By Leman Mammadova
The Agency for Development of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) launched a new Friend of SMEs and a greenhouse farm in Shamkir region on October 16.
This is the second Friend of SMEs in Ganja-Gazakh economic region and the eighteenth in the country.
The entrepreneurs operating in Shamkir region have been informed about the services and support mechanisms provided by Friend of SMEs to micro, small and medium-sized businesses at the event dedicated to the opening of the new Friend of SMEs office.
Orkhan Mammadov, Chairman of the Board of SME Development Agency, said that SMEs in Shamkir region and surrounding areas can address the new center regarding opening a business, expanding the business activities, as well as protection of rights and interests.
Friend of SMEs in the Shamkir region will provide support and services to SMEs in such areas as information, advice, training, legal assistance, and coordination with government agencies.
Inviting entrepreneurs to close cooperation with the Friend of SMEs, Mammadov noted that the network “Friend of SMEs” will cover other cities and regions of the country.
Later, a presentation on the concept of Friend of SMEs was also held. The event also featured an educational video on domestic market research, a new government support mechanism for SMEs. Then, the event participants got acquainted with the Friend of SMEs office to be operated in the Shamkir Youth Center.
On the same day, Azagro LLC’s greenhouse was opened in the village of Saritapa in Shamkir region with the support of SME Development Agency.
The project was implemented based on an investment promotion document and has been invested 2.3 million manats ($1.35 million). The greenhouse, created in accordance with the Dutch company Cherthon’s project, cultivates flowers on the area of 1 hectare based on innovative technologies. The annual production capacity of the farm is 1.5-2 million flowers.
The greenhouse will contribute positively to increased non-oil exports and employment in the region. The flowers grown here will be sold both on the domestic and foreign markets, like Georgia, Russia. About 30 local residents are employed in the greenhouse.
In a bid to expand the activities of the Azagro, the Agency has provided support in such areas as consulting and legal advisory services, coordination with relevant government agencies, information on public support mechanisms and access to them.
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.
SME Development Agency continues to establish the Friend of SMEs offices across Azerbaijan 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 activities of the Friends of SMEs are focused on a regions' development potential through the creation of new SMEs and the development of the existing ones. Another key aspect of Friends of SMEs' activity is the provision of SMEs with multiple supports for their sustainable development needs. The surveys and monitoring are also the important directions of the activities of Friends of SMEs.
Leman Mammadova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @leman_888
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