"In about a week, we have provided consultations to more than 100 Belarusian companies that are seriously considering the possibility of relocating their operations to Latvia. In parallel, these companies are considering other options, so swift action is crucial. We are currently working in close cooperation with the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (PMLP), the Border Guard and financial supervision and other institutions to prepare an appropriate and field-tested roadmap for those entrepreneurs who will decide in favor of what Latvia offers," said Kaspars Rožkalns, LIAA director.
Mikita Mikado, the founder of the company “PandaDoc”, has confirmed to Latvian public media's Russian-language portal rus.lsm.lv, that his company is among those looking into the possibility of a move, pointing out that the Latvian offer is competitive as far as Belarus' flourishing tech scene is concerned.
As previously reported by LSM, LIAA, in cooperation with PMLP and other involved institutions, has established a special team that expedites the processing of applications from Belarusian entrepreneurs. These include the issuance of so-called start-up visas or European Union (EU) Blue Cards or temporary residence permits to highly qualified professionals and their family members.
In total, more than 100 consultations have been provided, and 10 companies have already decided to partially or completely relocate their operations to Latvia.
According to official data, about 1,700 companies work in the ICT sector in Belarus, and their main market is the US. Some Belarusian ICT companies also have offices in Silicon Valley.
"The business of the ICT industry is global and the place it's located is not crucial, so we try to emphasize our advantages. In the case of Belarus, it is the ability to react quickly and offer the necessary solutions, an understanding of the needs of the ICT sector and language skills, as well as the availability of office space," said Rožkalns.
Confidentiality is particularly valued, as businesses face potential sanctions and reprisals from the Belarusian authorities due to the tense political situation. Also, before making such important decisions, company managers also need to prepare their employees by discussing various things, including family relocation options. Under these circumstances, most Belarusian companies are understandably reluctant to comment publicly at present on their future plans before making a final decision.