On September 29 – 30, 2017 New Eurasia Foundation in partnership with Social Business Technologies Establishment and Small Business Incubator “MAP JSC” held a Conference “Expanding Economic Opportunities in Rural Belarus” and Festival of Rural Business “Tutejšaja Haspadarka”. The events finalized implementation of the project “Expanding Economic Opportunities in Rural Belarus” which was launched in 2015 with aim to improve quality of life in rural Belarus.
Conference “Expanding Economic Opportunities in Rural Belarus” was held on September 29 in Minsk and gathered over 100 people from all over Belarus – representatives of the EU Delegation to Belarus, Ministry of the Economy and the Support Programme for Belarus of the Federal Government of Germany, NSA&LA partnerships, businesses, educational establishments and an expert from Ukraine.
Mr. Aliaksei Vavokhin, Project Manager of the Delegation of the European Union to Belarus addressed Conference participants with an welcome speech and told about the priorities of EU assistance to Belarus in the sphere of regional development.
Astrid Sahm, Acting Director of the Dortmund International Educational Center (IBB) and head of the Support Programme for Belarus of the Federal Government of Germany also greeted Conference participants and told about the events of the Sustainable Development Weeks – 2017.
During the plenary session Mr. Petr Arushanyants, Director of the Department of Entrepreneurship at the Ministry of Economy spoke of upcoming legal acts to-be-signed by the President which are designed to eliminate unnecessary administrative barriers and significantly improve conditions for doing small and medium business in Belarus. In particular, the legal acts provide for significant reduction of the types of economic activities that require a license and the licensing authority will be able to withdraw licenses only by a court decision. Decree No. 337 "On the Regulation of Individuals' Activities" dated September 19, 2017 expands the list of economic activities that can be carried out without registering as an entrepreneur. When the new norms will come into effect the handicraft masters will be eligible to advertise their products on the Internet and sell them through a variety of distribution channels, whereas farmstead owners will be able to offer an expanded list of services, including holding festive events. The new legal base allows carrying out of economic activities after a simple notification of the regulating authority, moreover, a list of fire safety, sanitary, epidemiological and environmental requirements will be significantly reduced.
Later on Liudmila Batura, project manager spoke of major outputs and outcomes of the project Expanding Economic Opportunities in Rural Belarus and a guest speaker from the Ukraine – Aleksandr Babiy - told about the problems and prospects of rural development in the Ukraine.
The plenary session was followed by two expert panels: the first one was devoted to the problems and prospects of rural development, the second one discussed results of the implementation of 13 pilot initiatives. The Conference will promote the best practices and success stories of regional development.
Festival of Rural Business “Tutejšaja Haspadarka” was held on September 30 in Kolodoshchy and complemented the Conference with a series of practice-oriented events, where rural entrepreneurs, handicraft masters, farmsteads, representatives of consumer cooperatives and start-up schools, local authorities, CSOs and rural dwellers planning to start own business could exchange their experiences and present own unique business models and products. The following events were held within the Festival: business-meetings and presentations “Consumer Cooperatives in Belarus” and “The Best Foreign and Domestic Practices of Doing Agricultural Business”, eco- workshops with interactive and educational activities for adults and children “Ekamajsterni” and master-classes from rural start-up schools “Fence Braiding using Willow and Sewing Traditional Dolls”. Farm “Ecofania” held a master-class “My Business in the Sphere of Healthy Life-Style “Eco-Ezha” (Eco-Food)” and Farm “Honey Queen” presented their business model which combines traditions and modern trends “Production and Consumption of Products and Beverages Made of Honey Using Traditional Recipes”.
The Conference and Festival were held within the Expanding Economic Opportunities in Rural Belarus project funded by the European Union and co-funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and under the aegis of the Sustainable Development Weeks - 2017 in cooperation with Support Programme for Belarus of the Federal Government of Germany.