Why choose Belarus as a nearshore development location?
“We spent a lot of time researching the different geographical locations. We were after an economy that was still developing but had the right macro-economic factors – the right political environment, the right policies that were favourable towards us. And I’m glad to report that since we’ve been working with Godel, Belarus as an economy has opened up its visa programme and there’s been a significant amount of investment in the universities and its transport. We made the right decision in terms of choosing Belarus.”
Akeel Ahmed, Co-founder and CTO, Intelliflo and a Godel customer.
In the former Soviet Union, Belarus was chosen as the place where investment would be made in technology skills. Minsk, the capital of Belarus, is the tech hub, and there’s been over 50 years of investment. There are approximately 40,000 graduates per annum in computing, maths, economics, law and other disciplines that join the IT industry. This number graduate from around 61 universities – 14 of which are dedicated solely to technology. Godel has operated its software development centres of excellence there for the last 15 years, currently employing over 850 people.
Nearshoring software development means that communications technology is critical for to success. Installing high definition video conferencing for all clients onsite for free means in-house development teams can have direct conversations in English in real time every day with people in Belarus. In the summer there’s just a two-hour time difference between the UK and Minsk, and three hours in winter. Belarus works well for software developers, as they’re happy to get up later and work later into the evening – so the model and time difference fits nicely.
As a high-tech business, Godel makes good use of technology to make its nearshore model work harder. At any one time it has around £300,000 of video-conferencing kit out with clients – but it’s key to making the business work. It demonstrates to clients that it’s a technology company and high-quality engineers expect a certain level of technology to work with. The business has also invested heavily around cloud – around £500,000 in the last twelve months. Godel’s email systems are in the cloud, as are its source control systems and the project-tracking systems the developers use. It has also invested in cloud-based video-conferencing systems to support clients’ remote-working employees.
Belarus has invested heavily in attracting business to the region too – it extended its visa-free travel for tourists from 5 to 30 days in order to attract more visitors to the former Soviet republic. A decree signed by President Alyaksandr Lukashenka entered into force in August 2018 and means that anyone visiting the country flying in and out of Minsk’s main airport can do so without a visa and stay for up to 30 days. Whilst direct flights to the UK are increasing in numbers and take just three hours.