BY RURAL BOOST: Boosting rural entrepreneurship in Belarus by the Komarovo Rural Business Incubator through capacity building, targeted financial support and active promotion.

  • BelarusCountry
  • EuropeAidDonor
  • ENGLanguage
  • rural developmentgender equalityenvironmentTopics

Applicant's legal status & registration data

EuropeAid ID - BY-2010-AUX-0507137087

Legal status - Non–profit

Applicant's legal status & registration data

EuropeAid ID - BY-2010-AUX-0507137087

Legal status - Non–profit

Background of the applicant

The Project stands as a clear and direct result of Applicant’s previous activities, while the lessons learnt were duly integrated into the current action. The projects builds on the results of the following previous actions in particular:

Partnership of NGOs & Social Care Institution for the sake of social & occupational rehabilitation and empowerment of mentally disabled, Polish Aid 2013; Total budget: EURO 75.000; Implemented between 01.04.2013 to 31.12.2013, still currently running. As for outcomes: 4 semi micro social-enterprises offering occupational empowerment for mentally disabled and disadvantageous were established, equipped and market main-streamed, as far matching and effectively finding demand for their products on the open market (carpentry, textiles/bags/belts, pottery/ceramics and bike/kayaks rent);    

Svirsky region - a promising region. From local experience to sustainable development; Run under Support Programme for Belarus of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany 2010/11; In total budget of  EURO 18.790; Implemented between January 2010 - October 2011; As the result: partnership with Svir Local Council forged, Sustainable Development Strategy for Svirsky Local Council elaborated; Advisory Centre for Sustainable Development established; 

The use of water and wind power – is a promising way of alternative energy development in rural areas;  GEF SGP/ UNDP; In total budget of EURO 76.850; Implemented between November 2006 - December 2008; Tangible results include: micro hydro-power capacity of 3.5 kW was constructed in Komarovo village, energy-efficient street lighting was installed in the park, being connected to the micro hydro-electric station, while wind energy potential was investigated and areas for windmill location were identified.

The key lessons learnt from the relevant previous actions are the following:

Limited or lack access to non-refundable start-up capital, technical know-how, innovations coupled with practical business consulting, being easy reach, optimally placed under one “local roof” remained the key impediments to rural entrepreneurship development. Thus permanent, cross-sectoral institution based education – grant making – assistance approach mix shall be established and applied: need-tailored praxis business education necessarily intrinsically linked with viable grant based instruments and extended follow-up bridge typed assistance should be put in place, optimally in local cross-sectoral business incubator formula: NGO, private and public/LA (UNDP, Polish Aid, FPD). Private sector involvement shall be secured under the given institutional framework, in order to offer market based verification, further testing private equity start-ups as an optimal, sustainable, long term financing model (UNDP, Polish Aid, FPD/IBB, WB, New Eurasia).

Deficit of business oriented thinking, know-how, ideas, technologies and innovations is evident and staggering, modern rural business/entrepreneurship education is non-existent, while the interest in business education is huge; The educational curriculum shall include general introductory components (basic business and management background is missing) and focus on case relevant praxis, elaboration of business plans, know-how and knowledge applications, emphasizing individual tutoring and follow-up assistance (Polish Aid, FPD/IBB, WB, New Eurasia/USAID); Competitive selection of participants based on a demand/reward formula of grants award scheme should be optimal incentive and quality gate-keeper, while strict evaluation of the business plans should be observed (WB, UNDP, FPD and Polish Aid).

Pilot demonstration effect of innovatory and sustainable business solutions remains the key. The results of the action must be tangible, feasible and profit making to constitute a viable stimulus for business relevant social attitudes change and further local entrepreneurship boost, only as such the results should be disseminated (UNDP, FPD/IBB, Polish Aid). Innovations pilot implementations should be best sustained, main-streamed and replicated if in cluster (GEF).

The Applicant/ Leader (in English)

Public Association “Women for restoration of Narach region” 

Registration & postal address

Postal address: 222394 Minsk reg., Myadel distr., v.Komarovo,
 Zelenaya str., 14, room 1 

Applicant's email & phone

tel: +375 293 888 688

fax: +375 (01797) 37 3 04

naroch_women@komarovo.com

Applicant's website/s or facebook

Contact Person for this Project

Alla Voitsehovich 

naroch_women@komarovo.com

  

Partners & co-applicants involved

Republican Confederation of Entrepreneurship 

Country: Belarus  

Legal Status: NGO
 
 
Co-aplicant expierience:
 
 

Name of the co-applicant: Republican Confederation of Entrepreneurship

Project title: Creation of franchising co-operation network in Latvia-Lithuania-Belarus cross-border region

Sector (see Section 3.2.2 of Section 3):

Location of the action

Cost of the action (EUR)

Role in the action: Coordinator, co-applicant, affiliated entity

Donors to the action (name)[1]

Amount contributed (by donor)

Dates (from dd/mm/yyyy to dd/mm/yyyy)

Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia

430.650

Co-applicant

European Commission; Latvia, Lithuania and Belarus Cross Border Cooperation Programme within the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument EC Decision C(2008)8113

387.585

01/11/2013 to 31/10/2014

Objectives and results of the action

Main objective of the action is to establish a sustainable network of organizations co-operating in the field of development of franchising in Latvia-Lithuania-Belarus cross-border region thus facilitating faster economic growth and business co-operation between 3 countries.

Specific objectives:

1) To conduct strategic planning for creation and development of inter-organizational cooperation network for promotion of franchising;

2) To reveal the undisclosed potential of the target regions for exploiting the international franchising opportunities;

3) To create a basis for free consulting services in frame of inter-organizational cooperation network;

4) To prepare the educational materials aimed at the deepening of understanding of franchising among potential franchisors and franchisees from target regions;

5) To conduct joint publicity campaign aimed at increasing franchising awareness in target regions;

6) To perform joint networking activities for partners' cooperation.

Expected results:

· F.A.R. Network of at least 3 organizations started operations;

· about 3300 persons familiarized with F.A.R. Research results in the period of 3 years after making it available;

· Academic study course on franchising lectured in at least one university in Latvia, Lithuania or Belarus;

· about 8700 persons familiarized with the Guide on franchising in the period of 3 years after making it available;

· Up to 50 contacts between franchisers and franchisees established.


[1]      If the donor is the European Union or an EU Member State, please specify the EU budget line, EDF or EU Member State.

 

Partner contact person: details & registrations data & PADOR/ EuropeAid ID

mail: Rce.by.inter@gmail.com

tel: 375+17+2982441    

data of registration: 23.08.2007

registration number: 190859472

place of registration: Minsk, Belarus

Official address of registration: 11-115 Serafimovicha, Minsk, Belarus

Eruropeaid ID: BY-2012-GNH-0606897110

Background Outline & Justification

The present situation in the Project area is characterized by:

1. Marginal status of the territory. It is considered to be the periphery of Belarus while the unique character of rural and non-metropolitan areas close to the EU border is ignored. A vertical, centralized model of development takes no account of alternative costs or side effects and markedly differs from the desirable model: horizontal, holistic, partnership driven, decentralized and sustainable.

2. Inconsistent legislation, and more so secondary regulation/bylaws on the development of rural areas and rural entrepreneurship and a hostile institutional environment (WB, IMF, 2011).

3. Limited access to capital: almost no locally accumulated capital and heavily restricted access to credit resources. Lack of non-refundable, grant-type aid for rural micro-business development.

4. Outdated, irrelevant education system, which ignores the labor market needs (esp. in the rural context); Absence entrepreneurship and business oriented vocational education; Lack of consultancy and business support institutions.

5. Inefficient structure of Labor resources within the project area: high employment in the collective farming (about 30% of the total local labour force within the 4 project's area). Severe underdevelopment of the private sector: a scant private sector’s stake in the local product creation and income generation (5-7%, Komarovo, 2012); a meager coefficient of employment in the private sector (2-3%, Kom. 2012) and a very low coefficient of the self-employed and individual entrepreneurs (2-3%, Kom., 2012). Furthermore, the Project Area features an alarming rate of real local unemployment amounting to 37% (Kom., 2012).

6. Considerable outflow migration from the Project area: Komarovo Center estimates that approx. 80% of local youth/high school graduates, mostly women, leave to never be back (Kom., 2006 - 2012).

7. Development of mass tourism and its strongly seasonal character (limited only to summer holidays). 

8. Insufficient technical, telecommunications infrastructure (incl. poor access to the broadband/fast Internet and raising prices for IC and Internet services due to re-imposition of VAT).

9. Scarcity of reliable data and statistics on impediments to rural entrepreneurship development in Belarus (different methodologies of data collection, out-of-date statistics).

Project Summary

To make a contribution to the above mentioned problems the Applicant (Public Association “Women for restoration of Narach region”) struggle to secure rights to the buildings in Komarovo (see box 1) to host the planned Rural Business Incubator. It shall offer under one roof: practically oriented entrepreneurship education, technical infrastructure, assistance, start-up capital on the competitive and market oriented basis.

Our project is about establishment of the truly workable locally entrenched small business support institution (the Rural Business Incubator), creating opportunities, that make at least some people stay or return with desire to work hard, earn money and live decently, helping the communities and region, setting practice of socially and environmentally sustainable rural development.

Project location

Belarus: 4 districts of north-western Belarus (BY): Myadel district, Minsk Region; Pastavy district, Vitebsk Region; Astravyets district, Smorgon district, Grodno Region; in total 146,473 inhabitants (Belstat, 2011);    

Project Start & End Date:

36 months

Amount Requested, state the currency

·             the budget of the action (worksheet 1): EUR  859 097

·              for its first 12  months: EUR 401 957

·             amount requested from the Contracting Authority and other expected sources of funding for the action for the total duration (worksheet 3): EUR 770 178

Target groups & final beneficiaries:

There are two major target groups of the Project:

1. SME sector within the Project area, incl. 24 beneficiaries awarded grants for running 24 rural start-ups and business; Min. 20 entrepreneurs per month receiving support from the Incubator; Creation of 120 private sustainable workplaces in services/production within the Project area. 40 Rural Business School (RBS) students enrolled, 36 business plans approved (risk assumption). Special focus is given on including the socially disadvantaged – the disabled and mothers excluded from the labour market;

2. Experts, policy/decision-makers, NGOs, business organizations - in total approx. 120 people, participants at two mid-term conferences and one final conference.

Final beneficiaries of the Project, on the other hand, embrace: 1. Community of 4 focus districts of the Project area (146,000 inhabitants in total) taking advantage of the economic development of the region.

2. Other rural communities and the sector of rural SMEs in Belarus, as well as academic community and experts will take advantage of 3 White Books which investigate and analyses opportunities and obstacles for to rural business and put forward recommendations on institutional environment.

Overall objective or goal

Sustainable rural development of the Northwest region of Belarus by promoting and supporting local private initiatives and entrepreneurs. Increased self-supportiveness of the rural population with a specific focus on social and female entrepreneurs.

Specific objective(s)

1. The Komarovo Rural Business Incubator effectively promotes and supports sustainable economic development of the rural EU-border areas of Northwest Belarus.

2. Increased understanding and capacity of socially and ecologically responsible entrepreneurship in the rural EU border areas of Northwest Belarus through the Rural Business School Program run by the Komarovo Rural Business Incubator.

3. Local rural entrepreneurs start and successfully develop their socially responsible businesses through a Rural Venture Grants Scheme (focus on socially and ecologically sustainable ventures, including economic empowerment of women and mothers).

Methodology or project’s strategic approach

The design, implementation, evaluation and follow-up of the project fully integrates the PCM/Project Cycle Management (including its planning, feed-backs, monitoring, evaluation, audit components) as a primary methodological toolkit at project's management level, sticking to effectiveness, efficacy, value for money, accountability, transparency principles. Key project's activities are designed to allow and integrate feed-backs and improvements and accommodating changes, tasks, responsibilities, document flows and decisions well defined.

Employed implementation methodology aims at maximizing the sustainability of the project itself, ownership of its products and results and further dissemination potential.

For this end the selected methodological approaches include: establishment of the genuine local, cross sectoral, partnership based business incubator, with sufficient Human resources and material resources and adequate know-how, capable to sustain from its own income, additionally mobilizing external and for a long term attracting private funds (investors top-ups/public- private financing mix encouraged), offering permanent consultancy and support to entrepreneurs (business incubator model supplemented with partnership community foundation approach), after the project ends.

Award based entrepreneurship education offered under the incubator will emphasize the praxis and implementation know-how, ensuring follow-up support, in VET/Vocational Education and Training model: face-to-face learning, case-studies analyses, best-practices overviews, peer learning, competitive training, learning by doing, benchmarking, mentoring, coaching, networking are extensively incorporated.

The micro-grants scheme will go hand in hand with entrepreneurship education, producing rural businesses/demonstration pilot implementation sites, largely enhancing the overall project sustainability and its dissemination potential. Principles of mission-driven product/service business (strictly financially sound social entrepreneurship) are to be encouraged. The incubated rural business will ensure relevant green and social innovation diffusion and main-streaming, while adopted complementarity green cluster approach will make them more competitive. All in all subscribing to sustainable local focused, rural development model.

Pursuit of secondary regulations sequential improvement is envisaged: life lab (individual case studies focused qualitative and quantitative) approach as a primary data collection method, supplemented by secondary analyses, recommendations development, targeted PR and pro-active advocacy, direct lobbing (addressing ministries, local and regional authorizes in particular) are to extensively used, contributing to setting the practice of evidence based rural business oriented policy making and further the local business regulatory improvement on the project area.

Cross-cutting issues are to be duly integrated: good governance, gender-equality, environmental/sustainable development are to excelled and main-streamed at all levels.

Project sustainability

a. Financial sustainability:

A minimum financial sustainability of the Project is guaranteed by the adaptation and the fitting out of the Incubator's buildings. The conference base, office space and guest rooms thus provided can serve as the contribution in the future Incubator's Projects, while applying for public funding. The human resource policy pursued by the Incubator aims at raising funds for its statutory activity. The choice of applicants to be appointed to positions which entail performing social functions and the choice of experts will largely depend upon the candidate’s ability to win additional financial means. The Director is expected to effectively mobilize new material resources necessary for running the Incubator's activity after the end of the Project and to expand the scope of the institution's activities (VET, training courses, social Projects, cooperation with NGOs, certification, ecology) upon approval of the Incubator's Board. Besides, the partnerships formed during the Project and the Incubator's Board will make all possible efforts to acquire additional funds for the Incubator's activity, both drawing on public resources (institutional partners) and private ones. After gaining financial sustainability and after the Project's end, the Incubator may attract a subsidiary founding functioning as an equity/angel investor model – using external or its own funds. Such subsidiary will take up shares in business enterprises in return for and in proportion to the resources invested in technology, optimally together with a private investor. This will have no relation to the statutory activity of the Incubator which will remain open and free of charge.

b. Institutional sustainability:

At the beginning of the Project separate non-profit legal entity Rural Business Incubator in line with relevant BY regulations will be created to draw on the established, developed and main-streamed resources and infrastructure, capacities and networks to pursue and expand the activities (including the financial, competence and infrastructural assistance to local businesses) strictly in line with the mission and the objectives of the current Project. Result of the Activity 3.5: The distribution of 24 grants among rural start-ups amounting in total to EUR 178,000 will enable to raise more funds, attracting public as well as private financing for the Incubator’s activities.

The Komarovo Rural Enterprenership Support Cenetr( organization register as commertial company) will provide co-financing to the project  and will be closed by the end of project as his function will replace by Rural Busness Incubator.

c. Policy level sustainability:

The Incubator lays particular stress on gathering reliable and comprehensive data about running economic activity in the Project area and problems encountered by entrepreneurs. The source of information are the Project's participants who discuss their first-hand experiences with their tutors, thus contributing to the White Books, being in-depth analyses of particular cases. The following topics are to be examined in the White Books: material, financial and human resources of enterprises; legal and administrative conditions; administration quality and qualifications; rural socio-economic context; access to information; access to innovations; gender determinants and the situation of people at risk of being excluded from the labour market; and, finally, recommendations.

The recommendations to be included in the White Books are meant to be formulated in the most possibly accurate and detailed manner so as to provide practical, valuable instructions for those willing to get involved in business in the Project area. Each scrutinized case will be accompanied by a comprehensive, precise, though readable, non-technical, example-based problem explanation. Such form of recommendations will ensure their putting into practice and improving the situation of entrepreneurs (by positively influencing legal conditions/ the functioning of administration). Consequently, the recommendations will be widely disseminated, among others they will be published in the media and handed over to the local, regional authorities as well as the chosen representatives of the state authorities (for example, members of parliament).

d. Environmental sustainability:

 

The environmental sustainability of the project will be ensured at three levels and incited three fold.

Amongst the direct grant beneficiaries: the established scoring criteria clearly reward environmental/green innovations projects; The green cluster will be set up to embrace all grant-based green pilots and beyond. The green cluster will ensure technological and market complementarity of the applied solutions: the green pilots implementations are to create a local green service and products market for themselves, inducing demand and supply, adding directly to sustainability of the adopted green solutions e.g. the pilot pellet producer/bio sewage/eco insulation will find demand for its product from the pilot refurbish farmstead, where relevant pellet stove/bio sewage/eco insulation will be installed etc. Additionally provided bridging and follow-up pro-environmental technology/market assistance and the green certification under Green Komarovo brand will reinforce the coupling and spill-over effect of the green cluster itself.

Amongst the future/non-awarded graduates, target local to-be/entrepreneurs and focal area communities: permanently running Rural Business School will spread the green know-how and expertize, Rural Business Incubator permanently providing open-door assistance will help tailor and implement the green/environmental technologies, offering green certification under Green Komarovo, whereas the existence of the green cluster (as above) will make each new complementary green implementation cheaper (accessibility and margin costs), further stimulating the development of the local green market, boosting demand for Eco-technological innovations.

Eventually at the replication and dissemination level: the green cluster (with its green pilot-projects able to find the market for their green products), along with assistance and the certification will serve as the most telling testimony.

Project Management: roles responsibilities of the applicant and the partner/s:

The Applicant will be responsible for overall running of the Project: Project management, its financial management, audit and subject matter evaluation. Besides, the Applicant will be responsible for the following activities: adaptation, modernization, fixtures and fittings, recruitment and running of four edition of the Rural Business School (RBS), 4 Start-up weekends and grants award, Permanent support for entrepreneurs: track assistance programmes, Rural regulatory improvement track: knowledge collection, recommendation development and Project’s PR and result dissemination, Dissemination of the Project’s results: publicity, PR and 3 promotional conferences.

The Co-Applicant/ Association of Legal Entities “Republican Confederation of Entrepreneurship” will: be represented within the Board of Trustees, delegate the trainer/s and tutor/s for the Rural Business school; additionally the Co-Applicant will be largely involved (30% of workload) in all Awareness raising and dissemination activities and lobbing of regulation change.

The Applicant will sign Memorandum of understanding with the Co-Applicant/Republican Confederation of Entrepreneurship outlining the responsibilities, workload sharing and management frameworks as well as the sub-contract specifying inputs, outputs, activities and budget under this Project and based on a mutually agreed planning schedule, such as the log frame.

Description of the activities

Project management activities

 

PM1. Registration process of the overall project with the Belarusian authorities.

The Applicant is fully responsible for getting the project registered. The project will be formally registered as International Technical Assistance under the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Belarus. As such, the project needs endorsement and formal approval of the Commission on International Technical Cooperation at the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus. As the Applicant is a Belarus based NGO the process of registration is slightly less cumbersome. The registration will proceed as follows:

1.    All required documents will be submitted to the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Belarus by applicant.

2.    The Ministry itself, not the Applicant (as in the case for the international NGOs implementing projects in BY), seeks, collects and ensures the mandatory individual acceptance and approval by all other Belarusian Ministries and institutional stakeholders, as stipulated in the law, to forward the complete project file, containing all endorsement letters, to the Commission on International Technical Cooperation at the Council of Ministers of BY for its consideration and final acceptance.

  In the experience of the applicant the whole process takes around from 4 till 8 months.   

 

PM2. Selection process for the project team and Board of Trustees.

All positions are to be filled in unrestricted, open, merit-based and competitive recruitment process, further gender balance is to be observed. Project team will consist from 7 position: Project manager, Director of the incubator, Manager of education program, Financial manager, Administrative Assistant, PR-officer, Legal consultant.

The Project Manager responsible for the overall management of the project and its activities; formal registration of the project/micro-grants and relevant follow-up (correspondences with the authorities); supervition over adaptation and refurbishment of the premises for RBI, purchase of equipment for RBI. Coordination and supervision of a correct, on-time, consistent with the Grant Agreement, both merit and financial, administration and implementation of the Project and its settlement, remaining in permanent contact with the grantee/EU/EC, all project's partners, associates and stakeholder and further networking; Problems shooting when they arise. 

The Director represents the Rural Business Incubator, organizes its work and exercises permanent supervision over technical, administrative, subject matter and statutory activity of the Incubator including supervision of outside contractors/services providers; The Director organizes the Start-up weekends, manages grants' awards process, supervises and controls grants' implementation/settlements, coordinates the Rural Regulatory Improvement Track, output/recommendations (White Books in particular), further oversees and ensures effective dissemination and main-streaming of its results, entailing co-operation with project's partner - Association of Legal Entities “Republican Confederation of Entrepreneurship” on lobbing activities to translate the regulatory improvement recommendations into the policy action and enforcement. Behind the project end the position of Director of the RBI is to be financed, and thus sustained drawing on income from RBI's services provided there, supplemented with independent donor oriented fund-raising.

Financial manager - Financial management, monthly financial reports on project expenses.

Educational Programme Manager  -  Full monthly work-load, responsible for the overall programme management and day-to-day implementation of the Rural Business School/RBS as well as two permanent assistance programs to entrepreneurs – bridging and open assistance program, listed under Activity 1.3 Educational Progamme Manager recruits, supports, oversees at least four regular experts/lecturers + sector experts, should the need arise. The Manager prepares and updates the framework version of syllabus of Rural Business School, to be submitted to the Board of Trustees, for endorsement. The Manager is organizing and managing the Rural Business School recruitment process, duly involving the Rural Business School qualifying committee, appointed by the Board of Trustees.

Additionally, the post of project's PR Officer will be created, being responsible for development of the Project's Visibility Plan and its execution, managing, caring out the tasks under Activity 1.7, including drafting and editing all PR, press materials, up-dating web-site, managing social media accounts, organizing events, media networking, adding to lobbing process along project's partners and stakeholders, when needed.

Administrative assistant (70% work load) will be responsible for administrative support of all activities of the project as well as office management for project and incubator offices.

Legal consultant (50% work load) – according to the planned activities it will be necessary a lot of professional legal work in the project during implementation of incubator activities: support to entrepreneurs, as well as support of registration process of all grants.

The other tasks will be outsourced to external entities (architectural and technical/installation plans, construction, fixtures, computer-related services, cleaning/maintenance, audit, external evaluation etc.),  clearly on the merit and competitive basis.

To the Board of Trustees will be invited Belarusian institutions and non-governmental organizations: the Applicant, Co-applicant - Association of Legal Entities “Republican Confederation of Entrepreneurship”, two representatives of business, including one from amongst providers of financial contribution (Riftur Adv. Prite. or IMP Business School) and at least one local/BY small businesses entity with a clear history of start-up; representative/s of Green Network BY and BY disabled oriented NGO/CSO, Young Women Group; foreign cooperatives: Development Policy Foundation( PL), Towarzystwo Rozwoju Gminy P?u?nica (PL)  and Treevelop (NL) , altogether 7-11 individuals and relevant representatives of Oblast or Local Authorities. The members of the Board perform their duties on voluntary basis.

The Board of Trustees: accepts the Incubator's statute and approves later amendments thereto; elects the Director of the Incubator, from amongst the candidates applying in an unrestricted, competitive, open job/position call and approves the activity reports/annual plan of action submitted by the Director; determines the remuneration of the Director and the scope of its duties; approves the programme of the training courses offered within the frames of the Incubator (especially the syllabus of the Rural Business School and its changes); Appoints the Rural Business School qualifying committee; lays down the detailed rules about disbursement of micro-grants; has an exclusive right to decide upon providing micro-grants from the Incubator's funds; promotes the Incubator, makes efforts to raise new funds for it, whereas the members of the Board participate in the Start-up weekends.

PM3. Ensuring project implementation and reporting to the EU as per contract.

 

Based on the contracting requirements the project manager and team provide all necessary output / deliverables in a timely manner. The financial management is the task of the financial manager. This person must have experience in financial management of EU or international donor founded projects. In order to ensure proper implementation of the BY laws on financial management we have to keep the original invoices in the office, so that the reporting to the EU will be based on copies or scans of the originals.

The project will be implemented according to the best tested and widely-recognized standards, rules and practices of both the EU and relevant international in the field. Being designed, run and sustained in the way to directly and effectively address the needs of the target groups, beneficiaries and the communities within the project area for a long term, while its structure and management models applied will allow to seek and integrate the relevant feedbacks coming from thereof during the entire project and beyond. The changes in project's time-line and schedule can not be ruled out, although they are to be kept to a absolute minimum, at the same time the applied management model (including precautionary and risk-preventive management), along the clearly defined responsibilities and info-flows, will make the overall project structure more flexible, allowing timely, adequate and effective mitigation and adjustment strategy to be put in place, without delay and prejudice to project's outputs, results and overall impact. In case of any changes the EU will be timely, constantly, insightful and fully informed about the changes and consulted on the adjustments to be implemented accordingly.

We welcome active donorship of the EU and EU delegation in Belarus, we would like to see the EU team visit our project and the Incubator as often as possible. In addition we welcome an active role of the EU responsible contract manager to observe the meetings of the Board of Trustees in order to ensure an open and transparent project implementation.

PM4. Performance review of project team members and external experts.

The project manager reviews the performance of his/her project team on an annual basis. The performance review takes place through a written questionnaire filled out by both the supervisor and the team member. Besides the monitoring of the implementation of the actual tasks of each team member and/or expert it is important to review the communication within the team, external communication, level of cooperation with stakeholders, attitude to the work, etc. On these aspects both the project manager and the staff member give their opinion and discuss this in a performance review meeting. Also recommendations for the next year of work must be shared, from both parties.

For external experts the main review concerns the actual fulfilment of their Terms of Reference for their activities, however, in case of deviation of the ToR and/or changing circumstances a separate and/or additional performance review must take place in a written manner in order to build up the file and keep a track record for reporting and institutional memory.

For each project team member a clear job description must be prepared at the moment of signing their contract, in addition an overview of their tasks and duties in the first year of work must be provided as well so that it is mutually clear which activities, tasks and duties are going to be evaluated at the end of the year. For external experts a concise but clear and to-the-point ToR must be prepared upon hiring the actual external expert.

PM5. External audit and evaluation.

 

Audit is to be carried out by an independent, certified auditor. Audit will concern the Incubator as well as its beneficiaries/grantees. There is an external audit report expected at the end of the Project.

At the inception phase of the project, project management team will hire external Monitoring and Evaluation expert to developed monitoring plan of whole project. Monitoring will cover technical indicators (cash flow, calendar etc.) as well as indicators for strategic monitoring (at least - assumptions monitoring, outcome and impact monitoring, context monitoring). The decision-making flow is subject of the monitoring plan as well. Monitoring activities should ensure the documenting process of project implementation.

For subgranting projects the IMACON appraisal methodology (IMACON Model: Project Appraisal, Monitoring, Organisational Development, Gotin S.V., Vialuchka U.V, Vilnius, 2013, ISBN 978-609-420-306-0. (PDF version (Russian) for personal use is available for download from http://gotin.org/files/IMACON_2013.pdf)) will be used for project appraisal as well as for projects monitoring.

We are going to be organized in traditional way – by inviting independent expert (local and/or international). Evaluation will cover DAC criteria (effectiveness, efficiency, relevance and sustainability), will be focused on lessons learned as well as follow-up recommendations. Special focus we are going to make on evaluation cross-cutting issues, like mainstreaming gender, disability and environmental friendliness of the project implementation.

Subject matter external evaluation of the Project: two mid-term interim reports and a final report is envisaged, being contracted out to the external evaluation.

 

Activities leading to Specific Objective 1

1.1.      Registration of the legal entity Komarovo Rural Business Incubator.

The Komarovo Rural Business Incubator (RBI) is to be registered as a separate entity (in line with relevant sector regulation) at the beginning of the Project cycle, adding tangibly to its sustainability.

Public association “Women for restoration of Narach region” will be the founder of this legal entity.

Legal status of a non-profit legal entity (not public association) will give more flexibility to Incubator to perform their tasks – to provide paid services after the project ends.

The Komarovo Rural Business Incubator will get status of business incubator in Ministry of Economy which will give possibility to get additional support from the state.

1.2.      Restructuring, modernization, adaptation and furnishing of the 19th century building for Komarovo Rural Business Incubator.

The historical classic manor house of 19th century (Real Estate 1), which the Applicant owns as a holder of perpetual usufruct by virtue of the decree issued by the President of the Republic of Belarus no. 108/2011. will be adapted for Rural Business Incubator needs. In total: 250 sq m. will be fixed constituting a forth part of the total surface of building, the reminder will be refurbished and equipped drawing on additional private and public resources, supplemented by own means, coming from providing various services.

The ground floor will host conference room/computer room with a library (for training and conference purposes it will be possible to divide the room with sliding panels or have one large hall), two small office premises, plumbing system: a small kitchen and a bathroom. Upstairs/attic, which must be lifted and upgraded, will host 6 guest rooms with bathrooms, with a purpose to accommodate the trainers and experts of the Incubator, and further build-up Incubator's potential and institutional capacity within the project and beyond.

The building and all facilities will be made available for disabled, furthermore arrangements will strive to accommodate the needs of young mothers. Limited movable indoor playground will be installed in order to let the young mothers partake in Incubator's activities, along their kids.

Technical equipment and systems will include: an automated energy effective heating system, a pellet stove furnace to heat rooms, solar panels and collector and a boiler to heat up water, bio-sewage treatment, all with the use of eco-friendly, energy effective technology, drawing on local resources.  

The indoor equipment of the office/library and guest rooms will include: computer and office equipment, server, equipment of the conference room, broadband fast optic Internet connection, furniture, table ware, security alarm system.

1.3.      Set-up and constantly run services and assistance program for potential entrepreneurs, applicants to the Rural Business School Program and the winning grantees. (Incubator’s Open Assistance Programme and Bridging Assistance Programme for grantees)

Incubator's Open Assistance Programme

The Incubator is run and operated in an open-door formula – being open to existing and newly established entrepreneurs from the Project area and beyond. As such, support under the Incubator's open assistance programme is not offered solely to the graduates of the Rural Business School.

The Incubator's open assistance programme embraces, among others: transfer of technology and innovations, in particular while adapting green and eco-technology to the needs of a given enterprise as part of the cluster being created.

The assistance in selection, adaptation and internalisation or implementation of innovations, managerial and social/gender inclusive employment; trade, marketing and networking; promotion of the members of the Incubator.

The supporting in their establishing business contacts (also with clients or on the sales markets); in international activity (including export and training courses abroad), in the search for investors; pursuing economic and entrepreneurship education and VET in co-operation with local stakeholders, esp. the Svir Agricultural College.

Making available free-of-charge premises for conferences or offices (as the Applicant is a perpetual usufructuary of both Real Estate 1 and 2); making available premises for core business activity; gratuitous broadband Internet access; providing/certifying local entrepreneurs with the own brand "Komarovo”; regular support in facing other problems and challenges; legal counselling, management consulting and promotion of employment for the excluded (or at risk of being excluded) from the labour market (graduates, women, mothers, the disabled and durably unemployed, former prisoners, including women).

Bridging Assistance Programme for grantees

Each entrepreneur who receives support in the form of a grant will be entitled to or automatically enrolled into a separate, one-year Bridging Assistance Programme. This programme will cover: help of an individual tutor (optimally the same person who was assigned during the RBS stage) with implementation and in carrying out its business plan; permanent support for entrepreneurs in their relations with state institutions and banks, above all help with the registration of companies; legal aid, especially in obtaining permissions, certificates and concessions or getting access to real estate/land lease.

Also this programme will cover: keeping accounts; free use of offices, a library and conference rooms; free use of the premises for core business within the Real Estate 2; assistance in selection, adaptation and internalization/implementation of innovations, managerial and social/gender inclusive employment; assistance in selection, adaptation, internalization/main-streaming of technological, green/ECO and environmental innovations; IT assistance, support in adaptation, implementation of need-tailored ITC solutions; assistance in search of potential customers and markets: local, regional, international; support in the preparation of trade related documentations; help with PR, networking, branding and promotion/fairs/exhibition; help with the implementation of business plans worked out by the graduates of the Business School; support for the Incubator's beneficiary in signing a deed of partnership in the case of finding an external investor.

Essentially, the Bridging assistance programme and Incubator's open assistance programme are to be run in parallel and complement each other, though the Bridging assistance programme is much wider in its offer and strictly individualized in approach.

1.4.      Data collection for the research on three “White Books”, based upon on-going experiences of starting entrepreneurs and project experts.

According to the latest trends (Nordland Research Institute and Jönköping International Business School, 2011, LSE 2010, MIT, 2011), the methods of prolonged, optimally semi-formal case studies collection (life lab), coupled with in-depth context/background and factor research (including resources, capacities, institutions, info-flows) verification and examination are the most effective for the assessment of the conditions and identification of barriers to and opportunities for rural entrepreneurship development in countries like Belarus.

In Belarus there are neither reliable statistics nor studies enabling an accurate identification of the social, structural and legal barriers to the development of rural entrepreneurship. The studies which come into being within the frames of international projects (BAS/ BEST/SIDA/USAID/IFC/UNDP), even those run in non-metropolitan areas, are based on the conditions different from that of the Incubator due to the following reasons: 1. They do not focus on the rural problems par excellence (peculiarities of rural market in BY). 2. They focus solely on innovative companies. 3. They concern business activities already established and running. 4. Finally, they tend to be general - underestimating institutional economics context (given chaotic, dispersed, frequently contradictory legal base) and uneven regulations enforcement, agents and organizational behaviours, resources, info-flows, thus the effective transaction costs, all in non-metropolitan context.

The methods of data collection (life lab) contain: informal interviews with the beneficiaries/grantees carried out by their respective tutors on regular basis; formal (scenario based) interviews with the grant beneficiaries after 3 / 6 / 12 months; cases collected and pooled from independent entities and individuals addressing the Incubator with the assistance requests.

The data will be collected and processed anonymously. The authority of the Applicant is a guarantee of confidentiality. It increases accuracy and integrity of data and information collected. A dedicated, duly secured, maximally simplified reporting sub-interface will be developed for tutors and experts to collect and describe the cases. The cases will be verified and investigated paying particular attention to their legal, economic and social aspects (in-depth context/background case survey) and factor research (including resources, capacities, institutions, info-flows) to be systematized and provided with commentaries.

1.5.      Round tables sessions with (inter)national experts, estimated 4 times during data collection and drafting “White Books”.

4 Incubator Staff, Tutors, Experts and Project Partners/Key Project's Stakeholders Round Tables: to be held each 6 month, starting from Month 12. The round tables aiming at over-viewing and further examining (e-data base will allow to test data against various criteria and hypothesis for the While Books and beyond) and discuss the collected cases and formulate the relevant recommendations to be included within the White Books.

1.6.      Draft writing, design and editing three “White Books”.

The White Books are to be created and authored by subcontracted experts, while the Director of the Incubator will be in charge of the end version editing.

There will be two Mid-term and one final White Book examining the obstacles and impediments to start and run rural business and offering relevant tangible/ready to be used recommendations on institutional and regulatory improvements. The Book should be issued and promoted via focal event/conference and beyond. It is to be disseminated and main-streamed via dedicated events and PR (see below).

The publications will fill in the gap left by lack of consistent, coherent, methodologically comparable data, both qualitative and quantitative, about the scale of, conditions for and obstacles to opening and running micro-enterprises in the Belarusian rural context.

The White Books, instead of drawing exclusively on the formally collected and aggregated data, are to be mainly based on: a comprehensive, time extended life lab (business practice engaged observation laboratory) analysis performed during at least 6 months of each the incubated enterprise's activity.

The individual chains of case studies can be structured into sets and series, and further tested according to various and changeable criteria: problem-oriented, time (”enterprise's age”), place, institution, resources, factor-oriented etc. The e-data base will allow to test various data against various criteria and hypothesis for the White Books and beyond.

Such initial methodological approach makes it possible to indicate the sources of the problems and give an accurate diagnosis, beyond general expression “incoherence of law”, often used in BY conditions.

1.7.      Awareness raising and dissemination of the work of the Komarovo Rural Business Incubator (annual report, website, social media accounts, leaflets, PR, promotional conferences, open days and seminars).

The PR, publicity, dissemination/multiplication and lobbing activities are to be overseen by the PR officer. The Project's Visibility Plan is to be developed and endorsed with the inception phase and shall include:

An extended, need-tailored, Project’s website is to be created and regularly updated. It will contain all the Project’s materials (open-source license), calls for RBS, start-ups announcement, RBS educational materials, interactive section for contracted grantees and registered clients. The Project results and its methodology will be published on the website as well as design the step-by-step business plan model on how to create a business incubator.

Various targets’ adjusted Social Media PR and results dissemination will be carried out throughout the entire cycle of the Project: FB, Twitter, Vkontakte, Odnoklasniki complex accounts to be created and moderated and run in open comments formula.

Information will  be also wide spreaded through local newpeapers of 4 project districts.

Incubator’s graphic style and leaflet will be developed by professional designer. The style will be used for all PR materials, web design, etc.

Traditional Media PR: 3 Press Conferences (1 kick-off and 3 conferences connected, including 1 final), 3 x Press-kits, 12 x Newsletters/Press Releases (including extended summary in ENG).

Pro-active, involving PR, with extended follow-up out-reach: 3 Media Tours, primarily for BY journalists oriented (90% participants) and the reminder 10% rep. of international media based in BY.

All and each particular Project’s outputs and outcomes will follow, meet and fully satisfy all binding obligations, requirements and non-binding recommendations in line with the EU/EUROPEAID Communication and Visibility Guideline for External Action eds. 2010;

1.8.      Annual project results conference, closure conference at the last month of the project at the Komarovo Rural Business Incubator.

Three one-day results, recommendations-oriented and White Books-focused conferences, bringing together the approximately up to 50 participants including, Board of Trustees, Business Schools graduates, including the Rural Venture Grants Scheme programme beneficiaries, the key stakeholders and decision makers, including ministries, local and regional authorities, business representatives and sector experts, NGOs are to be held. The White Books are to be over-viewed and handled to the participants. The topical case-studies along the relevant regulatory, institutional or technical recommendations are to be presented and discussed by the sector experts. The discussion will focus on feasibility, costs and other resources needed to enforce or implement the recommendations developed – on case by case basis. The feedback will be duly collected, especially that from the representatives of the ministries, local and regional authorities and business community, and further integrated into the recommendations (White Books). Presentations of up-to date implemented business start-ups success stories and site visits are also envisaged. By the same token the conferences will offer an opportunity for advocacy, addressing the regional and local authorities in particular.

Conferences are to be held: 12-13th month, 24-25th month, 35th month (final).

The regulations' change and improvement effect will be ensured and enhanced via lobbing actions

1.9.      Study visits/tours for relevant ministries’ representatives, regional policy makers and local authorities.

Representatives of Minsk Region executive committee, Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection and Education and Tourism, Miadel, Smorgon, Postavy, Ostrovets District authorities and other decision makers will be invited for a result dissemination and promotional tours, emphasizing the multiplication and main-streaming potential of the model tested (altogether about 10 people). The tours will constitute a part of lobbing campaign to induce regulatory change, drawing on the recommendation contained within the White Books, to be run jointly with the co-applicant.

 

Activities leading to Specific Objective 2.

2.1        Recruit the experts for the Rural Business School Program.

Director of Incubator together with Education project manager develop requirements to the expert/trainers for the Rural Business School Program. Best candidates will be recruited.

2.2        Design the curriculum and all content of the Rural Business School Program. The Program will last 5 months and will be run 4 times during project implementation.

The programme of the Rural Business School will be divided into two parts: General one, embracing case study focused group seminars and workshops: items A (40% of total workload); and a need-tailored practical part, based upon individual work with a tutor and sector experts: items B (60% of total workload);

Additionally, result-driven distance learning/e-tutoring will supplement the learning process. E-tutoring (weekly voice conferences tutor-participant and support) remains the core obligation of the tutor under the contract, without additional remuneration thus they are not accounted for in time schedule and the budget. E-tutoring will be an invaluable mode of learning for mothers and the handicapped who often find it difficult to leave home. Yet, in line with the widely recognized current trends (RBC/Rural Business Challenge, UK and worldwide, 2010) no form of distance learning/e-tutoring in businesses education can substitute the face-to-face and intramural learning process. Distance learning/e-tutoring can stand as a supplement/verification method, though in all circumstances additional remuneration will be avoided as it may incline the tutor to focus on production of futile and void documentation and modules (and to replicate them), instead of clinging to individual, meaningful, quality result-driven learning process.

Individual/need-tailored approach: after 1st session matching and selection of the individual tutor/coach to assist the participant in business plan development/financial documents and network with relevant sector experts, remaining in permanent contact with the participant;

Outright emphasis on practical aspects: 60% of workload devoted to individual business plan development module and development of supporting financial documents; 40% to a component on running of a rural micro-entrepreneurship in BY: knowledge and know-how.

Particular emphasis will be placed on practical solutions and frameworks, including legal and institutional solutions, to empower via employment of selected clearly disadvantageous and risk groups: disabled and women via topic relevant education and training, fixtures arrangements, availability, flexible schedule of individual tutoring, including webinars.

Framework Items A/Curricula/Syllabus: five sessions

Session 1 will cover the following topics: business acumen; personal characteristics of the manager: creativity, assertiveness, negotiation skills; communication and presentation, including self-presentation; business potential of rural areas: services, tourism, recreation, agriculture and food processing, ICT/Information Communication Technologies, innovation in business; environmentally friendly technologies; business background and business environment in BY.

Session 2 will discuss: risk assessment and risk management; strategic planning; competition analysis; market analysis - theoretical foundations; demand on the local, domestic, regional and global market.

Session 3 will be devoted to operational and marketing planning; principles of marketing, product development, brand and image/introduction to international trade regulations, BY context; determination of the target group and choice of tools of promotion; case study; search for sales markets/sales forecasting; information analysis/search for data.

Session 4 will focus on milestones for financial planning; financial Projection; optimization of fixed costs; key approaches to start-up financial planning; overview of key widely accepted start-up financial worksheets and templates / work with worksheets and templates supplemented by individual consultations with a tutor (see: items B below); start-ups financing: access to private and public capital and an effective search for investors.

Session 5 will concentrate on partnerships, synergy/clusters; socially responsible business: social innovations, management innovations, inclusive employment, flexible forms of employment, Corporate Social Responsibility/CSR; motivation and staff training, internal PR, training courses, VET; legal basis: tax and labour law and employment regulations in BY.

Framework Items B Curricula/Syllabus/ individual work with a tutor/trainer and a sector tutor

The programme of individual learning process under the guidance of the personal tutor will be organized in accordance with the approach combining the Harvard "SCORE" Business Planning Methodology with the flexible Rural Women’s Network Pro Forma Business Plan formula (drawing on Action with Communities in Cumbria, UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs/DEFRA, re-applied locally within Local Action Groups/LAG under LEADER, European Commission/EC). The aim is twofold: to avoid self-limiting/groundless replication of high technology-oriented start-ups business plan approach, being inappropriate, as too rigid for the Belarus rural context. At the same time, integration of the social/gender/mothers/excluded and green/environmental added-value approach (added-value and side effects analysis, being an integral part of the business plan) spurs adaptation and implementation of community needs relevant management practices and innovations - essentially  remaining close to the social entrepreneurship model although the formula is avoided as slightly too limiting.

The work on a business plan will be organized around such issues as: the company’s objectives, product and service value added analyses, business environment analysis, industry background, feasibility analysis, additional social, ecological, environmental value analysis and relevant side-effects appraisal, competitor analysis, operational and marketing plan, management summary, risk analysis and its mitigation strategy; Additionally financial projections (incl. start-up expenses, balance sheet, amortization schedule), profit analysis, break-even analysis, cash flow statement, profit and loss Projection, sales forecast, combined making up a financial part of the business plan – the financial plan, clearly indicating the total costs of the project, broken into the grant part by the RBI and the contribution, either in-kind or financial (see sub-activity 4.1 for more), by the beneficiary.

The emphasis will be put not only on the content but also on the methodologically correct, clear and “teasing” form of documents.

2.3        Announce the program through local newspapers, website, leaflets, social media (repeat activity for each cycle of the Program).

The candidates are to be recruited from among the inhabitants of 4 districts of North-western Belarus / Project area: Myadel District (28 092, Belstat, 2011), Minsk Region, Astravyets District, (24 111, Belstat, 2011), Smorgon District, (56 000, Belstat, 2011) Grodno Region and Pastavy District (population 37 970, Belstat, 2011), Vitebsk Region; Inhabited by: 146 000 in total.

The enrolment will be preceded by a large-scale information campaign within the Project area (Local newspapers, Social Media, network of NGOs, the Project Partners and local authorities).

The special information meeting about Rural Busness School programm will be conducted before each edition of the RBS in each of 4 regions.

2.4        Collect applications and select participants for the Rural Business School Program (repeat 4 times for each cycle of the Program).

The recruitment formula consists of an interview checking the knowledge of the rules on carrying out business and the unique character of the local market (its needs and legal regulations). Moreover, the candidate presents his/her business idea and names the specific needs in terms of equipment / technology / purchases (thus indicating how the grant will be used). Finally, the CV of the candidate is analysed. 

The criteria for selection include:

·              feasibility and financial development potential of the presented business idea,

·              the candidate's knowledge of the unique character of the local market,

·              his/her motivation as well as past business and professional experience.

Irrespective of the above, the innovativeness of a Project, its added social value (e.g. the fact that it involves the disabled or helps mothers to return to the labour market) and the impact of the prospective investment/business on the natural environments (positive) are important factors taken into account during the selection.

10-12 participants will be selected for each edition of the Rural Business School, which makes in total 40-48 participants.

Participations of representatives of risk and disadvantageous groups, including disabled and women, will be encouraged and secured via targeted PR and tailored recruitment. Gender equality will be duly observed.

2.5        Run four cycles of 5 months long each (estimated) of the Rural Business School Program.

Each of five weekend (Friday evening to Sunday) session will include elements of group seminars (items A) and individual work with a tutor and/or a sector expert (items B): drawing up a business plan, getting acquainted with the relevant know-how. 24 learning hours are to be delivered per each session broken into: 9.5 h group seminars (items A) and 14.5 h individual work (items B). 

In order to be promoted and graduate from Rural Business School, the student has to be present at no less than four out fife sessions, has to develop a business plan, accompanied with the financial plan, being obligatory approved by the individual tutor and endorsed by the Education Programme Administrator.

Sessions take place once a month. In total at least 30 business plans are to be developed, from amongst 40-48 accepted participants of the Rural Business School. Whereas risk assumption is taken into account: we assume that up to 30% of the participants will resign or will not be able to develop the business plan or the plan, due to its poor quality, will not be approved or accepted by the Administrator of Educational Programmes.  

Additionally, in line with above, after the 1st session of RBS weekly e-learning sessions/individual on-line consultations on a business plan with the tutor are envisaged, the dates of which are to be established individually with the tutor.

The costs of board and accommodation are to be covered by the Incubator. The costs of transport are borne by participants on their own.

The anticipated schedule of the RBS editions is as follows: 1st edition: Month 6 - Month 10; 2nd edition: Month 12 - Month 16; 3rd edition: Month 18 - Month 22; 4th edition: Month 24 - Month 28.

Until the closure of Activity 1.2, reconstruction and modernization of Rural Business Incubator's premises, Month 18, the relevant space in Komarovo will be rented to hold the Rural Business School and other RBI activities, while an adequate envelope will be assigned for that purpose under the project's budget.

2.6        Evaluation of each of the four cycles by experts, project team and graduates (written anonymous evaluation form).

Evaluation form for participant will be developed by the Education program manager. Experts and project team make evaluation after each cycle and base improvement if necessary on its results.

Activities leading to Specific Objective 3.

3.1        Develop and design the Call for Proposals for the Rural Venture Grants Scheme, including the Application and Reporting package (instructions and forms) jointly with external experts.

At the end of each of 4 editions of the Rural Business School/RBS, five micro-grants will be allocated to the graduates of RBS under the Start-up weekends, EUR 44,500 in two lots, under different conditions in terms of eligible contributions. In each of 4 editions the amount will be allocated:

 - Under LOT 1 grants can spread between: EUR 2,000 – 5,000; both in kind and financial own contribution are eligible;

 - Under LOT 2 grants can spread between: EUR 5,000 – 10,000; Financial contribution is obligatory;

If not all money will be spent, the reminder will be reallocate for the next edition.

Conditions:

1. The business must be conducted and carried out within the project area exclusively.

2.Own contribution shall equal at least 40% of the micro grant/accepted business plan total budget, in line with the financial plan, being an integral part of the business plan.

3.The grants can be used only and exclusively for purchase of tools, equipment, new technologies/modernization of the current used and  to pay for required servises, marketing activities, branding, patents and adaptation of workplaces. The grant may not be used for purchase of premises/real estate, salaries, remuneration and job contracts, holding the events or seminars.

4. The grant can be awarded only once: successful beneficiaries cannot reapply even with a different project.

5. Winners should register a legal entity by the grant agreement signature.

Four Out-cycle Grants:

Upon the decision of the Board of Trustees and indicating the supplementary envelope per given Start-up Day edition and number of additional grants to be awarded (under LOTs) four additional grants will be disbursed (2 under LOT1 and 2 under LOT2), under the general rules, but outside the cycle of the Rural Business School: for non-graduates and graduates of the previous editions, in spite of not being awarded, being a flexibility principle. In total, four grants of a combined value of EUR 30,000 will be allocated outside the regular cycle. The grants awarded under the scheme are to follow the same criteria as under regular grant award procedures: the business plan, along financial plan shall be submitted and accepted by the Educational Pregame Manager, before being considered for Start-up weekends. The obligation to present the project during the Start-up weekends remains unchanged and binding for all.      

Altogether 24 grants will be awarded within the frames of the programme. Accordingly, the total sum of EUR 178.000 is to be allocated for grants under the project.

3.2         Announce and held the Rural Venture Grants Scheme. Planned for 4 rounds, each around midterm of a cycle of the Rural Business School Program

All graduates of the given edition of the Rural Business School will be invited to present their accepted (i.e. endorsed and approved by the Educational Programme Manager) business plans during the Start-up weekends.

The rules of awarding the grants, including short, non-technical guidelines and precise evaluation grid (containing scoring) will be made public 30 days before each Start-up weekend.

3.3        Start-up weekends for Applicants (1 per Grants Scheme cycle). Applicants present their business plan to a forum consisting of the project team, Board of Trustees, potential investors active in the project region and beyond, EU representation and potential donors for sustainable rural development

At the end of each edition of the Rural Business School, the Start-up weekends will be held, where the potential investors will be invited. Start-up weekends are to be held as a weekend, public attracting, and open-door event, preceded with extended PR and targeted networking action.

The aim of the Start-up weekends is three-fold: to select the best business ideas from among the ones produced by the graduates of the Rural Business School and award them with micro-grants; simultaneously to attract private investors/equity stakeholders to top up Incubator’s grant contribution, under flexible formula suiting start-up needs and investor's expectations (angel, venture capital, equity); and, eventually, to serve as a festival of entrepreneurship – to diffuse ideas and spur equitable and socially beneficial business innovations/concepts and attract newcomers for the next editions of the Rural Business School.

The accepted business (as above) plans are assessed by each of the member of Board of Trustees individually, accordingly to the following scoreboard:

·              Product/Service Feasibility (product and its features) 25 points,

·              Market Feasibility (market/competition/customer) 25 points,

·              Financial Feasibility (revenue steams, pay chains, simple margins, providers/costs of employees, long term profitability, exit strategies) 26 points,

·              Social impact (in particular job empowerment of focal risk: groups women, young mothers and disabled) 12 points,

·              Green and environmental innovations 12 points

(modified E.M. Kauffman Foundation approach); Max : 100 points in total; 

The scores awarded by the individual members are summed up and divided by the number of members of the Board to obtain the average score per given business plan/project.

ONLY the projects/the business plans that scored on average (as above) minimum 70 points (realistic threshold, inducing green and social equitable projects) out of 100 scoreboard points are to be considered for ANY grant award. Two separated average score based ranking lists for LOT1 and LOT2 are established accordingly. 

Under each edition of the Start-Up weekends, at least one grant from amongst 5, will be awarded for the project, heaving clear social-entrepreneurship (notion and concept of social entrepreneurship sensu stricto is still clearly non-existent in BY legal and institutional order) or green impact features: empowering women (young mothers in particular) and disabled in particular or having a clear positive impact on the environment.

The award and ranking lists will be published after each edition of Start-up weekends.

Equity model and private top-up:

The most desirable formula of grants' award is an equity/private top-up model: the required own contribution is covered/topped up by a private investor. The investor takes over shares in the start-up/company, pro rata to his contribution, pursuant to the company's articles of association. In line that the potential private investors will be invited to participate in Start-up weekends and beyond in other activities of the Incubator. Basing on the interest of the business in RBI (including the financial contributions committed) and recent diagnosis of regional business cycles (2013, Co-applicant), the Applicant assumes that the external investors will take up equity/any form of share, in at least 6 of 24 supported businesses/business enterprises, in various investment models.

The award of a grant is not conditional upon a commitment from the potential private investor.

3.4        Organise a winners meeting 4 times (one for each round) with reporting training for the winning ventures.

One-day Info Day will be held for all winning grants representatives, after signing of grant agreements, before the micro-grants registration process starts: practical training will be offered in terms of: grant's registration, general rules (provisions of the grant contract and its execution, possible changes, eligibility of activities and costs), merit narrative reporting requirements, financial reporting and installments payments principles (the envisaged general formula: 1st installment 40 %, 2nd 40%, 3rd 20%, with a certain degree of flexibility); Instruction will be provided on how to fill the required reporting files, necessary attachments and supporting docs; Visibility, PR and evaluation and audit requirements are to be discuss. Short networking session will supplement the event.

3.5        Grants disbursement and monitoring of the implementation of the ventures, providing support and assistance where necessary. Ensure proper reporting by the grantees.

The process of the grant contract development with the selected grantees starts immediately after each of 4 rounds of Start-up weekends.

The rights, obligations, disbursement and settlement formula with a beneficiary are stipulated in the individual grant contract. The accepted business plan, including the financial plan, being an integral part of the grant contract. The financial plan, to be annexed to the grant contract, will list and name the items/rows which will be funded from the grant, including indicative costs for each.

There are several milestones for grant contract signature. First of all, contract execution must be preceded by opening a separate sub-account, to have the grant transferred thereof. Grant contracts may be entered into only with BY private law legal entities, registered within the Project area and conducting their core business functions (EUROSTAT) within the Project area, therefore beneficiary shall register its private law legal entity, in line with BY legislation, whereas the format and type of. The Incubator will directly support the grantees with the registration.

The tasks assigned to the Incubator and the personal tutor of the beneficiary include legal assistance for the graduate during his negotiating a partnership agreement if the beneficiary concludes it with an investor.

The methods for securing the grant are as follows. First of all, the subvention/grant is secured with a blank bill of exchange. Furthermore, the grant should be returned in the event when a company fails to commence its business activity or uses the grant for the purposes other than provided for in the grant contract with the Incubator.

The grant is transferred into grantee account within 30 days after the grant contract is signed.

3.6        Plan, organise and shoot footage of the best practices and short documentaries of the most successful grantees (bilingual Belarusian and English) and promote them on the website and on conferences.

Three videos with the most successful stories of grantees will be produced to promote the Best Practices by the most successful grantees and one video about Komarovo Rural Business Incubator itself. Videos will be placed on website of the Incubator and promoted through social networks as well as suggested to National TV channels.

 

Outputs or immediate project products or results:

1.           Effective cross-sectoral cooperation in the rural EU border regions of Northwest Belarus concerning the promotion of local socially responsible entrepreneurship through the set-up of a Board of Trustees (Belarusian and international) embracing representatives of NGOs, relevant authorities, businesses and local rural leaders;

2.           Increased rural employment and chances for income generation in the rural EU border region of Northwest Belarus;

3.           Increased access of woman to financial resources for the kick-off of their socially and ecologically responsible ventures;

4.           More than 20 rural socially and ecologically responsible ventures started in the EU border region of Northwest Belarus;

5.           Active Komarovo Rural Business Incubator support of the rural population of the EU border region of  Northwest Belarus to take economic initiatives supporting both their families as well as the sustainable development of the region itself;

6.           Tailor-made and locally designed Rural Business School Program, which continues after the finalisation of this project through additional fundraising and local support.

7.           Increased capacity of 35-40 locals in business planning, organisational skills, management, financing and financial management through their participation and graduation at the Rural Business School Program.

8.           Three “White Books” developed and distributed, examining the obstacles and impediments to start and successfully run rural businesses and offering relevant recommendations, for policy makers as well as entrepreneurs.

Risks & risk-mitigation measures

1.Adverse external socio-economic factors as well as institutional and operational constraints:

This risk is mitigated by:

·              wide and consultative, feed-back oriented involvement of key stakeholders, including regional and local authorities; 

·              adopted rural employment and businesses stimulation approach being cross-sectoral cooperation conducive;

·              seeking synergies with all key relevant stakeholder initiatives and programmes in the field. 

·              prudent risk-preventive organizational and financial management, including decision-making, resources flows and monitoring; 

·              defined procedures and implementation schedule, entailing certain flexibility margins within the time-scale and change adaptation capacities;

·              transparent project implementation and openness about all project information;

·              open access to all stakeholders in the project region to participate in the project;

·              equal treatment of all clients and beneficiaries;

·              appropriate registration of the project as well as the Rural Venture Grants Scheme and the businesses it supports;

·              due observance of the Belarusian law.

 

2.Organizational problems within the lead organization and/or the project team. This is mitigated by:

·              Proper job descriptions and performance review of the team;

·              Transparency in communication within the team;

·              The guarantee of good performance by the lead organization because of their physical connectedness to the project region.

3.Reconstruction and modernization of the building will take more time than planned. This can be mitigated by hiring in open procedure professional, experienced companies for adaptation and separated one for a construction management (architectural project's execution and author's implementation supervision).

4. Burdensome, awkward and time and resources -consuming property ownership transfer process, under the concluded agreement.

Risk to be manged and mitigated by: involvement and active participation of the representatives of both local and regional authorities under all project stages and within its activities, transparency of the project, legal assistance envisaged, relevant extended networking by the Applicant and the co-Applicant;

Project monitoring & evaluation

Ensuring project implementation and reporting to the EU as per contract.

 

Based on the contracting requirements the project manager and team provide all necessary output / deliverables in a timely manner. The financial management is the task of the financial manager. This person must have experience in financial management of EU or international donor founded projects. In order to ensure proper implementation of the BY laws on financial management we have to keep the original invoices in the office, so that the reporting to the EU will be based on copies or scans of the originals.

The project will be implemented according to the best tested and widely-recognized standards, rules and practices of both the EU and relevant international in the field. Being designed, run and sustained in the way to directly and effectively address the needs of the target groups, beneficiaries and the communities within the project area for a long term, while its structure and management models applied will allow to seek and integrate the relevant feedbacks coming from thereof during the entire project and beyond. The changes in project's time-line and schedule can not be ruled out, although they are to be kept to a absolute minimum, at the same time the applied management model (including precautionary and risk-preventive management), along the clearly defined responsibilities and info-flows, will make the overall project structure more flexible, allowing timely, adequate and effective mitigation and adjustment strategy to be put in place, without delay and prejudice to project's outputs, results and overall impact. In case of any changes the EU will be timely, constantly, insightful and fully informed about the changes and consulted on the adjustments to be implemented accordingly.

We welcome active donorship of the EU and EU delegation in Belarus, we would like to see the EU team visit our project and the Incubator as often as possible. In addition we welcome an active role of the EU responsible contract manager to observe the meetings of the Board of Trustees in order to ensure an open and transparent project implementation.

PM4. Performance review of project team members and external experts.

The project manager reviews the performance of his/her project team on an annual basis. The performance review takes place through a written questionnaire filled out by both the supervisor and the team member. Besides the monitoring of the implementation of the actual tasks of each team member and/or expert it is important to review the communication within the team, external communication, level of cooperation with stakeholders, attitude to the work, etc. On these aspects both the project manager and the staff member give their opinion and discuss this in a performance review meeting. Also recommendations for the next year of work must be shared, from both parties.

For external experts the main review concerns the actual fulfilment of their Terms of Reference for their activities, however, in case of deviation of the ToR and/or changing circumstances a separate and/or additional performance review must take place in a written manner in order to build up the file and keep a track record for reporting and institutional memory.

For each project team member a clear job description must be prepared at the moment of signing their contract, in addition an overview of their tasks and duties in the first year of work must be provided as well so that it is mutually clear which activities, tasks and duties are going to be evaluated at the end of the year. For external experts a concise but clear and to-the-point ToR must be prepared upon hiring the actual external expert.

PM5. External audit and evaluation.

 

Audit is to be carried out by an independent, certified auditor. Audit will concern the Incubator as well as its beneficiaries/grantees. There is an external audit report expected at the end of the Project.

At the inception phase of the project, project management team will hire external Monitoring and Evaluation expert to developed monitoring plan of whole project. Monitoring will cover technical indicators (cash flow, calendar etc.) as well as indicators for strategic monitoring (at least - assumptions monitoring, outcome and impact monitoring, context monitoring). The decision-making flow is subject of the monitoring plan as well. Monitoring activities should ensure the documenting process of project implementation.

For subgranting projects the IMACON appraisal methodology (IMACON Model: Project Appraisal, Monitoring, Organisational Development, Gotin S.V., Vialuchka U.V, Vilnius, 2013, ISBN 978-609-420-306-0. (PDF version (Russian) for personal use is available for download from http://gotin.org/files/IMACON_2013.pdf)) will be used for project appraisal as well as for projects monitoring.

We are going to be organized in traditional way – by inviting independent expert (local and/or international). Evaluation will cover DAC criteria (effectiveness, efficiency, relevance and sustainability), will be focused on lessons learned as well as follow-up recommendations. Special focus we are going to make on evaluation cross-cutting issues, like mainstreaming gender, disability and environmental friendliness of the project implementation.

Subject matter external evaluation of the Project: two mid-term interim reports and a final report is envisaged, being contracted out to the external evaluation.

 

Project’s schedule or indicative action plans

The duration of the action will be 36 months.

                         

Year 1

Half-year 1

Half-year 2

Activity

Month 1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

Implementing body

PM1. Registration process of the overall project with the Belarusian authorities.

Applicant

PM2. Selection process for the project team and Board of Trustees.

Applicant and Co-applicant

Meeting of the Board of Trustees

Applicant

PM3. Ensuring project implementation and reporting to the EU as per contract.

Applicant and Co-applicant

PM4. Performance review of project team members and external experts.

Applicant and Co-applicant

PM5. External audit and evaluation.

Applicant

1.1 Registration of the legal entity Komarovo Rural Business Incubator.

Applicant

1.2 Restructuring, modernization, adaptation and furnishing of the 19th century building for Komarovo Rural Business Incubator.

Applicant

1.3 Set-up and constantly run services and assistance program for potential entrepreneurs, applicants to the Rural Business School Program and the winning grantees.

Applicant and Co-applicant

1.4 Data collection for the research on three “White Books”, based upon ongoing experiences of starting entrepreneurs and project experts.

Applicant and Co-applicant

1.5 Round tables sessions with (inter)national experts, estimated 4 times during data collection and drafting “White Books.

Applicant and Co-applicant

1.6 Drafting, design and editing three “White Books”.

Applicant and Co-applicant

1.7Awareness raising and dissemination of the work of the Komarovo Rural Business Incubator (website, social media accounts, annual report, leaflets, PR, promotional conferences, open days and seminars).

Applicant

1.8 Annual project results conference, closure conference at the last month of the project at the Komarovo Rural Business Incubator.

Applicant and Co-applicant

2.1 Recruit the experts for the Rural Business School Program.

Applicant

2.2 Design the curriculum and all content of the Rural Business School Program. The Program will takes 5 months and will be run 4 times during project implementation.

Applicant and Co-applicant

2.3 Announce the program through website, leaflets, social media (repeat activity for each cycle of the Program).

Applicant

2.4 Collect applications and select participants for the Rural Business School Program (repeat 4 times for each cycle of the Program).

Applicant

2.5 Run four cycles of 5 months long each (estimated) of the Rural Business School.

1  cycle

1  cycle

Aplicant

3.1 Develop and design the Call for Proposals for the Rural Venture Grants Scheme, including the Application and Reporting package (instructions and forms) jointly with external experts.

Applicant

                         

2 year

Half-year 3

Half-year 4

Activity

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

Meeting of the Board of Trustees

Applicant

PM3. Ensuring project implementation and reporting to the EU as per contract.

Applicant and Co-applicant

PM4. Performance review of project team members and external experts.

Applicant and Co-applicant

PM5. External audit and evaluation.

Applicant

1.2 Restructuring, modernization, adaptation and furnishing of the 19th century building for Komarovo Rural Business Incubator.

Applicant

1.3 Set-up and constantly run services and assistance program for potential entrepreneurs, applicants to the Rural Business School Program and the winning grantees.

Applicant

1.4 Data collection for the research on three “White Books”, based upon ongoing experiences of starting entrepreneurs and project experts.

Applicant and Co-applicant

1.5 Round tables sessions with (inter)national experts, estimated 4 times during data collection and drafting “White Books.

Applicant and Co-applicant

1.6 Drafting, design and editing three “White Books”.

Applicant and Co-applicant

1.7Awareness raising and dissemination of the work of the Komarovo Rural Business Incubator (website, social media accounts, annual report, leaflets, PR, promotional conferences, open days and seminars).

Applicant

1.8 Annual project results conference, closure conference at the last month of the project at the Komarovo Rural Business Incubator.

Applicant and Co-applicant

1.9 Study visits/tours for relevant ministries’ representatives, regional policy makers and local authorities.

Applicant and Co-applicant

2.3 Announce the program through website, leaflets, social media (repeat activity for each cycle of the Program).

Applicant and Co-applicant

2.4 Collect applications and select participants for the Rural Business School Program (repeat 4 times for each cycle of the Program).

Applicant

2.5 Run four cycles of 5 months long each (estimated) of the Rural Business School.

1  cycle

1  cycle

1  cycle

2 cycle

2 cycle

2 cycle

2 and 3 cycle

2 and 3 cycle

3 cycle

3 cycle

3 cycle

4 cycle

Applicant

2.6 Evaluation of each of the four cycles by experts, project team and graduates (written anonymous evaluation form).

Applicant

3.2 Announce and held the Rural Venture Grants Scheme. Planned for 4 rounds, each around midterm of a cycle of the Rural Business School Program.

Applicant

3.3 Start-up weekends for Applicants.

Applicant and Co-applicant

3.4 Organise a winners meeting  4 times.

Applicant

3.5 Grants disbursement and monitoring of the implementation of the ventures, providing support and assistance where necessary.

Applicant

3.6 Plan, organise and shoot footage of the best practices and short documentaries of the most successful grantees (bilingual Belarusian and English) and promote them on the website and conferences.

Applicant

                                                                                                         

3d Year

3 year

Half-year 5

Half-year 6

Activity

25

26

27

28

29

30

31

32

33

34

35

36

Meeting of the Board of Trustees

Applicant

PM3. Ensuring project implementation and reporting to the EU as per contract.

Applicant and Co-applicant

PM4. Performance review of project team members and external experts.

Applicant and Co-applicant

PM5. External audit and evaluation.

Applicant

1.3 Set-up and constantly run services and assistance program for potential entrepreneurs, applicants to the Rural Business School Program and the winning grantees.

Applicant and Co-applicant

1.4 Data collection for the research on three “White Books”, based upon ongoing experiences of starting entrepreneurs and project experts.

Applicant and Co-applicant

1.5 Round tables sessions with (inter)national experts, estimated 4 times during data collection and drafting “White Books.

Applicant and Co-applicant

1.6 Drafting, design and editing three “White Books”.

Applicant and Co-applicant

1.7Awareness raising and dissemination of the work of the Komarovo Rural Business Incubator (website, social media accounts, annual report, leaflets, PR, promotional conferences, open days and seminars).

Applicant

1.8 Annual project results conference, closure conference at the last month of the project at the Komarovo Rural Business Incubator.

Applicant and Co-applicant

1.9 Study visits/tours for relevant ministries’ representatives, regional policy makers and local authorities.

Applicant and Co-applicant

2.3 Announce the program through website, leaflets, social media (repeat activity for each cycle of the Program).

Applicant and Co-applicant

2.4 Collect applications and select participants for the Rural Business School Program (repeat 4 times for each cycle of the Program).

Applicant

2.5 Run four cycles of 5 months long each (estimated) of the Rural Business School.

4 cycle

4 cycle

4 and 5 cycle

4 and 5 cycle

5 cycle

5 cycle

5 cycle

Applicant

2.6 Evaluation of each of the four cycles by experts, project team and graduates (written anonymous evaluation form).

Applicant and Co-applicant

3.2 Announce and held the Rural Venture Grants Scheme. Planned for 4 rounds, each around midterm of a cycle of the Rural Business School Program.

Applicant and Co-applicant

3.3 Start-up weekends for Applicants.

Applicant and Co-applicant

3.4 Organise a winners meeting  4 times.

Applicant

3.5 Grants disbursement and monitoring of the implementation of the ventures, providing support and assistance where necessary.

Applicant

3.6 Plan, organise and shoot footage of the best practices and short documentaries of the most successful grantees (bilingual Belarusian and English) and promote them on the website and conferences.

Applicant

Original full proposal