In the 1980s, people from IBM came to this Belarusian capital, Minsk, only to find out that it serves as one of the largest IT centers in the U.S.S.R. because of the computer production facilities and design institutes concentrated here. And in those times, it supplied for 60 percent of the U.S.S.R. demand for computer production.
These developments led IBM to expand into the region with a joint venture with two Belarusian companies, Computer Research Institute and the Minsk Computer Production Association to form International Business Alliance (IBA) in 1993. However, the joint venture did not last for too long and IBM soon withdrew as a part owner of IBA.
But the opportunities here still remain largely untapped. Sergei Levteev, President, IBA Group, said, “Our major development centers are in the Republic of Belarus (Minsk and Gomel).” Commenting on the country’s talent pool, he said, “A source of research and engineering talent, the country has been historically an IT supplier for entire Eastern Europe.”
Minsk also serves as the major educational center of Belarus. The city houses a number of higher education institutions, including 12 major national universities (most specializing in certain areas of science and technology).
With an adult literacy rate of 99.7 percent, Minsk produces roughly 3,000 IT–related specialist graduates every year.
Interestingly, leading companies in the IT area like Philips (the Netherlands) establish direct contacts with universities in and around the city, and select few of the best senior students who are later employed by European companies.
Minsk is a modern European city with wide streets, large parks and numerous sites housing as many as two million people. Minsk does not have the "third-world" feeling that many westerners are led to believe.
Those who chose the city for their business say that they are happy with local people, as they are cooperative, hardworking and educated.
Apart from that, foreign investors are granted privileges in areas of export and import, including customs and tax exemptions, and benefits. Salaries are low compared to other neighboring countries like Russia, along with the cost of living, leading to a reasonably good quality of life.
||Belarusian ruble (BYR) (US $1 = BYR 2145)
|International Airports (Minsk)
||Minsk International Airport
|GDP (Official Exchange Rate)
||$28.98 billion (est. 2006)
|GDP Composition by Sector (%)
Source: CIA World Factbook