By Leman Mammadova
Azerbaijan continues to enhance the role and competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the country's economy.
As a part of support to the entrepreneurs’ activities, the Agency for Development of SMEs has been operating in Azerbaijan since 2018. As a single structure with special powers, the Agency organizes, coordinates, evaluates and regulates the services provided by government agencies and organizations in this area through SME houses.
In addition, the Agency establishes the Friend of SMEs offices in the country as a mechanism that helps to identify and implement initiatives of SMEs, realize their potential, provide them with support at all stages of their development and protect the rights of entrepreneurs.
The next Friend of SMEs office has been opened in Shamakhi, the Agency for Development of SMEs said in a message.
At present, Friends of SMEs are operating in 14 cities and regions of the country, and entrepreneurs from surrounding areas can also use their services.
The activities of the Friends of SMEs are focused on a region's development potential through the creation of new SMEs and the development of the existing ones. To this end, potential investment projects are identified and promoted through SMEs.
Another key aspect of Friends of SMEs' activity is the provision of SMEs with multiple supports for their sustainable development needs. Activities in this direction include expansion of access to existing state support mechanisms, ensuring of SMEs’ smooth and convenient access to these supports, application of numerous support mechanisms by the Agency.
At the same time, surveys and monitoring are another important direction of the activities of Friends of SMEs. Being in close contact with entrepreneurs, Friends of SMEs learn entrepreneurs' development needs through surveys.
The share of SMEs in employment in Azerbaijan was 76 percent last year, and in recent years, comprehensive work has been carried out for the development of SMEs. In particular, inspections of business entities have been suspended and the process of obtaining licenses has been simplified.
The share of SMEs in Azerbaijan’s foreign trade is planned to increase to 40 percent after 2025.
Leman Mammadova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @leman_888
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