Three-fourths of Belarus' small businesses had been seriously affected by the global economic crisis by the middle of this past summer, Alyaksandr Abrashkevich, an economic counselor at the Minsk office of the International Finance Corporation, told BelaPAN with reference to a survey recently conducted by the IFC.
The survey targeted small and medium-sized enterprises and small business owners with sole entrepreneur status. The survey found that the crisis had affected these categories of businesses in all sectors of the Belarusian economy and especially those engaged in construction and transport services, Mr. Abrashkevich said.
Among the most frequently mentioned effects of the crisis were lower sales, fewer orders, payment delays, the suspension of investment projects and less favorable loan conditions, he said.
As a result, more than 80 percent of the surveyed small and medium-sized enterprises and more than 70 percent of the sole entrepreneurs had to suspend new projects, abandon expansion plans, reduce staff pay, shorten work weeks, cut jobs and take some other measures to reduce their costs, Mr. Abrashkevich said.
These steps were enough to "stabilize the situation" in only one of three cases, he said.
As many as 47 percent of the surveyed construction businesses reported some stabilization against only 10 percent in the industrial sector, Mr. Abrashkevich said. Small business owners are mostly pessimistic about the future, with about half of them expecting the demand for their products to fall even further by the end of the year, he noted.