Building SMEs Business Resilience: 5 areas of support

UNDP Belarus identified blueprint areas to create an enabling environment for local economic development.

August 16, 2022

Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for 26.4% of country’s GDP, provide jobs for more than 1.1 million people and are key drivers for local business initiatives and economic growth.

Photo: UNDP in Belarus

Competitive, adaptive and innovation-driven businesses help people realize their entrepreneurial dreams and contribute to community development: This is how modern business is understood in Belarus’ 2035 National Sustainable Development Strategy.

The outbreak of COVID-19 challenged SMEs development by disrupting business operations, supply chains and customer relations. In Belarus, 80% of businesses reported negative effects from the pandemic.

UNDP and the Ministry of Economy of Belarus joined efforts to help SMEs recover and rebound in the post-COVID environment through researching, engaging and learning from SMEs across 82 Belarusian districts. We identified interventions that can support business owners on their recovery paths and highlighted five areas that contribute to long-term development priorities set in the State Programme “Small and Medium Enterprises” (2021-2025).

Digital transformation

The UNDP’s work in digital transformation aligns with the national priorities under the State Programme “Digital Development of Belarus 2021-2025” and helps accelerate digitalization of the economy. Fostering digital development compliments the efforts of local and national partners in rethinking the way SMEs produce, deliver, operate, and build customer relations. Keeping in mind the importance of helping businesses to harness digital technologies, we designed the Guidelines on SMEs Digitalization. The Guidelines offer digital solutions providing entrepreneurs with the possibilities of better access to strategic resources, new ways for expanding customer base and more options for smooth integration into new markets, enabling SMEs to capitalize on network effects.

In 2021, UNDP supported 30 digital solutions to deliver business results. A new Digital Map of the Business Support Infrastructure in Belarus brings more than 115 business support centers and business incubators together in a single user-friendly online platform, offering along this also educational and funding opportunities for SMEs.

UNDP also reached out to 519 women entrepreneurs through social media “digital sprints” organized as short sessions with experts in digital business development.

Business communities

Local business communities facilitate partnerships, help entrepreneurs share their business experiences and best practices. UNDP supports 16 cluster initiatives in such areas as agriculture, tourism, food and furniture production across districts. Clusters help create new products, new businesses and new jobs. This is a good chance for local entrepreneurs to work together to increase the added value of their products and services, strengthen regional competitiveness, share resources and explore innovations and digital; solutions.

Mentorship and education

12,000 people have already benefitted from SMEs access to consultancy and educational opportunities. Advisory sessions and educational courses help entrepreneurs to scale up their business knowledge and acquired new skills.

UNDP will launch in 2022 a new mentorship programme to encourage rural women  to start their businesses and develop entrepreneurial communities. The programme will support implementation of the National Action Plan for Gender Equality in Belarus for 2021-2025.

20 “box solutions”, designed by UNDP with the EU support, for small businesses offered practical steps on how to start and develop businesses. Entrepreneurs learn to set business goals and improve business models, plan funds and resources, choose legal framework for business they want to develop.

In 2020-2021, UNDP’s “Business-19” initiative offered free trainings and individual consultations with experts to more than 100 SMEs to adjust their business to the COVID-19 environment and strengthen their resilience. The Business and Career Days invited women to explore new ways to increase resilience of businesses, develop recovery strategies, and accelerate business’ digital transformation.


In 12 Belarusian districts, UNDP helps increase the availability of microfinance services for SMEs. Apart from this, the UNDP Accelerator Lab (AccLab) seeks to support SMEs ambitions in green solutions by improving their access to financing opportunities. Businesses got expert advice on developing the ESG (environmental, social, governance) assessment methodology.

Decreased administrative load

Simplification of administrative procedures for SMEs is an important requirement for local entrepreneurial growth. UNDP developed a methodology to decrease administrative load on SMEs and together with the Ministry of Economy of Belarus applies it to calculate the business complexity indicator for each administrative procedure applied to a business organization or individual entrepreneur. This methodology helps identify administrative procedures that are difficult for business and may require modification or cancellation.

Integrated approach applied by UNDP and partners helps to identify gaps that exist in SMEs policy and institutional support, highlight blueprint areas we can create an enabling environment for local economic development through digitalization, innovative funding, new knowledge, business networking, and decreasing administrative load.