IT business in Belarus
Belarus, where the government is committed to building an IT-country, is one of the most comfortable places for IT-business. The sphere of information technologies plays a leading role in the economy. The Belarusian legislation is the first in the world to regulate cryptocurrencies, it provides a number of the significant privileges for startups. The most important law is the Presidential Decree “On Building a Digital Economy”.
The breakthrough in the export of IT products and services was started by such Belarusian companies as Viber, Wargaming, developed the products that attracted everyone’s attention. The Wargaming Company received an income of more than USD 200 million after the release of World of Tanks in 2012.
In 2005, Belarus established the Hi-Tech Park (HTP), an economic zone with a special tax and legal regime in force until January 1, 2049. The purposes of creation of the HTP were carrying out software development, new and high technologies, attraction of investments in this sphere, improving competitiveness of economic sectors.
The residents of the HTP in November 2018 are 388 companies providing services to customers from more than 67 countries. Among them are such companies as EPAM, Viber, ISSoft, Apalon, Playtika, MapDate, Masquerade, JUNO LAB, the Belarusian Representative Office of Yandex, etc. In 2017, the income of all the HTP residents exceeded USD one billion.
To conduct IT-business in Belarus is possible both being and not being a resident of the HTP.
To obtain the status of the HTP resident it is necessary:
1. To create a legal entity (LE). Legal address can be outside the territory of the HTP, the size of the authorized fund does not matter.
2. To submit to the administration of the park a business project which contains:
-a type of activity;
-the specific activities for its implementation;
-the expected results of financial and economic activities.
The list of activities that give grounds to become a resident of the HTP, established by the legislation. Among them are such spheres as nano electronics; radio navigation, cryptographic protection of information, unmanned vehicle control, contactless technologies for cashless payments, creation, training of neural networks, biotechnologies, space technologies, the Internet of things, activities in the field of cryptocurrency; Esports.
3. To conclude an agreement on the conditions of the resident’s activity.
The resident-companies of the HTP have the following benefits:
1. Tax benefits: exemption from the income (profit) tax; value added tax; land tax for the period of construction (3 years); real estate tax (in the territory of the HTP); income tax is paid at a reduced rate of 9%.
The foreign organizations not operating in Belarus through a permanent representation are also exempt from income tax in respect of the certain types of activities; the dividend rate is applied at the rate of 5 %.
The resident-companies of the HTP deduct 1% from income for the previous quarter to the administration of the park.
2. Customs preferences: exemption from the import customs duties (taking into account international obligations of the Republic of Belarus) and value added tax when importing technological equipment.
3. In the monetary sphere:
they can make transactions via smart-contracts, access to digital wallets, change electronic money without the required agreement with the bank;
they can open accounts in foreign currency outside the Republic of Belarus, buy foreign currency without permission of the National Bank;
they can carry out by notification the foreign exchange operations related to capital movement;
foreign currency is not under mandatory sale.
4. The residents are not subject to the legislation on the procedure and control of foreign trade operations.
5. A simplified accounting system is used for transactions with non-residents.
6. It is not required to obtain special permits for the right to work by foreign citizens, to attract foreign labor. It is established visa-free entry to the Republic of Belarus, departure from the Republic of Belarus.
The business incubator of the HTP, providing practical support to start-up companies, operates in Belarus. A competition is held for placement in a business incubator, for participation in the competition it is necessary:
to be a registered legal entity, an individual entrepreneur of Belarus not more than three years;
not to have debts to the budget and comply with the HTP by type of activity;
to develop own products;
to have the ability to implement scalable and potentially profitable activities;
to have entrepreneurial experience or experience in the implementation of projects in the chosen direction.
The companies receive the preferential rent of offices, expert information support from well-known businessmen.
The business incubator develops special innovative IT environment on the basis of co-working what is space for communication, training, exchange of ideas and joint creative work. Hackathons are held on its base – the marathons of developers.
In Belarus, much attention is paid to the training of IT personnel.
In 2010, the educational center IT-Academy of the HTP was opened to train specialists for international IT-companies, for the resident-companies of the HTP in such areas as software development, software testing, web-design, business analysis. IT-Academy is the winner of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum. Annually 1500 specialists are issued.
The most prestigious university where the majority of specialties are related to IT is the Belarusian State University of Informatics and Radioelectronics.
The Belarusian State University trains IT-specialists at 4 faculties, including the Humanitarian Faculty.
The Belarusian State Technological University also pays attention to technologies. The most popular specialty is “Information Technology Software”.
The Belarusian National Technical University is the only university in Belarus where specialists in the field of robotics are trained.
The Academy of Public Administration under the aegis of the President of the Republic of Belarus provides managerial knowledge to work with information systems in the retraining program.
Belarusian State Economic University has specialties “Economic Cybernetics” and “Economic Informatics”.
IT specialists are also trained in the regional universities.
In 2017, more than 115 thousand of IT specialists worked in Belarus, 30 thousand of them in the HTP.
Belarus opens wide opportunities for IT-business, being the first state in which blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies are regulated, there is a wide legal base; the government supports the IT sphere; a favorable tax policy and high-quality training of IT-personnel are carried out.