Azerbaijan, Baku, Nov. 30 / Trend E. Tariverdiyeva /
At present, Azerbaijan is booming economically, an expert at Harvard Kennedy School's International Security Program and a Research Fellow at Yale University Azeem Ibrahim said in his article published in HuffingtonPost.
"GDP per person, still the best measure indicating economic growth, saw Azerbaijan's ten-year percentage from 2001 to 2010 ranked second in the world," he said. "Growing at about 25 per cent a year, this secular though predominantly Muslim country's economy has transitioned from its post-Soviet background to a healthy market economy today."
He said that the next major resource of Azerbaijan after its oil and gas is its youth.
A recent conference I attended in Baku, sponsored by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), established the Youth Entrepreneurs Network (ICYEN) and reinforced the need for recognition of young people as a growing force and resource for the future, he said.
Azerbaijan recognizes this and is to be congratulated on establishing initiatives to foster the talent, energy and hopes of young people who will provide the expertise to continue building the economy in the near future, he added.
The Azerbaijani President's eldest daughter Leyla Aliyeva hosted this first conference for young entrepreneurs, building on a policy that has already seen some far-sighted initiatives, he said.
Major international donors have implemented programs in Azerbaijan in the years since the Soviet breakup, in the hope of cultivating a strong democratic society and an open market economy, he said.
Azerbaijan is taking steps to promote democracy by consolidating its own national economy. The role that business and commerce play in democratization is a vital one, leaving international corporations out of the equation, and it is a compelling fact that responsible small businesses can anchor a society, he said.
"Young entrepreneurs are a major piece in this process, given the boundless enthusiasm and energy of the younger generation," he said. "Immediate growth areas are tourism, technology and services to the energy industry. Women entrepreneurs are being encouraged too, by providing them with the necessary skills and resources to start their own businesses."
A measure of the growing presence of entrepreneurship in Azerbaijan is the recent introduction of online tax registration. The system was introduced in July 2011, he said.
The Azerbaijani National Confederation of Entrepreneurs is asking for tax concessions for the development of tourism businesses to reduce costs for entrepreneurs. 2011 is the Year of Tourism and international interest is growing in the Eurovision Song Contest to be held in Baku in May 2012, he said.
The Islamic Countries Youth Entrepreneurs Network is an exciting example of the future of young Azerbaijani society.
"Certainly the work of young entrepreneurs in Azerbaijan is off to a promising start and offers a fine example for young Muslims to emulate all over the developing world," he said.