In February 2023, CIVITTA celebrated its 10th anniversary as an Estonian company organically integrated into Belarusian reality. CIVITTA challenges traditional consulting approaches by offering a game-changing concept to local businesses and the non-profit sector. CIVITTA completed 141 projects in Belarus in 2022 alone, earning the trust of 100 clients.
"I believe in the Belarusian market and want to do it"
– Going back to the beginning, the motivation for establishing CIVITTA in Belarus was conviction: "I believe in the Belarusian market and want to do it," says Daniel Krutzinna, Partner of CIVITTA in Belarus from 2013 to 2018. – The development of the client base is the basis of the basics. My personal brand and the connections I had made in Belarus as an investment attraction expert since 2007 greatly helped in the establishment of the business.
The low market competition and the opportunity to be a market maker drew me in. I also liked how there was no service differentiation, compared to the West, where you specialize in a narrow segment or work in a specific sector. The Belarusian market enabled us to provide the client with a full range of services, such as strategy development, M&A consulting, and corporate finance. The level of development of the market made working at the top management level possible, which was also appealing.
CIVITTA has been present in the Belarusian market since 2012. Even then, CIVITTA managers from the Baltics visited Belarus, and projects were carried out in collaboration with a local investment firm. CIVITTA decided to develop independently in the country and open a representative office in 2013.
We began with a three-person team. The first significant expansion was the hiring of six analysts. It was a risk because they had to be paid regardless of whether or not there were enough projects. It aided that Belarusian analysts could participate in other offices' projects. As a result, everyone had a workload.
The acquisition of the research firm SATIO in 2016 was a point of growth. The market research service segment has been expanded. It was a wise strategic choice. We were already standing on two legs: high-margin projects in corporate finance, M&A, strategy development, and market research.
"We implemented, and it worked!"
CIVITTA BY has acquired a third leg thanks to projects aimed at country reform. One of these initial significant initiatives, aiming at enhancing Belarus' IT skills, was carried out for the World Bank in December 2017. The consultants built a two-year master's program to educate IT specialists, as well as an IT cluster at BSU. 2019 saw the development of a growth and internationalization strategy for BELAVTODOR HOLDING by CIVITTA and the EBRD.
— The projects that CIVITTA BY used to do for the big enterprises are especially valuable," says Siamion Zlobich, Associate Partner of CIVITTA in Belarus. — If the SME more easily agrees to new project implementation principles, it is more mobile in terms of service speed of changes, then it was more difficult with huge companies. Even though there are not many such companies in the market, we were able to work with a number of them, demonstrating how top-tier consultants operate. Because of the nature of decision-making, the procurement process, and the complexity of implementing changes, working with this segment is extremely difficult. However, if the recommendations are put into action, the words of gratitude are especially appreciated, even if they come 2-4 years later: "We implemented, and it worked! We are extremely pleased with the efficiency ".
"CIVITTA has brought the language of numbers to the consulting market in Belarus."
— When CIVITTA entered the Belarusian market, it was one of the first to introduce new standards to consulting work," Siamion continues. The demand for the soft part of consulting — assistance in improving personal efficiency — was high in the 1990s. This referred to cases where it was important to have a knowledgeable dialogue, to inspire, and to propose solutions. Coaching was evolving, there was a frequent request to moderate the process of project development with the help of strategic sessions. It is once again necessary to work with the internal qualities and characteristics of the manager and team.
In the West at the time, the Big Three were confidently working on projects with a hard approach and hard analysis, in addition to soft skills. In other words, providing consulting in numerical terms. CIVITTA brought this approach to our market. We started from the outside, analyzing the data, drawing conclusions, and defending them to management.
The Global Compact Network Belarus has recognized SATIO, a CIVITTA Group company, for its contributions to the SDGs.
As a participant of the UN Global Compact, CIVITTA Belarus operates on the basis of the 10 Principles of the Global Compact in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.
— In Belarus, CIVITTA's priority CSR areas are education and ecology," says Project Manager Vladislav Shumsky. — In addition to internal employee training, we assisted Belarusian students in becoming acquainted with the world of consulting from 2019 to 2021. The non-profit CIVITTA Academy project gathered 120 students each year who pumped up their hard and soft skills during the academic year, acquiring the skills and abilities required in the "here and now" market. This is the achievement of Goal 4: Quality Education.
The second vital part is ecology. Our employees are deeply engaged in initiatives aimed at preserving terrestrial ecosystems (achieving the 15th SDG). Among these initiatives are the Week of the Forest and the Earth Day eco-initiative. Participation in eco-events is regarded as the company's main achievement by 62% of employees in the Belarus office. Since 2019, we have been actively working to make our office even greener. We instil the principles of responsible consumption not only among employees but also set an example for our office neighbours and the building administration, from separate waste collection to the purchase of Belarusian-made products to reduce our carbon footprint.
CIVITTA BY promotes innovation and industrialization through its projects, assisting in the achievement of the 9th SDG. The "Climate Innovation Vouchers" program was launched in May 2021, helping small and medium-sized businesses in developing and implementing climate technologies, thereby contributing to the development of environmentally friendly ecosystems. Helping Belarus' innovative startup ecosystem should receive separate attention. CIVITTA has been publishing annual research on the Belarusian startup ecosystem since 2019, and in October it launched "Innovate Belarus", a platform for Belarusian startups and investors.
Numerous social studies that we conduct for UN agencies in Belarus come to mind as projects with substantial social impact. Many of them are aimed at achieving the 5th and 10th SDGs: Gender equality and Reduced inequality. Among such projects are the studies on ageism, breastfeeding assistance for young mothers, children with disabilities, and the inclusion of fathers in family life and child-rearing.
CIVITTA not only shares its knowledge with clients. The office in Belarus conducts systematic pro bono research to assist businesses in obtaining reliable information about the state of the market and consumer preferences.
"It's encouraging to see CIVITTA continuing to set the bar. "
— CIVITTA, and our office is no exception, develops in four streams: Public, Private, Innovation, and Digital," says Siamion Zlobich. — This division is based on market conditions, and we are moving forward in the Belarusian market in the same manner.
As previously stated, the Belarusian private sector requires the assistance of consultants in developing a strategy, determining the mechanism for entering new markets, understanding how to treat a specific investment project, and implementing quality changes — this is where the Private Stream comes in.
Non-profit organizations have also requested that best practices, mechanisms, and management standards be implemented (it's Public Stream). For many years, we have worked with the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, as well as UNICEF, to help them develop.
Digital direction is in charge of assisting businesses with their digital transformation. CIVITTA is also ready to bring the best practices of different markets to Belarus, drawing on the experience of our colleagues from other offices.
Belarus is rich in intellectual and intelligent professionals capable of developing and implementing innovations. Innovation Stream helps develop the potential of projects and form startups that can change the world. Innovation Stream helps develop the potential of projects and form startups that can change the world. We have raised funding for over 50 startups in recent years, including grant support. We collaborate with non-profit organizations interested in ecosystem development, as well as private organizations looking to implement innovative projects.
Our office launched the Corporate Academy this year, a project that will allow corporate players to participate in ecosystem development. In Europe, 40% of startup investments have corporate roots; in Belarus, the figure is closer to zero. We want to promote this practice and explain to corporate players how they can get involved. We plan to help project participants in practice, with the assistance of mentors and experts.
The project "Consulting Support for Fundraising" is currently in the works. We will train startups through a series of classes in which we will share fundraising know-how and secrets, and then select 5-10 startups to accompany them through the process. We also intend to launch our own accelerator for Belarusian startups.
CIVITTA Belarus plans to continue implementing practices and global standards, setting the bar for partners and competitors. We directly contribute to the development of civil society by providing better services while using new tools.