WB suggests formation of business enterprises in universities

Business Materials 8 August 2017 17:40 (UTC +04:00)

Baku, Azerbaijan, Aug. 8

By Azad Hasanli – Trend:

World Bank (WB) offers Azerbaijan to start entrepreneurial activities in universities, head of the bank’s Baku office Naveed Hassan Naqvi said in the exclusive interview with Trend, Aug. 8.

“There are few examples locally, but there are a lot of examples internationally of commercializing research, of turning ideas into entrepreneurial companies,” he said. “So we will be looking at higher education and business incubators. How do you marry higher education with a concept of a business incubator? Perhaps you need a university, perhaps a national platform.”

“I know some of the work has already been done,” he added. “We talked with [Azerbaijani] minister of education [Mikayil Jabbarov]. He was very supportive of this idea. So we will be looking to have a dialogue on that and see where we can bring in our support.”

Naqvi added that the bank isn’t going to start implementing a separate project, but will cooperate with the Azerbaijani government within technical assistance.

“Another direction in which WB is willing to work this year is related to the assistance it can provide to the Azerbaijani Government in the development of country’s economy, such as attracting international experts, discussing different elements of the policy that can speed up economic recovery and restart growth, and so on,” he said.

“We hope that we will also be taking joint steps with the government to analyze the local job market,” he noted. “We basically will be looking at different sectors, analyzing what kind of jobs are available, what kind of jobs can be available going forward, if you choose to develop one or another sector.”

Basically, Azerbaijan has two resources - oil and country’s people, he said, adding that everything else, infrastructure and other things are supportive of these two resources.

Oil production has been declining in Azerbaijan since 2010, he noted.

“In addition to the declining oil production, there is descend in oil price,” he added. “This is a double hit. So if you see that hydrocarbons are no longer able to fuel sustained growth, you start looking at other resources. My personal and bank’s view of Azerbaijan is that the only sustainable part for growth comprises of greater investment in the people of Azerbaijan, in improving healthcare and education system and making sure that this investment in the people makes them ready to become entrepreneurs, start their business, create new jobs.”

“But one thing that Azerbaijan needs to focus on is improving the quality of services that it provides to its people, the quality of health services and education,” Naqvi noted. “I say quality, because in terms of quantity you have more hospitals than in the [whole] region. The number of hospital beds is comparable to OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) standards.”

However, he added that the level of their usage is very low.

“I think there is a lot of work that needs to be done,” he said.

“We’re helping the government to run a couple of pilot projects in Yevlakh and Mingachevir districts on medical insurance,” he noted. “It shows some promising initial results. In order to roll this system out to the rest of the country, you have to overhaul the way the health system is structured.”

Azerbaijan has joined the WB group in 1992.