For Belarus, its people, and its businesses, 2020 is appearing to be even more dramatic and hard than for most other countries.
With COVID denial on a governmental level, fierce violence and severe repressions against peaceful protests after the elections in August, and revolution flaring up for months since then, it might be hard to imagine how business can survive in such an environment.
But Celadon has made it, and more than that, we even managed to grow by 30% during this challenging year. In this article, we’re going to briefly tell you our story.
Unlike in many other countries, the government support provided to people and businesses in Belarus was equal to zero. In fact, the authoritarian president of the country publicly denied the danger of this global threat.
We must say here that the modern population in Belarus are generally well-educated, thoughtful, kind, and active people. Indeed, a great number of voluntary organizations were formed very quickly and started to help hospitals, gather funds, and help sick people and their families. People were wearing masks, using antiseptics, and moving to remote work whenever they could, all these without any regulation from the government — just from their own initiative and understanding of the global situation. This incredible self-organization and independent ability will be of great use for Belarus’ people and businesses throughout this year.
We at Celadon, together with most of the IT companies, were among the first to convert to remote work in March. But unlike many IT companies, we didn’t cut a single salary or fire anyone out of the fear of uncertainty or global economic failure. We reviewed many of our business approaches, corrected our services for the clients to better fit their needs in view of the pandemic situation, and even managed to hire new team members during that time.
During the summer, the desire for change in society was steadily growing. It resulted in huge peaceful protests against another falsified election result. Illegitimate governments attempted to suppress it with unprecedented brute force. I wrote about the terrible violence applied to peaceful people during the first days of protests more in detail on my LinkedIn page, which can be found here.
In a senseless attempt to hide the information, the government shut down the internet in the country for three terrible days, starting from the election day. As if anything can be hidden in such a way in the modern world.
It’s important to remember that we’re talking about quite a developed country located in Europe, meaning all of society was totally shocked. It was absolutely clear that there was no way Belarusian people could accept the total injustice and extremely disproportionate violence. As a result, an incredibly dramatic, persistent yet peaceful revolution has been flaring up in the country since then.
So, what challenges are facing and how are we dealing with them?
It is impossible to focus on a job or task when you’ve been witnessing things like stun grenade exposures all night.
Some would think it would be absolutely useless trying to work those days, however, we are a business and we are responsible for our projects’ progress, meaning we could not let our clients down.
So, right after the first night of terrifying events we gathered in our office, discussed the situation, expressed support for each other, and agreed to move a few next working days and make the job some weekend later instead.
Of course, the internet shutdown couldn’t stop us; we’re an IT company, so we set up a channel bypassing the block very quickly to support the most sensitive connections.
The news thread has been updating every few minutes for months since then, and these pieces of news are vital for us all. It was very important to organize the work in a way that meant we were not totally distracted by it.
We made a tradition to gather near the cooler at certain times throughout the day, to read and discuss the news. We found this quite useful for stress reduction too.
The protests in Belarus were purely peaceful. The protesters burned not a single shop window was broken and not a single car. Yet the suppression from the police and special forces was still brutal and merciless. Many of us are now doing what we can to support the victims of the repressions. Some of us were detained at least once.
The most incredible thing was that our team was sharing the same common values, and it is important in times like these, to have such supportive people surrounding you. It helps to defeat the main enemy — fear. The feeling of unity in front of the common threat can mobilize people in amazing ways. It makes all of us greater and provides us with the energy to perform better in any activity.
Solidarity is a very rare and globally underestimated feeling. When you support and when you’re supported, you are also gaining new friends and contacts, both personally and within the business. It’s amazing how people are willing to help each other during the hardest times. We’re hoping to bring these habits to the better future that will come very soon, and make our common contribution to the explosive country development that will happen.
To sum up, what has helped us make it through these hard times is that we’ve become a much more close-knit and effective team than ever. We are not relocating, we are not going to close, we are keeping the faith.
One of the most popular slogans in Belarus now (you can hear it everywhere around) is ‘One for all and all for one’, and we are truly proud to rightfully apply it to our team.
Finally, I would like to express my great gratitude to all of our clients for their great trust, for without you, we would never make it.