Baku, Azerbaijan, June 14
On June 12, U.S. Ambassador Lee Litzenberger inaugurated the Women’s Resource Center (WRC) and Youth Employment and Training (“Syslab”) Center in Zaqatala. Joining him were Hijran Huseynova, Chairperson of the State Committee for Family, Women and Children’s Affairs; Alessandro Fracassetti, Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Program; and Tofig Ahmadov, Deputy Head of the Zaqatala Executive Committee. The WRC and Syslab Center were established under the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Economic Empowerment for Entrepreneurship and Employment project implemented by the United Nations Development Program in collaboration with the State Committee for Family, Women and Children Affairs and the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Population.
With nearly 200 members, the WRC in Zaqatala creates economic and social opportunities for women through a broad range of services such as computer and internet access; training programs on presentation skills, financial literacy, and business development; and a friendly social space outside the home. Fifteen women entrepreneurs in Zaqatala have been selected to receive small grants to start their own businesses. Ambassador Litzenberger visited two of these women-owned businesses -- a tailoring shop and an arts center that offers drawing and stained glass courses.
The Youth Syslab Center provides professional training programs and mentorship services to help youth become more qualified for the workforce and links them to potential employers and job vacancies. To date, the Center in Zaqatala has trained 29 young people on CV development, job interviews, career planning, and networking.
Ambassador Litzenberger also participated in the opening of an Agricultural Service Center in Mukhakh village, Zaqatala, which is owned and managed by the Azerbaijan Hazelnut Producers and Exporters Association. The center will rent tractors, sprayers and mowers and offer agricultural consultancy services for an affordable fee to small farm owners, for whom purchasing this type of machinery and hiring a full-time agronomist is not feasible. These services will help growers improve their farm’s efficiency, boost their production and yields, and increase profits. USAID provided agricultural machinery and equipment to the Center, including two American AGCO Valtra tractors. USAID has worked with over a thousand hazelnut growers in Azerbaijan to introduce modern growing practices and helped processors. USAID-supported hazelnut producers and exporters have increased their exports by $36 million.
On June 13, U.S. Ambassador Litzenberger joined residents of Zaqatala’s Yukhari Chardakhlar to celebrate the completion of a water supply system project that will improve water access for more than 2,400 people in the community. The project is part of USAID’s Socio-Economic Development Activity (SEDA), implemented by the East-West Management Institute, in collaboration with the Ministry of Economy. Since 2011, SEDA communities have implemented 145 projects that include activities supporting local economies, medical facilities, roads in rural areas, water and irrigation systems, and local school renovations.