Belarus has strong potential to diversify their economic field it offers an attractive investment climate for foreign businesspeople. Despite the crisis in CIS countries, according to the World Investment Report, 1.6 billion dollars were invested in Belarus in 2015. “Menu Group” CEO Vahan Kerobyan recommends established Armenian businesses that plan to develop outside Armenia to invest in Belarus. Menu Group raised $3 million of investments to continue its expansion into the regions of Armenia, Belarus, and Georgia. And recently the delivery service has come to all regional centers of Belarus.
“Belarus is Eastern Europe's best-kept business secret for foreign investors, it is a gem if you want to expand in Europe. I can give you at least ten reasons why an established Armenian business should invest money in Belarus.”
1. MUTUAL MENTALITY
We have a fairly similar mentality, habits, thoughts, it helps a lot in business. Communication becomes simple when you are negotiating with people who share your values.
2. LACK OF STRONG COMPETITION
Belarus is a country with constantly growing demand and relatively low competition in certain sectors. Due to this, you can quickly enter the market and quite rapidly develop your business. For example, in less than 2 years, Menu.by has had the same amount of sales that Menu.am has done in Armenia, and in Georgia only after 3 years. If you are an innovator and your product is of high quality, Belarus offers a wide range of opportunities with little, and sometimes even non-existent, competition.
3. EDUCATED PEOPLE
Regardless of the industry you enter, agriculture, food and beverages, petrochemicals, insurance, energy, telecommunications and IT, you will find out that you are working with educated people. I became an advertising agent for Belarus, I advised many of my friends from different countries to invest in Belarus. Unfortunately, the potential of this country is underestimated, and the established image does not equal the reality. Practically all those who "risk" to go to Belarus are surprised when they find out that they are dealing with modern public and a country with great potential.
4. REGIONAL EXPANSION
There is excellent potential in Belarus, not only in Minsk but also in the regions. Belarusian regions are a fertile soil for any business. The capital has a population of 1.8 million, and the five regional centers together have - 1.9 million people. Our experience shows that the regions are open to new businesses.
5. E-COMMERCE IS DEVELOPED
This year, as in the past, we were invited to E-commerce Day in Minsk, to make a presentation on "How we changed the delivery market in Belarus." During the conference last year, the number of digital media companies and services was impressive, and this year the event has become even more ambitious. The potential of the online market is huge and it is constantly evolving, customers are more prone to online transactions, which reduces costs. Maps and navigation work much better than in Armenia or Georgia. E-commerce is in full swing and there is no need to change mentality: people know how to buy something on the Internet and do it regularly. In this respect, it is easier to work.
6. DEVELOPING MIDDLE CLASS
In many developed Western European countries, the middle class comprises more than 55% of the population. Meanwhile, in Belarus, according to various estimates, this figure reaches 25-35%, which is a good indicator for post soviet countries. Alos, the level of migration in Belarus is quite low, and incomes are higher than in Armenia.
7. ARMENIANS ARE RESPECTED AND TRUSTED
In Belarus there is a large Armenian community and a well-established Armenian business circle. They always give us a warm welcome when they find out that we are from Armenia. Working in difficult conditions of Armenia, we faced many risks, problems, and in Belarus it is much easier to work, especially in such a warm atmosphere of the market where Armenians are respected and trusted.
8. EURASIAN ECONOMIC UNION
All EEU countries are currently engaged in active diversification of their economies, with emphasis on the implementation of high industrial technology and innovation we can expect an increase in industrial capacity and the region's share in world industrial production. According to CIS experts, Belarus is among the most developed countries in the union. This economic pact gives an enormous opportunity for Armenians to import, export and trade in Belarus with special benefits.
When we started working in Georgia, one of the first difficulties we faced were communication and documentation. To be able to develop our business, there was always a need for knowledge of the local language. In Belarus, the Armenians will not have this problem. The main language of communication and office work is Russian. You definitely will not need an interpreter.
10. HELPFUL PEOPLE
Many people warned me about the bureaucracy in Belarus, but my experience has shown that it’s not as significant. People were kind and very responsive, because they understand the importance of foreign investors and taxpayers, and this is much more important than the complexities of bureaucratic delays. Nevertheless, I advise you to have an experienced Belarusian accountant and a lawyer, who can help you to clearly follow the local legislation.
Summing up my list of recommendations, I can say that a person who was engaged in the business sector of Armenia and was able to achieve the desired result, will be able to work, perhaps, in any country.