As Think Data Insights has been experiencing its own significant growth, we have had some great opportunities to share our experiences in different and unique settings.  Last month, I had an amazing opportunity to travel to the city of Minsk, Belarus, to provide leadership and business networking principles to small business leaders and entrepreneurs.  Our mission was clear and simple:

  1. Build a grassroots networking group for business leaders looking to take their business to the “next level.”
  2. Provide group and 1:1 coaching for leaders who are looking to get “unstuck” in their current business challenges.

During my trip to Belarus, I had the privilege of being accompanied by a team of three other professionals:

  • Alex Helton – Owner of the Helton Group, a residential real estate group
  • David Atchison – A commercial real estate leader with Colliers International
  • Rob Dixon – Owner of Servpro Belle Meade, one of the fastest growing and more successful Servpro franchises in Tennessee

The country of Belarus has been diligently pursuing economic reforms that is now opening the door to new and exciting business growth opportunities.  As one of the top 10 countries in growth of business-friendly reforms, Belarus made drastic changes and adopted notable reforms making it easier to operate a business.  Around infrastructure, it streamlined the process of obtaining electricity connections by establishing a one-stop shop at the utility which provides all connection-related services, including the design and construction of the distribution line.  The transparency and reliability of the land administration system was also improved, making it easier to transfer property.  Today, it takes only three days and two procedures for companies to register a property, placing Belarus in the 5th position globally on the Registering Property indicator.

Belarus’ startup scene has changed significantly in the past few years.  The ecosystem in the country has been fortunate to be able to skip some development phases, partially modeling itself on more established startup hubs to develop quickly. There were and continue to be several positive and dynamic developments in the ecosystem, including emergence of new coworking spaces, startup education programs and an increasing number of startup events. Two examples include the Belarus Hi-Tech Park and Great Stone Industrial Park.

Hi-Tech Park was established with the main goal to support the software industry, by providing a special business environment for IT business with incentives unprecedented for European countries.  Since 2015, Hi-Tech Park resident-companies involved in new science-intensive activities or IT and related industries, can apply for residency and benefit from tax-incentives and other advantages it provides.  These companies can then work and provide services in the field of information system analysis, designing and software development.

The partnership between China and Belarus known as Great Stone Industrial Park is a territorial entity with a special legal status conducive to conducting business.  The land, comprising of over 22,000 acres, is located 25 km from Minsk, the capital of the Republic of Belarus, in a unique natural complex.  It is currently planned for living areas, offices and shopping malls, financial services, and research centers.  While onsite at the Great Stone complex, our team had the opportunity to share some business and leadership principles to a group of Great Stone staff members.

This is our team’s second year in Belarus, and this year was unique in that we were able to launch Next Level, a networking group built for small business leaders and entrepreneurs.  While in Minsk, we conducted two individual meetups, with a total attendance of about 60 people.  We plan to conduct follow-up remote meetings each quarter to continue to provide mentoring and leadership coaching this community is seeking.

Turning my attention back home, I am very grateful for the growth opportunities presented to business leaders and owners in the Nashville market.  And I want to keep giving back where I can here, as I know so many who have given to me along the way.