By Mirsaid Ibrahimzade
Azerbaijan is actively working on the improvement of the role of the private sector by issuing concessional loans that have more favorable terms and conditions than those offered by the commercial finance market.
The conference entitled "Concessional financial state support in the development of innovative entrepreneurship" was held in Baku on July 31.
The event was attended by representatives of government agencies, entrepreneurs from cities and regions, as well as private business companies.
Sahib Mammadov, Deputy Minister of Economy, stated within the framework of the conference that the Entrepreneurship Development Fund, operating under the Ministry of Economy, has issued concessional loans in the amount of 2.3 billion manats ($1.35 billion) so far.
Speaking at the event, Mammadov emphasized that more than 36,000 entrepreneurs received funding in the framework of projects worth 5.2 billion manats ($3.05 billion).
He stressed that thanks to these loans, 166,000 new job places were opened.
“One billion manats ($0.58 billion) of loans was issued at the expense of the state budget, and 1.3 billion manats ($0.76 billion) - at the expense of returned loans. Of this amount, 74 percent of loans were issued to businessmen of the regions, and 26 percent - to businessmen operating in the districts of Baku,” he said.
Mammadov noted that about 68 percent of loans were directed to the agricultural sector, and 32 percent - to various industries.
Moreover, he added that 396 business forums and meetings were held under Entrepreneurship Development Fund with the participation of more than 52,000 entrepreneurs.
The last work forum which was held on July 18 gave detailed information to entrepreneurs about the mechanism for obtaining concessional loans from the Entrepreneurship Development Fund under the Ministry of Economy.
Presentations were held on introductory projects of creating farms for growing olives, saffron, grapes, almonds, logistics centers in Absheron region, with the purpose of developing its economic potential.
Within the framework of the conference, Sahib Mammadov pointed out that the development of entrepreneurship remains one of the important tasks of the state policy and active work will be continued in this direction which is aimed at building a strong innovation model of the economy.
Then, addressing the event, Faig Abbasov, Deputy Chairman of the Board of the Agency for the Development of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), said that the reforms carried out in the economic sphere in Azerbaijan in recent years contributed to the development of the business environment and the introduction of innovations.
Abbasov noted that the recent amendments made to the tax legislation of Azerbaijan served as a great impetus in the development of innovative entrepreneurship.
He noted that today, through the SME Development Agency, projects are being implemented aimed at supporting and strengthening business activities and creating optimal conditions for business promotion.
Within the framework of the conference, Vugar Zeynalov, Vice President of the National Confederation of Entrepreneurs’ (Employers’) Organizations, stated that for the development and support of entrepreneurship in Azerbaijan, first of all, it is necessary to expand training programs in the regions.
Zeynalov noted that a strong business model is being created in Azerbaijan, and mechanisms are being developed for the application of innovative technologies in the field of entrepreneurship.
"A favorable business environment is being formed in Azerbaijan today, projects are being implemented in the field of agriculture, a network of start-ups is expanding in this area. All these innovative approaches help strengthen the potential of the private sector and create a competitive environment,” he said.
Zeynalov added that the introduction of innovative technologies in the field of small and medium business contributes to the institutional business development. He said that projects implemented in this area and the creation of business incubators are a great help to develop a single technological system of innovation used in business.
He concluded that National Confederation is implementing a number of projects aimed at supporting the development of innovative entrepreneurship in the country's regions.
A number of important activities have been implemented and will be implemented within the framework of the National Employment Strategy (2016-2030) which was developed with the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) technical assistance within the framework of the Youth Employment project and submitted to the government.
The ILO works with its three constituents – Ministry of Labor and Social Protection, the Confederation of Trade Unions and the National Confederation of Employers (Entrepreneurs).
Within the conference, the Azerbaijani Entrepreneurship Development Fund and the Turkish Small and Medium Enterprises Development Organization signed a memorandum on cooperation and exchange of experience in the field of entrepreneurship.
The agreement envisages further cooperation in the development of small and medium-sized businesses between the two countries.
Mirsaid Ibrahimzade is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @MirsaidIbrahim1
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