29 October 2020

M4EG Pioneer Project supports entrepreneurship and innovational startups development in Glubokoye district (Belarus)

Glubokoye District (population 37,300) of Vitebsk Region, Belarus, joined the Mayors for Economic Growth (M4EG) Initiative on May 26, 2017, and is presently an Acting member of the Initiative. The administration of the district took part in a competition held by the European Union in the framework of this Initiative and won a grant to implement the project "Creation of Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovations Promotion and Support in Glubokoye District, Vitebsk Region, Belarus".  

Despite the relatively high level of human, social and entrepreneurial potential of Glubokoye District, there are indicators of challenges in the development of business activities in the region. Thus, the number of individual entrepreneurs in Glubokoye District decreased from 912 in 2014 to 794 in 2018. The number of the unemployed, who applied for the state financial support to open their own business decreased from 8 persons in 2013 to 2 persons in 2018. 

The research conducted by the partner organisations (see next paragraph), identified three root causes of these problems: lack of legal, consulting, informational and media support for local SMEs to promote their local initiatives; insufficient knowledge in legal and economic matters; and a passive attitude towards self-employment and the creation of new jobs in the local community. These findings defined the overall project goal and the corresponding Pioneer project proposal was elaborated.

In 2019, the Glubokoye District Executive Committee, together with three partners – the P.M. Masherov Vitebsk State University, the Glubokoye District Council of Deputies and the local "Centre for Promotion  of Development of the Territory of Ozerny Region” Fund - started implementing the 3-year project "Creation of Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovations Promotion and Support in Glubokoye District, Vitebsk Region, Belarus".  

The preparatory phase of the project implementation was taking place throughout year 2019.

In order to promote the new Centre, on October 25, 2019, the project team conducted the “Development – Support – Innovation Forum” in Glubokoe town. It became a platform for communication between entrepreneurs, the leadership of Glubokoye District, the Centre's staff and EU representatives, as well as for exchange of experience between the three regions participating in the Pioneer projects of the EU Mayors for Economic Growth Initiative. The Forum is expected to be held annually.  

The results of the survey conducted by the Centre’s team, and other sources indicated the need for the Centre to function as a training system for SMEs. The Centre is also expected to provide legal, consulting and information support, expand opportunities for development of legal and economic general knowledge, entrepreneurial skills, stimulate self-employment, and create jobs. All the above was taken into account when drawing up the Centre’s work plan.

By the second half of 2019, a competitively selected team began their work at the Centre: workplaces were organised for activities of the office for support of start-up projects, the office for promoting SMEs and the School of Business, Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Equipment was installed and technical means were provided. 

The territorial location of the structural divisions of the Centre was strategically chosen to expand the coverage of assistance in training, promotion of products and services. Thus, the Office for Support of Start-up Projects and the Office for Promoting the Development of SMEs have been set up in the building of the Glubokoye Regional Executive Committee. The Glubokoe District Library is home to the newly-established School of Business, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and the premises of 13 village councils have been equipped for distance learning, offered by the School.

The Centre's specialists underwent training in Rezekne, Latvia, and visited the team of the Pioneer project “Creation of Regional Center for Business Information and Support for Gagauzia Autonomous Territorial Unit of the Republic of Moldova” to  exchange experience.

Offices to support start-up projects and promotion of development of SMEs started off with conducting a competition for the best innovative business idea and the best business project. From September 2019 to July 2020, 11 persons applied to the Centre with their ideas. Three winners were selected, who will receive comprehensive support and advice helping them to bring their projects to life. The competition is planned to be held annually.

In February 2020, the School of Business, Entrepreneurship and Innovation opened its doors. 

Classes are held in well-equipped classrooms both on- and offline. School secretaries register students, and maintain journals of attendance for offline classes and electronic registration on the “Classroom” platform. 

The School teaches the basics of entrepreneurship, legal literacy, information technology, e-business, and foreign languages. Currently, 75 persons are undergoing training. Education at the School of Business, Entrepreneurship and Innovation is free, its students are residents of the city of Glubokoe and rural settlements, pupils of the State Vocational Education Lyceum, and start-up entrepreneurs.   

In order to promote the development of social and innovative entrepreneurship, handicrafts and activities in the field of agro-ecotourism, the internet platform http://glubokoe-cppi was set up. Its content is currently under development . The internet portal, which also includes a news column, shall serve as a consulting support, a platform for promoting goods and services, and an educational platform that supports distance learning.

The specialists of the Centre assist individual entrepreneurs in promoting goods, works and services, compose advertising texts, develop the design of advertising products, provide consultations on various issues and offer targeted assistance to small businesses in finding local and foreign partners to promote and distribute goods and services. To date, support has been rendered to all 11 contestants for the best business idea, as well as 7 individual entrepreneurs.

The beneficiaries of the Centre share their impressions: 

Igor Telitsa, individual entrepreneur:

“I am an individual entrepreneur, I provide services on installation of monuments. But I don't have enough knowledge and time to promote and advertise my services. I applied to the Centre, where they not only helped me in developing the advertising material, but also provided legal assistance, assisted in calculating the risks related to my business, and helped me boost my business confidence”.

Dmitry Yantsevich, individual entrepreneur:

“The work of the Centre is very convenient for busy people. You can get in touch with the staff of the Centre through messengers and social networks, there is no need to visit the office to place ads. As I sell bicycles during the day and in the evening repair and service them, it is convenient for me to communicate online. The staff of the Centre helped me to prepare advertisements, and advised me on creating my own website. And it's nice that it's free!”

Anastasia, student:

“I study foreign languages at the School of Business. Everything is clear, accessible and convenient. In the future, I plan to work with my father in the family business related to construction, and the knowledge of a foreign language will help me in our business development.”

Elena Zhidko, teacher:

“Our institution participates in the competition for innovative ideas within the framework of the project ‘Creation of Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovations Promotion and Support in Glubokoye District, Vitebsk Region, Belarus’. We have prepared a project ‘Tourist route Vodar Karaboshchyny’, which will allow us to increase the number of tourists and create our own brand of herbal tea, souvenirs with medicinal herbs and perfumery based on natural ingredients. Thus, we will have the opportunity to acquaint tourists with our small homeland, and also to attract extra-budgetary funds for development of our educational institution. Therefore, we also consider ourselves to be participants in this project and believe that we will succeed.”

“We are only half-way in the implementation of the project, but our work has already yielded positive results and will certainly lead to great success, together with the Mayors for Economic Growth Initiative,” says Tatiana Tarasevich, the Deputy Chair of the Glubokoye District Executive Committee. “The project will be completed at the end of 2021. After its completion, we plan to ensure that the Centre continues to provide consulting services and conduct workshops for individual entrepreneurs on a reimbursable basis."

Contact person: Tatiana Tarasevich - Deputy Chairperson of the Glubokoye District Executive Committee, Local Economic Development Officer.

Republic of Belarus, Vitebsk Region, Glubokoe, Lenin St. N42

Tel .: +375297654768, email: tanyatarasevich76@mail.ru


Photo: The “Promotion – Support - Innovation Forum”, City of Glubokoe.


Photo: Office for Support of Start-up Projects and a video conference room in the Korobovsky Village Executive Committee.