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DRIVES Belarus Success Story: Chocolate Company

Startup Competition Brings Ideas to Life, Part IV

This is part four in a four-part spotlight series on successes in the Delivering Regional Instruction Vital to Entrepreneurial Success (DRIVES) Program, funded by the United States Agency for International Development. The program’s goal is to improve access to high-quality business education for small- and medium-sized enterprises across Belarus. Pyxera Global implements DRIVES in cooperation with international and local partners including the Global Business Schools Network and  IPM Business School in Minsk.

Ksenia Popruga’s background is in economics. She spent several years working in that field, but eventually found that she could no longer deny her love of cooking. She decided to turn her passion of making chocolate into her full-time career.

Her initial idea was to create a brick and mortar chocolate shop – one that was modeled after cozy cafés. She wanted to create an atmosphere of creativity and ease inspired by family values. She also wanted her business to appeal to tourists and other visitors.

Ksenia came across the Best Start-Up Idea Competition in 2016 and decided to apply. While she had a great concept, she soon realized she needed the business and management know-how to bring her idea to fruition. Throughout the competition, Ksenia worked closely with her mentors, attended every meeting, and worked tirelessly on the formation of her business plan. She began to realize that start-up costs for opening her chocolate shop would be very high, and it might take a long time before she ever saw a profit.

While working with her mentor, they brainstormed ways to cut down initial costs. Instead of setting up a storefront, Ksenia could create gift sets composed of sweets, custom-made individual cakes, and desserts for distribution. This would cut down on start-up costs immensely, and still support her passion for cooking and desserts.

Ksenia embraced this new, cost-effective idea and launched into the design process. Her competition mentor owned a production company, so they worked together to launch the dessert gift-sets. This line of desserts is now sold throughout the city’s supermarkets.

By participating in the Best Start-Up Idea competition, she gained valuable skills and connections that allowed her idea to thrive. Ksenia said that the competition provided her access to quality educational materials on business organization, new acquaintances, and advice on how to pursue her idea. It was also a really great opportunity to express herself and develop her business from the concept phase to implementation.

In addition to her current collection of chocolate gift sets, Ksenia is currently working on new recipes and preparing to launch an online store.

This story is made possible by the support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) as part of the Delivering Regional Instruction Vital to Entrepreneurial Success project implemented by Pyxera Global. The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of Pyxera Global and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.


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