From Denmark to Belarus — A Personal Experience of Business

emerging europe belarus outlook ebrd

Read the Outlook on Belarus special report

.

Morten Munk

About Morten Munk

Morten Munk is Honorary Consul of Ukraine to Denmark and CEO of Mafcon, an international consultancy firm specialising in planning and implementing outsourcing and offshoring tasks, with offices in Minsk, Belarus, Lviv, Ukraine and Aarhus, Denmark. Morten is originally from Denmark. He has a BSc in production from the Engineering College of Copenhagen and he also attended courses at international business schools.

My very first encounter with any of the post-Soviet countries took place in the late 1970s, or in the middle of the Cold War, if you will. Back then I worked for a multinational company driving their business in the Soviet Union. I had no idea my Eastern European experience will be so useful in my future career. In 1989, I got my first assignment to relocate a manufacturing unit to Central and Eastern Europe, namely from Denmark to Poland. This project was followed by others. Out of over 100 projects, about 70 are in Ukraine but I also have a wide experience in Belarus.

I can say that all post-Soviet countries (apart from three Baltic States) are deeply rooted in their Soviet heritage. The administrative structures inherited from those times are still in place today: massive paperwork and complex sets of rules.

Investors will encounter the same challenges throughout the region, but having learned your lessons in Russia or Ukraine, Belarus seems surprisingly easier, less complex, less adversarial and a little more predictable than the two other countries. However, bureaucracy is not the same as corruption and here’s where Belarus looks better than the other two countries. It is not an issue when it comes to administration.

At first glance, it is a neat, orderly place with street lights on, shops that are full of goods, excellent cafes and restaurants, nice hotels, etc.; which is something not everyone imagines Belarus to be. In addition, the Belarusians’ social conventions are rather similar to the Nordic countries.

When doing business here, we always got in contact with what would prove to be, during the project period, a very competent, knowledgeable and capable administration. Here we found the right facilities where conditions were favourable when you look at political stability and geographic location. Having said that, I believe the impact of political factors needs to be kept in mind.

What is my largest project in Belarus? Well, in 2013, the management of Danish Salling Plast went to for Belarus to find a suitable location for a factory that could supply high-end technology using the much lower labour costs to be found in the CIS region inside the Eurasian Customs Union and a common set of norms and standards. They were interested in the once laudable district heating system, which was snow facing an investment backlog of more than $50 billion. We always knew that if we were to succeed in the region, we had to get established in a Russian-speaking country. 

This was Belarus. Here we found the right facilities, where conditions were favourable from the viewpoint of political stability and geographic location. In October 2015, we completed a 7,000 sqm production and 45,000 sqm storage facility in Orsha; an investment of €3 million, including all the paper work. 

I strongly advise you to come to Belarus and see the country with your own eyes. As much as arriving in Belarus may come as a surprise for those who have never done business in the country before, one should not be mistaken. The country still requires restructuring, a lot of knowledge and hard work in order to succeed but it does offer opportunities.

(*photo: courtesy of Salling Plast Production)

_______________

The views expressed in this opinion editorial are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Emerging Europe’s editorial policy.

RELATED ARTICLES

Winds of Change for Belarus’ Reinsurance Industry?

Feel the Vibe of the City of Minsk

Trinity suburb in Minsk (Nemiga) Belarus on 20 May 2017

Veni, Vidi, Vici, Or My Personal Experience of Doing Business in Belarus

The Proof of a Country’s Readiness to Attract Foreign Investors Lies in the Development of the Insurance Market

Belarusian Economy on a Diet to Change its Financial Outlook

Business Mentors Helping to Solve Business Development Problems First

Portrait of confident business people interacting in the office

Emerging Europe and the EBRD host the Outlook on Belarus conference in London

Germany Is Not Letting Belarus’ Small Downturns Put it off Looking for Investment Opportunities

Falling Student Numbers and Declining R&D Result From Lack of Funds

Belarus Is Making the First Steps onto the International Finance Floor

Encouraging SME’s Development Will Help Build Belarusian Economy

“e-Belarus”: Embracing the Internet and its Possibilities

UK Shores: the New Frontier, a View on a Series of Fortunate Events

Belarusian Economic Recovery May Downgrade Intended Reforms for Competitiveness

Young Well-Paid IT Specialists Are Making Belarus Known Internationally

Emerging Europe Live: Life in Belarus As Seen by Foreigners

Italy and Belarus: A Relationship Based on Complementarities and History

Belarus Serves up Some Recipes for Success

Business in Belarus Recipe Book

Belarus and the EBRD:
Working to Expand the Country’s Strengths and Success

The Belarusian Financial Sector: An Industry in the Process of Restructuring

OECD: Belarus Has to Find Its Own Belarusian Model to Emerge

Bringing Belarus’ Cultural Past to Life for Belarusians and the World

Belarus Has Set an Example for Others to Follow

Belarus 2020: Turning the Vicious Circle Into an Upward Spiral

The Country Shows Promise but Needs Some Reforms

Belarus’s Election Tests the EU’s Global Strategy

Germany and Belarus: Thinking Globally Acting Locally

Belarus: MOST Builds a Bridge to the Future

Belarus Is One of the Top Outsourcing Destinations of 2016

Belarus Is Where the New Silk Road Heads For Europe

A Strategic Asset for Regional Growth and Development in the EU

Pier bridge crane and cargo handling cargo trains transported away.

EBRD Emerging Europe Outlook on Belarus 2016

Belarus Is Ready to Begin With Venture Capital Investments

HTP: Belarus’ Engineers Are Leading a Cool Revolution

Will European Business and Institutions Bolster the New Trends That Have Appeared in Belarus?

Belarus Has To Make an Extra Effort To Change Investors’ Perceptions

Belarus’ Economy Is Slowly Recovering From Past Declines

Long-time Neighbours Need to Share Awareness, Plus Trade & Investment

Office Space Vacancy is Currently Low but Building Standards Cause Concern

Minsk Belarus - March 23 2017 modern architecture business center Pokrovsky on Pobediteley Avenue editorial

The Belarusian Economy: The Challenges of Stalled Reforms

Business Opportunities in Belarus Encourage Outside Interest

The EU Is Encouraging Belarus to Join the World Trade Organisation

Belarusian Tech Companies Lead a Global Technological Advance in Outsourcing and Product Development

Outsourcing in Germany: Stop Talking at and Start Talking to

The Reality Is More Interesting Than the Misconceptions

Belarus: Changing Old Ideas And Mixing With the New in Belarus’ Export Market

A New Modern Mall Hopes to Draw Belarusians Back to the Home Market

RRY Capital

Rolling Sales Procedures Together so Everyone Succeeds

Coworkers

The Belarusian Banking Sector Moving Towards Modernisation Despite Some Challenges

The Shopping Experience Is Set To Go Global in Belarus from 2017 Onwards

The Eurasian Economic Union Fails to Bring Belarus Closer to Big Brother

Brexit Makes Waves Across the European Union and Beyond

Using Words to Paint a Picture – Belarus’ Nobel Prize Winning Novelist

The UK and Belarus: A Partnership to Introduce the Real Belarus to Europe

Brexit Is a Great Opportunity to Attract Foreign Investors to Belarus

Belarus: On the Way to a Market Economy?

While the EU Makes Plans for CEE China Makes Investments

Nuclear Security Summit In Washington, 2016

Belarus and Singapore Share the Same Factors for Economic Success

Belarus US Business Relations Thrive as Conditions Improve

Minsk International Airport Widens its International Reach

Belavia

FocusEconomics: Belarusian Economy to Grow in Q4 2016 and Onwards

One Belt One Road: a Big Task for Europe

Foreign Investors: Belarus Offers Opportunities But Further Improvements Are Needed

The EU’s Benign Neglect of Eastern Europe

The Deep Roots of Currency Crises in the Former Soviet Union

IMF Believes State-Owned Enterprises Must Be Reformed

Image of the banknotes of new Belarusian banknotes five rubles put into circulation July 1 2016

The Great Stone Industrial Park — Making Doing Business Easy in Minsk

Why Is Belarus Tech Booming?

Innovation Brings Great Opportunities to the Belarusian Economy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *