With its modest population of 9.9 million, Belarus hosts the largest and most established European IT outsourcing providers to the east of Germany.
The country’s strength is rooted in its mature technical infrastructure and reputable educational system inherited from Soviet times when Belarus used to manufacture over 50 percent of the computers and computer components in the former USSR. A lot of programmers in Belarus have participated in scientific R&D projects for the military, energy and other industries of the former Soviet Union. Belarus is among the few countries in the world whose specialists have been involved in construction of space stations, global communication systems, and nuclear development projects.
According to the Human Development Report 2005 of the United Nations Development Program, Belarus remains the leader among CIS states in terms of education and takes the lead over a number of developed countries on such indicators as public expenditure on education (6 % of GDP), adult literacy (99.6 %) and youth literacy (99.8 %). There are 58 colleges in Belarus and over 46 thousand graduates annually. 48-50% of the graduates are students of IT and
technical universities, that is over 23 thousand new IT and technical specialists annually.
Geographical and cultural proximity to the EU is also important. Minsk is within a two and a half hour flight from Frankfurt, and one hour after landing you can already be at our office. Lennart Jakobsson, CEO and Owner of Swedish high tech company Litcon Invest AB, says Belarus exceeded his expectations when he came there for the first time: “I met many Belarusian businessmen and IT professionals and was amazed by how easy it was to communicate with them. They are really willing to cooperate and, most importantly, they get things done in a fast and proper manner,” he says. Now Jacobsson is considering setting up a software company of his own in Belarus.
Multinationals such as Bosch, Coca-Cola, 3M, Deloitte & Touche have established their offices in Belarus long ago while Alcatel, Ericsson, Karl Zeiss and MAN formed joint-ventures with local companies.
Maintaining high standards of personnel motivation and compensation is also important, as high wages in the West are seductive to Belarusian programmers. To keep the attrition rate low, the companies introduce measures ranging from providing social packages and stock options to organizing sports activities for their staffs.
The Belarusian government has recently announced an ambitious goal to boost the country’s IT services export to 4 percent of that of India by 2008.