By Mirsaid Ibrahimzade
Small and medium-sized businesses play an important role in development of a country's economy. Development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) leads to the growth of entrepreneurship which is one of the priority directions of Azerbaijan’s economic policy.
Presentation of the House of SMEs project was held in Baku on May 1.
Orkhan Mammadov, Chairman of the Board of the Agency for the Development of SMEs, told reporters at the presentation of the project that the first House of SMEs will open in the Narimanov district of Baku until the end of the year. He said that there are plans to open several Houses of SMEs in Baku.
“More than 110 permits from 30 state structures will be issued in the House,” Mammadov said. “It will operate on such algorithms as “start business”, “run business”, “develop business” and “support business”.”
He stressed that the main purpose of the creation of the House of SMEs is to ensure prompt, transparent and convenient access to financial resources.
Mammadov also noted that the e-SME website is planned to be launched after the opening of the House of SMEs.
This online platform to be created by the Agency will provide an opportunity for online communication between financial institutions and entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to present their projects to all interested parties online, and this will also minimize the loss of time.
Speaking at the event, Mammadov stated that creation of Houses of SMEs will expand the range of services rendered to the enterprises in Azerbaijan.
"Earlier, the first meeting of the Coordination Group consisting of plenipotentiaries of the state agencies was arranged. The Group operates under the Agency for the Development of SMEs,” he said. “At the meeting, effective discussions were held. It was recommended to improve the coordination of the policy of developing SMEs and address issues related to the creation of Houses of SMEs.”
The chairman added that joint cooperation within this format will make a significant contribution to the implementation of the course of reforms announced by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
“The development of the SMEs sector has become a special sphere of the state policy for the development of modern economy, to which particular importance is attached,” he said.
Then Mammadov stated that the development strategy being implemented under the leadership of the president has always focused on the development of SMEs sector in the country and systemic measures in this direction have been implemented within the state programs adopted over the past years.
In addition, Mammadov added that the role of entrepreneurs has grown in the society, who have become an active force supporting the course of economic reforms in Azerbaijan.
Mammadov further stressed that there is a big potential in the country’s economy in the sphere of growth of the SMEs sector.
"Sustainable development priorities have put forward new requirements for this sector and this must be taken into account,” he said. “The creation of the Agency for the Development of SMEs and the documents signed by the president to ensure its activity testifies to the attention paid to this sector and covers the issues that will lead to the fundamental changes in the development of the SMEs sector.”
In turn, Azerbaijan’s Deputy Economy Minister Niyazi Safarov said at the event that the share of SMEs in employment in Azerbaijan was 76 percent last year, and in recent years, comprehensive work has been carried out in Azerbaijan for the development of SMEs.
He noted that, in particular, inspections of business entities have been suspended and the process of obtaining licenses has been simplified.
Moreover, Safarov stated that five industrial parks including Sumgait Chemical Industrial Park, Garadagh, Balakhani, Mingachevir and Pirallahi industrial parks, and four industrial districts in Neftchala, Hajigabul, Masalli and Sabirabad have been created in Azerbaijan.
He also said that so far, 35,800 entrepreneurs received preferential loans worth 2.3 billion manats ($1.35 billion).
“Investment promotion documents were issued regarding 362 projects,” he noted. “Within these projects, which cover eight economic regions of Azerbaijan, it is planned to invest up to $3 billion and create up to 23,700 new jobs.”
Speaking at presentation, Mammad Musayev, President of the National Confederation of Entrepreneurs (Employers) Organizations of Azerbaijan, pointed out that there are more than 130,000 business entities operating in Azerbaijan and about 80 percent of them are SMEs.
Musayev said that 309 million soft loans were given to 31,000 entrepreneurs in 15 years, which covered almost all regions of the country.
The main task of the Agency for the Development of SMEs under the Ministry of Economy is to ensure the succession of reforms, the improvement of the business regulation system, and the application of effective coordination, enhancing the role and competitiveness of SMEs in the country's economy, as well as the compliance of the management system in this area with modern requirements.
Mirsaid Ibrahimzade is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @MirsaidIbrahim1
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