Creation of Azerbaijan's Houses of SMEs to expand range of services to enterprises UPDATE6

Business Materials 1 May 2019 18:35 (UTC +04:00)

Details added (first version posted on 13:36)

Baku, Azerbaijan, May 1


Creation of Houses of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) would expand the range of services rendered to the business entities in Azerbaijan, said Orkhan Mammadov, Chairman of the Board of the Agency for the Development of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises.

Mammadov made the remarks in Baku during the presentation of the SMEs House project, Trend reports on May 1.

"Earlier, the first meeting of the Coordination Group consisting of plenipotentiaries of the state agencies was arranged. The Group operates under the Agency for the Development of SMEs,” he added.

“At the meeting, effective discussions were held,” Mammadov said. “It was recommended to improve the coordination of the policy of developing SMEs and address issues related to the creation of SMEs Houses. I think that joint cooperation within this format will make a significant contribution to the implementation of the course of reforms announced by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev."

“The development of the SMEs sector has become a special sphere of the ​​state policy for the development of modern economy, to which particular importance is attached,” he said.

"The development strategy being implemented under the leadership of the president has always focused on the development of SMEs sector in the country, which demonstrates the trend of sustainable development,” Mammadov said. "Systemic measures in this direction have been implemented within the state programs adopted over the past years.”

“Significant results are achieved as a result of important measures such as the creation of a legal framework for entrepreneurship development and the use of modern organizational models supporting this work,” he said. “Moreover, the private sector has taken an important position in the development of the non-oil sector, employment and foreign trade.”

“The role of entrepreneurs has grown in the society,” Mammadov added. “Entrepreneurs have become an active force supporting the course of economic reforms in Azerbaijan."

Mammadov stressed that there is a big potential in the country’s economy in the sphere of growth of the sector of small and medium businesses.

"Sustainable development priorities have put forward new requirements for this sector and this must be taken into account,” he said. “The creation of the Agency for the Development of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and the documents signed by the president to ensure its activity testifies to the attention paid to this sector and cover the issues that will lead to the fundamental changes in the development of the SME sector.”

“The mission of the agency is to improve the efficiency of the SME regulation system and ensure sustainable development of SME sector on the basis of the protection of the interests of business entities,” Mammadov added.

“The main task of the agency is to turn the structure into a carrier of such an important mission as a friend of an entrepreneur,” he said. “Despite the short time from the date of its establishment, the agency carried out important measures aimed at the realization of this mission and fulfillment of the important tasks assigned by the president, and started implementation of a number of strategic projects.”

Mammadov added that the new bill “On the Development of Small and Medium-Sized Businesses” designed to strengthen the legislative framework for the development of small and medium-sized businesses is an important initiative in terms of creating the legal foundations of this sector at the first stage.

"The project was discussed at a joint meeting of the parliamentary committees on legal policy and state-building, economic policy, industry and entrepreneurship with the participation of representatives of international organizations and public associations,” he said.

“The bill outlines the main elements of the strategic course determined by the Azerbaijani president for the development of entrepreneurship,” Mammadov added.

“In particular, the project envisages new mechanisms such as the creation of a unified register of micro, small and medium businesses entities, rendering of services on behalf of the state through the unified e-information systems and the creation of favorable conditions for the participation of micro, small and medium businesses entities in public procurement, the formation of infrastructure supporting entrepreneurs, and rendering public services for business entities in a single area,” he added.

“At the same time, more than 10 legal acts encouraging the activity of SMEs in the country by the agency and envisaging various state support mechanisms that are currently being coordinated with the state agencies have been prepared,” he added.

Mammadov highlighted the amendments made to the Tax Code to create new organizational models to support and stimulate the activity of SMEs. "The amendments made to create clusters of SMEs, develop start-ups and stimulate this work will have a great positive impact on the development of SMEs and the realization of its innovative potential," he said.

Mammadov added that the work of the agency has been organized upon the requirements by using new management models.

“In this context, the process of creating the network “Friend of SMEs”, which serves the implementation of the strategic course of the country’s president entitled “The state is the best partner for the entrepreneur”, was launched,” he added.

"The activity of the agency in the districts is aimed at close cooperation with entrepreneurs on the basis of their requirements through the "Friend of SMEs" network,” Mammadov said. “The first structure “Friend of SMEs” began to operate during the opening ceremony of the industrial zone in Masalli district in September 2018 with the participation of the president.”

“During a short period, this work was organized in 12 administrative-territorial units of the country, namely, Khachmaz, Siyazan-Shabran, Guba, Gusar, Yevlakh, Fizuli, Gabala, Absheron, Ganja, Sumgayit and Baku,” Mammadov added.

“The activity of ‘Friends of SMEs’ is aimed at creating new SMEs, realizing the potential for the development of the regions through the development of existing facilities,” he said. “Another important sphere of "Friends of SMEs" is to support SMEs.”

“Being in contact with entrepreneurs, ‘Friends of SMEs’, through surveys, will identify needs of their development,” Mammadov said. “The 'Friends of SMEs' network is planned to be created in all cities and districts of the country."

He said that high quality public services play an important role in the activity of entrepreneurs. "Along with social goals, effective public services influence the creation of a favorable investment sphere, business development and the promotion of broad participation of citizens in Azerbaijan’s economic life," Mammadov added.

He stressed that on the one hand, Houses of SMEs will promptly and transparently provide entrepreneurs with all the necessary permits based on the “single window” principle, and on the other hand, in these Houses entrepreneurs will be supported and get consultations in various spheres.

“At the next stage, these services will be carried out through an electronic platform 'e-House of SMEs' and implemented via the non-stop-shop principle,” he added.

Mammadov expressed confidence that the "Houses of SMEs" will be presented to the world as Azerbaijan’s new innovative brand.