IT technologies rule the world, so it’s natural that some countries have proclaimed them as a major or, in some cases, even the main catalyst for their growth and technological progress. Among these countries, we should highlight Ukraine, Poland, Hungary, Belarus, and Romania.
In turn, international companies started to pay closer attention to the talent pool these countries potentially have. Which of them has the strongest technological expertise? Where the teams are capable of delivering complex projects of any scope?
The SourceSeek company released a market report where it overviewed the benefits of hiring an outsourced development team from Eastern Europe and Belarus was the country of choice, according to some of the insights.
Belarus, hosting more than 500 IT companies, has a huge potential of providing different outsourcing services for international companies. The talent pool extends rapidly. Approximate numbers are around 4000 new software engineers and other professionals in IT-related fields, graduating every year.
Sales revenue and the total production of the IT field and the industry, in general, amounted to $3.4B in 2018, and with the beginning of Corona time, these numbers doubled. Just to compare: the exports of iT services were experiencing steady growth and were measured at an annual pace of 10%.
Apart from the numbers, figures, and revenues, there’s another proof of Belarus’s being the new source of manpower in IT. The thing is, some Belarusian IT companies were recognized and approved as worthy ones by the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (IAOP). However, some of them were even listed in the Software Magazine’s ranking along with other world's biggest companies.
Trendsetters like Viber, Fitbit, Playtika, IHS, Yandex, WorkFusion, and Juno opened their R&D centers in Belarus. This fact on its own proves the huge potential of the country, not talking about true success stories of such companies like Wargaming, Apalon, Masquerade. These factors were among the ones that lead to the rapid development of the startup ecosystem, as well as to the IT culture development in general.
But what makes Belarus so special that it stands out among the other countries, going the same way? The country is not spotted much on the news feeds of the field, does not’ attract a lot of attention from the community. However, the contribution it makes to the world of innovation and technology speaks louder than words, even though it hides behind the giants of the industry. Let’s consider some facts supporting the point.
High education index
Belarus is among the Former Soviet Union countries that are known for the level of its engineering education, with an overall educational index being 0.8 (and 1 being the maximum).
As it was mentioned, the talent pool extends to 4000 professionals in software engineering every year, excluding the self-taught ones. These 4000 are graduated from 55 universities and other educational establishments. All of them provide this or that IT-discipline, including computer science and so on. Huge companies collaborate with these institutions, allowing students to get not just theoretical, but practical experience and skills before graduation.
IT companies are also interested in new workers, offering courses and internships to the ones, willing to change the field and start their career in IT.
Belarusian developers tend to have excellent Math and analytical skills and are used to resolving challenging tasks. This is the biggest hallmark of Belarusian (and other Eastern European) countries. The secret lies in the fact that Belarusian culture implies high engineering educational standards from early childhood and pays attention to its quality in both the school and university.
Another important point is that Belarusian developers are quite good in English, which is a great advantage for the clients. Many IT companies in Belarus even offer their employees free English courses to ensure every team member understands all aspects of the projects and is able to communicate with the client in a professional manner.
Another point to be mentioned is that Belarus possesses experienced senior professionals, not just the flock of junior and middle ones. The key point here is the stability in the companies, well-balanced workflow, developed and people-friendly ecosystem. Add here low attrition and limited brain drain and you will get the answer, why seniors are that cool in Belarus.
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Strong IT ecosystem
A strong IT ecosystem means a robust and active community and the steady development of an IT industry in the country.
Ukraine, Poland, and Belarus all have strong and profound ecosystems, the strongest ones in the region, which is the result of hard work and many years of building their own IT cultures. Apart from them Moldova and Slovakia are still making their way in this direction. What about Russia? Not surprisingly, the IT ecosystem is strong and diverse there, but it can’t get the highest score on our list because of the insular IT culture nature, having almost zero focus on international cooperation or global goals.
According to the report, there are three main signs of a good IT ecosystem.
Integration between software development companies and universities
In Belarus, there is an excellent integration between companies and educational institutions. There are lots of internship programs, the employers are loyal to the students and do not hesitate to hire them with the aim to provide a start working background for young talents.
As well, the universities regularly hold job fairs to help the students meet the best IT companies and create a win-win situation, where students can potentially find a job and assess the current market demands.
A big number of IT events
In order to constantly master the skills, developers hold events, hackathons, meetups, and conferences on a regular basis.
This helps the community exchange skills and experience, meet colleagues, network, and learn about the latest industry news. As well, the Belarusian conferences are slowly becoming world-class events and attract not only the local community but international visitors too.
Startups and investments
Sure signs of a good IT ecosystem are steady growth of venture capital and the number of local startups – and Belarus has it all!
A favorable and friendly ecosystem for IT startups was created by HTP in Belarus, but its goal was not just to help young companies find investors, but to provide coworking opportunities comfortable enough for substantial growth. Another player on the Belarus startup scene is Angels Band. Cyril Golub, a member of the company’s board, shared the information according to which there are more than 80 members in the network with a pipeline of over 200 startups. And, more importantly, this number increases by 12 projects on average every month. Angels Band hosts pitch sessions, inviting startups, focused on AI, ML, AR/VR, big data, and blockchain.
There’s yet another factor, explaining the Belarus phenomenon as a new regional IT capital. Local IT companies obtained a specific business environment and the field was stimulated greatly when Belarus Hi-Tech Park appeared. The resident companies bring 25000 professionals in total. The HTP resident companies are exempt from the range of taxes, including VAT and land ones. In 2020 Belarus has listed as the 37th country in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business. It is 26 positions higher compared to the same list in 2016.
Quality of services
Belarus is known and recognized for the outstanding quality of IT services. According to the study, the average number of years of experience for a Belarusian developer is 10, which puts Belarus in third place among the countries with the most experienced specialists.
Culture and approach towards work
It is vital that your developers are enthusiastic, attentive to details, and ready to dedicate some time to come up with an innovative solution.
Belarus has it all. The study emphasizes that Belarusian developers are “a strong mix of reliability, assertiveness, stability, and quality” – and these are the skills that most clients look for.
More and more companies started acknowledging the importance of soft skills for software developers. This is another reason why Eastern European countries dominate the market – European developers tend to be very proactive and creative when it comes to task solving.
Geographical location: good enough to become an advantage
Belarus is located in the middle of Europe, literally. It means it covers one of the most favorable time zones, GMT+3. Such a time zone allows collaboration with a lot of countries, including even the west coast of the US and some countries in Asia. The important fact is the close location to the main European capitals. To reach most of them takes 3 hours at most. Being business-oriented, Belarus visa regulations allow 30-day visa-free entry, making business flow smoother.
Of course, it is a huge mistake to select the company based on the price. But the money has to be counted, and it is the main reason why companies tend to hire remote teams and web agencies. In these terms, Eastern Europe is an advantage, especially in comparison to the other regions, offering to outsource development services.
The key point is the average rate - $39.00/hour, which is much lower than the one in Western Europe, North America, or Oceania. If we compare Eastern Europe to Asia, for example, Eastern Europe tends to charge a bit more – about $28-40/hour.
The reason why Eastern Europe commands premium rates is the better quality and higher metrics, including ROI.
Considering Eastern Europe’s average hourly rate by country, for some regions higher rates are due to the type of work, dominating the IT ecosystem. The best example is countries like Czech Republic, Hungary, and Romania. They have been destinations for huge companies for a long time and it resulted in the ecosystem’s leaning to reading huge development centers and working with the enterprise companies.
It differs and even contrasts in a way with the regions oriented to startups, where the companies work mostly with profit shares, equity deals, stock options, and so on. These regions historically have the lowest hourly rates. For example, Moldova, being at the very bottom, has the lowest prices in the region, which are around $20/hour. One of the possible reasons for the situation is the huge brain drain and sluggish economy of the country. So it simply can't claim its place in the Eastern European market of software development. And even there there are a lot of skilled developers, so the buyers can find good deals there too.
Belarusian software development is on the rise. The country is offering a reliable and high-quality talent pool that consists of experienced developers who are ready to go the extra mile and come up with the best solution for your project. And, considering the pleasant cost and beneficial location of the country, Belarusian IT services are definitely worth a try.