Updated at 18:18,16-07-2018

Director of a hostel chain: Make a billion in Belarus? Easy!

Kristina Sukharevich, UDF.BY

At the age of 20 a Belarusian student raised $100.000 of investment to create a hostel chain in Minsk. For 2 years shes been running this successful business.

Kseniya Kurus, 22, is a student of law school at Belarusian Institute of Law. Since 2012 the girl has been running Hostel Traveller company that consists of two hostels located in the quiet yard in Minsks Trinity Hill.

One of them, Trinity Hostel, is the venue of our interview.

The hostel has a homely atmosphere, but the rules are home-style too: regardless of your status, guest or a journalist, after entering the hostel, please take off your shoes and put slippers on.

Kseniya allots 19 minutes for the interview as her schedule is full. However, this time is enough to find out how to become a billionaire in Belarus and what temper you should have to take charge of a company at the age of 20.

Who wants to be a rouble billionaire?

At first, Kseniyas road to success looks simple. Working for a tourism agency, one day she got an idea to create a hostel for tourists in Minsk. Or better a hostel chain.

Kseniya created a business plan (nobody believed in), searched for information on the Internet, consulted with her universitys economics professor. She encountered a news article on Start-up Weekend in Minsk a meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors and went to raise money for her dream. The girl convinced the organizers that she had to present her idea. And it looked attractive to Aleksandr Knyrovich who invested $100.000 into Kseniyas plan.

Director of a hostel chain: Make a billion in Belarus? Easy!

Kseniya in her hostel. Photo: Aleksandr Aleinikov

Finding an investor and starting a business is just the beginning, Kseniya says. The most difficult part is daily work:

With my fellow entrepreneurs we have a joke: Belarus is a country for strong ones. There are some, lets say, specificities of doing business in our country But its not bad, its rather interesting! Like a daily personal challenge: Will I manage it or not?

Actually, its possible to make a fortune in Belarus or Germany, or elsewhere personality of an Achiever comes first, and only after this comes the business environment. The main thing is to do something, and to do it well.

The first hostel Traveller opened on May 12, 2012 in a detached building in Chizhovka area. The owner lived in the hostel-to-be and even supervised the restoration works. Then she worked as a front-desk person, to understand what to require from employees.

Soon she realized she has to move to the city centre.

The second hostel opened in October on the 6th floor of a residential building at Maksima Tanks street. Another problem occurred: the residents didnt like the idea of neighbouring with a hostel and started complaining. So Kseniya had to move from there as well.

Today Riverside and Trinity hostels are located in the very centre of the city on the Trinity Hill.

Director of a hostel chain: Make a billion in Belarus? Easy!

My story is like one described in Robert Kiyosakis book Rich Dad Poor Dad, - says Kseniya. The book reveals secrets of a special financial thinking that leads to wealth. For example, instead of saying I cant afford it you should ask yourself How can I afford it? It also says that rather than looking for a good job, create your own and learn how to hire talented people. Calm readiness for risks, failures and possible financial losses is one of the main business strategies, because bankruptcy is temporary, while poverty is permanent.

With these principles in mind, Kseniya was building her business.

I started working when I was 13. Among my working places were McDonalds and municipal services

The entrepreneur made her first steps to big money far earlier the Start-Up Weekend, being a teenager: I started working when I was 13. Among my working places were McDonalds and municipal services

On one of these jobs Kseniya came up with an idea of hostels.

At the age of 18 she used to sell tourist packages and she did like how a tourism agency works. So Kseniya thought how cool it would be to create a tourism project!

Work experience and numerous travels added ideas for the future business:

In Budapest I was impressed by a hostels large living room. In Amsterdam I got a map with indicated bars and tips. They said something like in this bar you can show an inappropriate gesture to the owner and get a 15% discount. This is cool and funny! Just imagine such a move towards the owner from a decent person! As a result, we made a map as well. Its more conservative but with markers of cool places. I have a collection of Minsk maps, but ours is the best.

The girl attended many free business trainings and courses for independent entrepreneurs. She continues doing so today and reads much of business literature.

Director of a hostel chain: Make a billion in Belarus? Easy!I think in Belarus needs a social system where everyone will be entrepreneurs. When everyone knows that everything in economy is interconnected: if your business fails, someone elses one will fail too. Then everyone becomes socially responsible. Social responsibility should be the mission for each businessman and each citizen.

I have goals for next 5 years, one year, one month and one week

The businesswoman is convinced that in order to combine active work with family life (Kseniya is married) and seeing friends its vital to plan beforehand. For everyday time management she uses Eisenhower matrix and recommends it to others.

After 18:00 family is my main priority. Weekends are only for family and close friends. Though, of course, exclusions happen.

Kseniya has clear plans: she knows well what she is going to do both in 5 days and in 5 years.

The young hostess, who is younger than some of her subordinates, talks about her age very unwillingly and demonstrates that this topic is not of an interest to her:

Age does not affect anything. Someone has a very vivid life at the age of 19, others dont. Someone wants to be a director, others dont. Each person is successful depending on what goals they set and how they accomplish them. If a person is immature, its not about the age.

Director of a hostel chain: Make a billion in Belarus? Easy!

Trinity hosted Russian top managers and even the Japan ambassador to Lithuania

A cozy and cordial hostel is attractive even to those who can afford to stay at an expensive hotel. Trinity hosted Russian top managers and even the Japan ambassador to Lithuania! According to Kseniya, more and more people opt into cozy and low-budget hostels:

Tourists prefer saving on lodging and spending more on tours, bars and entertainment.

But the main thing people want is a special atmosphere.

Such a trend inspires hope that hostels will retain their popularity and profitability despite the growing number of hotels in Minsk.

We ask Kseniya: Is it possible to make a billion roubles in Belarus? The girl says through laughter: With such an exchange rate? Easy!

Trinity Hostel. Video: poshykinfo

Some figures on hostels and tourism in Belarus

The first hostel in Belarus called Jazz opened in October of 2010 in Vitebsk.

According to the official statistics, there are 7 hostels in Minsk today.

In 2013 foreign tourists made 6,2 million visits to Belarus (the Belarusians travelled abroad 8,8 million times). During the same period, the number of foreign tourists who stayed in hotels and other such lodgings is only 0,9 million people, which is 6,7 times as few as the number of visits.

As of 2013, there are 481 hotels in the country. Since 2005 this figure has increased by 46%.

The majority of Belarusian hotels (70%) have 3 stars. There are also hotels with 1 star, they take 2%-share.

In 2013 Belarusian hotels hosted 1,8 million people, 63% of whom were Belarusians travelling domestically.

More than 80% of foreign tourists in 2013 were Russian. Polish tourists are in the second place (2,3%), the third place is taken by the Turks (1,5%).

The average load of Minsk hotels between 2005 and 2013 was 41-46%.

The photos were provided by Kseniya Kurus