burden for many of the social entrepreneurs interviewed who want to sell a product that is not a souvenir.
Social entrepreneurs indicated a need for entrepreneurial skills
Surprisingly these blocks did not relate to the biggest need of social entrepreneurs. Education and networking possibilities is what social entrepreneurs need most. “Writing a business plan, marketing strategy and most importantly an extensive course in selling, is what we need to develop a social enterprise. With the rest we can deal ourselves” an interviewee answered. Meeting like-minded people was also high on the need’s list. One social entrepreneur explained that interacting with other social entrepreneurs would encourage and motivate him to keep going in times when all seemed pointless.
Creating a social entrepreneurial culture will take time, especially in a country like Belarus, where entrepreneurial aspirations are not well understood or necessarily respected. The first step is to recognize what drives social entrepreneurs and identify the resources they need to succeed. From the voices of the social entrepreneurs we have learned that education is the biggest requirement to make their business successful.
Before looking into the direction of the government or other stakeholders to support social entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurs should prove themselves as an interesting and potential business model for job creation and social and economic growth. Development of an effective education program would be the first step to create powerful and successful examples.
Creative Entrepreneurship in Belarus
Speaking about creative entrepreneurship, it is worth considering this concept in a wider prism – the creative economy and the development of creative industries in the country.
With a high level of human capital, Belarus also has great potential for the development of a creative economy based on knowledge, innovation and creativity. Although official statistics in Belarus do not distinguish creative industry as a separate sector of the economy, data on the dynamics of the development of the market of creative goods and services can be found in international reports.
Today, however, one can state a positive trend, not only in the capital, but also in the regions.
It is really the creation of new jobs (and jobs that can not be robotized soon), the development of tourism, and the efficient use of available resources. This is an area of interaction between culture, business and technology, which, of course, stimulates economic growth.
At the beginning of 2020, an EXAMPLE of outstanding representatives of CREATIVE ENTREPRENEURSHIP and creative industries in Belarus:
1) Oktyabrskaya Street – aka Vulica Brazil – it’s also a “hipster strasse” with street art on the former factory walls, coworking and exhibition spaces and art residences, concert venues inside the factory’s former workshops, a large selection of bars, alternative, wine, vegan cafes, as well as creative hubs (former workshops) and seasonal art venues. The most famous of them: OK16 cultural hub, U gallery of contemporary art, LO-Fi space, DVOR, DANDY land, Hooligan bar and HIDE club – places that you will find today on any guide in fashionable Minsk, which definitely increases the image and tourist potential of the city .
2) The KORPUS cultural center (concert, exhibition, event and educational venue) is also in the former TV factory, and now in its workshops there are an accumulation of various artists’ workshops, showrooms for designers and artisans, shops and studios – each of the owners implements their own creative idea doing so social entrepreneurship including.
3) Festivals such as VULICA Brasil, FSP, SPRAVA fest, BOOK kids, Pasternak, etc., having an annual / biennale format and creatively combining entertainment goals with educational, eco-inclusive social ones, can also be regarded as a separate item.
The whole important EFFECT / RESULT of the development of thinking of the young generation of Belarus towards creative / social entrepreneurship is:
– A rich program of cultural and social events in the life of the city, both one-time and on a regular basis, as well as the demand for such events from the public (there was a place before the Pandemic, of course). However, smaller cities of the country cannot boast of such activity, and here the centralization factor and the point of attraction of all creative actors in the capital of the country can be considered.
– The separation of the creative sector from the state agenda, which is inherent in Belarus and indicates a lag in understanding by the Ministries of Culture and Economics of the impact of creative industries on GDP growth, the number of employees, the reputation of authorities, and the development of cities and communities. A case in point is the Self-organization of independent cultural institutions during a pandemic (forced quarantine and economic crisis) led by the social cultural institution ARTONIST – to save and financially support art and culture at a time when there is no state support for creative industries at all.
Looking into the foggy future and summing up the RESULTS of this review, we can say that the potential for the development of creative entrepreneurship in Belarus undoubtedly exists, but in many respects it depends not only on the motivation of creators, but on conditions, both socio-economic and legislative, as well as intersectoral collaboration and public preparedness for innovation and a new way of thinking.
UK creative industries expert Andrew Erskine recommended Belarus to: use the experience of other countries in which creative industries add value to other sectors. “In your country, the agricultural sector is well developed, why not attract programmers, designers and other representatives of creative industries in order to increase the effect,” he suggested.