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Entrepreneurs actively working for the benefit of Belarusian economy countrywide

Best place for your company

Entrepreneurs actively working for the benefit of Belarusian economy countrywide
By Svetlana Devyatkova

Entrepreneurs actively working for the benefit of Belarusian economy countrywide

In the Narovlya District, which suffered greatly from the Chernobyl accident, local entrepreneurs generate 40 percent of tax revenue, while half of all enterprises are privately owned. Accordingly, local authorities have created a commission to govern the development of businesses, including structural subdivisions of the executive committee. Rather than dealing with each official’s office, entrepreneurs can address problems to the commission.

Specialists keen to work at Polesie Furniture Company
Specialists keen to work at Polesie Furniture Company

Yelena Yefimovich, who heads the Economic Department of the Narovlya District Executive Committee, tells us, “Essentially, trade and woodworking are being developed, with construction as a key source of revenue. Recently, a furniture company launched successfully and a firm is now rendering cargo transportation services. Entrepreneurs are renting empty lots; this year, through auction, they acquired ownership of three buildings. For a long time, the empty Woodworking Integrated Plant seemed unpromising — situated 9km from the border of Polesie’s State Radiation and Ecological Reserve. However, about four years ago, the abandoned site became attractive to business partners Boris Geller and Alexander Kashevich. They revived the enterprise, generating income for the local budget, and providing steady, well-paid work for many residents.”

Mr. Geller, co-founder of the Polesie Furniture Company, underlines, “I have a rather strict, authoritarian management style but people tend to stay with our enterprise as we offer good working conditions and fair wages by local standards.”

The Sixth Decree of the President influenced the decision to open the business in the little town, as it offers privileges, including those relating to tax contributions, aimed at promoting start-ups in rural areas. In spite of experience and an established clientele, the two businessmen began from scratch, employing four men initially, and renting a single room. They bought expensive Italian equipment direct, without intermediaries, and paid by instalments over four months: using a 30 percent deposit, and a foreign currency loan at a rate of just under 13 percent. They requested assistance from the authorities, which resulted in the state refunding half of the interest. Local experts at the Council for the Support of Entrepreneurship helped to write a business plan, and provided technical support.

Mr. Geller continues, “When we began using our new equipment, workforce productivity increased by more than 300 percent, and wages by 200 percent.” Currently, more than 30 people are employed and profitability stands at 16-20 percent. Any problems are solved quickly. For example, in August, the enterprise applied for an extra 200 square metres of production space; the local commission met within the week and the issue was solved. Mr. Geller has sought out state programmes in support of entrepreneurship, having ‘done his research’. One such is the state programme for the support of small and medium-sized enterprises for 2013-2015. Regional programmes, under which funds are allocated, are being elaborated, including authorities reimbursing businessmen for expenses incurred in attending trade fairs, or in taking out business improvement loans. They also provide legal and methodological support.

The Gomel Region currently boasts over 10,000 private organisations and more than 28,000 entrepreneurs. The Deputy Director of the Entrepreneurship Department, of the Economic Committee, within the Gomel’s Regional Executive Committee, Yuri Osipkov, emphasises, “We hold second place among the country`s regions for our number of small enterprises, and for budget revenue. Entrepreneurs have already paid Br2.6 trillion into the budget this year: up 4 percent on 2013.”

The Gomel Region has seven centres and one incubator for the support of small enterprises, and has given advice and support in more than 10,000 instances. Important issues are discussed once or twice monthly, at the Council for Development and Support of Entrepreneurship. In every district, commissions meet to help the development of entrepreneurship and the launch of new production enterprises.

This year, the Republican Confederation of Entrepreneurship called the Gomel Region ‘The Best Region for Business’, following a contest in which entrants were judged by their share of industrial output, tax contributions, regional export share, infrastructure in support of entrepreneurship, and investments into business. The national budget for next year is set to see state support for entrepreneurship rise five-fold, according to the Deputy Director of the Entrepreneurship Department, at the Economy Ministry, Piotr Arushanyants.
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