From Denmark to Belarus — A Personal Experience of Business

.

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)

RELATED ARTICLES

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

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

The Deep Roots of Currency Crises in the Former Soviet Union

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

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

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

Emerging Europe Live: Life in Belarus As Seen by Foreigners

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

The Reality Is More Interesting Than the Misconceptions

The EU Is Encouraging Belarus to Join the World Trade Organisation

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

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

The Belarusian Economy: The Challenges of Stalled Reforms

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

Belarus: MOST Builds a Bridge to the Future

Belarus Is Ready to Begin With Venture Capital Investments

Brexit Makes Waves Across the European Union and Beyond

Belarus and Singapore Share the Same Factors for Economic Success

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

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

EBRD Emerging Europe Outlook on Belarus 2016

One Belt One Road: a Big Task for Europe

FocusEconomics: Belarusian Economy to Grow in Q4 2016 and Onwards

Outsourcing in Germany: Stop Talking at and Start Talking to

Belarus: On the Way to a Market Economy?

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

Innovation Brings Great Opportunities to the Belarusian Economy

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

Belarus Is Making the First Steps onto the International Finance Floor

Germany and Belarus: Thinking Globally Acting Locally

The Belarusian Banking Sector Moving Towards Modernisation Despite Some Challenges

Why Is Belarus Tech Booming?

Belarus’s Election Tests the EU’s Global Strategy

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

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

Winds of Change for Belarus’ Reinsurance Industry?

Brexit Is a Great Opportunity to Attract Foreign Investors to Belarus

Belarusian Economic Recovery May Downgrade Intended Reforms for Competitiveness

Belarus Is Where the New Silk Road Heads For Europe

Belarus Has Set an Example for Others to Follow

Belarus Is One of the Top Outsourcing Destinations of 2016

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

Encouraging SME’s Development Will Help Build Belarusian Economy

Belarus 2020: Turning the Vicious Circle Into an Upward Spiral

HTP: Belarus’ Engineers Are Leading a Cool Revolution

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

Italy and Belarus: A Relationship Based on Complementarities and History

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

Belarus US Business Relations Thrive as Conditions Improve

Belarusian Economy on a Diet to Change its Financial Outlook

Foreign Investors: Belarus Offers Opportunities But Further Improvements Are Needed

Young Well-Paid IT Specialists Are Making Belarus Known Internationally

Business Opportunities in Belarus Encourage Outside Interest

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

Leave a Reply

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