EU and UNDP expand support to small business development in Belarus: new project to foster local entrepreneurship, social enterprises and stimulate regional economy

The signing ceremony in Minsk on 13 November

The European Union, United Nations Development Programme and the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Belarus came together yesterday to sign a new project that will support development of entrepreneurship in the regions of Belarus.  This €8 million project is one of the largest ever initiatives of its kind implemented in Belarus and will substantially contribute to SMEs becoming the engine of the Belarusian economy in the years to come. 

Over the next three years the project will support business and social enterprises in all six regions of Belarus breathing significant new economic life into the regional economy. 

In addition to supporting start-ups, the project will support existing economic initiatives, will stimulate competitiveness and innovation across the country by putting people at the centre of their economic future, by tapping into start-up know-how, and by supporting business grants for viable new businesses.  

In Belarus today, small and medium enterprises employ less than a third of the working-age population and account for less than a quarter of GDP; this has considerable scope to grow as the economy diversifies and the full range of Belarusians’ talents are tapped. This project will directly support social and commercial enterprise by creating new jobs and income streams through seed capital and business start-up support.

The project is being funded by the EU under its EU4Business initiative and co-funded and implemented by UNDP in partnership with the Ministry of Economy.  It is fully aligned with the Belarusian Government’s strategies and legislative measures aimed at the development of entrepreneurship and regional development, including the newly adopted ‘Strategy of SME Development until 2030. 

Private sector development, increasing the effectiveness of existing enterprises, improving access to finance and strengthening of corporate governance are priorities identified by experts in the context of localising and implementing the global Agenda 2030 and Sustainable Development Goals in Belarus.  

Private sector and public-private partnerships play an important role in the country’s economic growth, innovation, job creation and building domestic capital for future investments. Responsible businesses and investors are crucial for expanding socially-oriented enterprises and social impact investments which, in addition to commercial viability and profitability criteria, aim also at a positive social and environmental effects.