Azerbaijan Microfinance Association talks co-op with USAID

Finance Materials 18 August 2023 09:40 (UTC +04:00)
Kamran Gasimov
Kamran Gasimov
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BAKU, Azerbaijan, August 18. The Azerbaijan Microfinance Association (AMFA) is implementing a project to support the development of business and professional associations as the lead executor of the 'Associations of the Future' project consortium, Executive Director of AMFA Jhale Hajiyeva told Trend.

Hajiyeva noted that other partners of the consortium are the Union of Disabled People's Organizations (UDPO) and 'Finance and Social Innovation Consulting' company.

"The project is funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The project aims to strengthen the role of business and professional associations in the country's economic development in Azerbaijan by improving the skills of associations that will be involved in the project to expand inclusive economic opportunities and contribute to economic welfare and business, hence professional associations play a very important role in any society," she stressed.

"By supporting and representing various sectors, associations have a great deal of potential to drive economic growth and expand economic opportunities. Business associations are also seen as a useful platform for businesses to seek market entry, create and share a new knowledge base, and perform other core functions," the executive director said.

In addition, as to Hajiyeva, associations provide a suitable platform for member organizations to create and implement strategies, norms and standards that lead not only to increase market share and profits, but also to increase the social impact of their activities.

"Within the framework of the project, it is planned to provide direct assistance to 15 business and professional associations within three years," she added.

The executive director also noted that a preliminary study of business and professional associations in Azerbaijan was carried out.

"The main purpose of this study was to assess the qualitative and quantitative aspects of the situation in the development of business and professional associations in Azerbaijan. This study was the first in the country and covered the entire sector, including registered business and professional associations with a membership base," Hajiyeva said. The results of this study will be used to develop a training program for capacity building. According to the results of the research, most associations face financial difficulties when implementing the measures provided for by the charter."

Moreover, as she stressed, most of the associations face difficulties such as limited capacity, lack of qualified fundraisers to attract new financial resources; 41 percent of associations do not have enough qualified personnel to effectively fulfill the tasks provided for by the charter.

According to Hajiyeva, the most demanded knowledge and the skills of both management and staff are project development and execution, as well as organizational/planning skills.

"ICT skills and communication in foreign language(s) are also important skills. Only 28 percent of associations have internal policies and regulations regarding the employment of disabled people and the creation of accessible jobs for them. 59 percent of organizations don't have such a policy or regulations. Very few associations have offices and buildings for people with disabilities," she concluded.

AMFA was officially established in November 2004 by being registered as a public association for the purpose of advancing the interests of the microfinance industry in support of sustainable and equitable economic growth in Azerbaijan.

The role of AMFA is to support its members in understanding this environment and bringing structure to the overall microfinance industry. As of today, it has 27 members including 18 non-bank credit organizations, seven banks, one credit union, and one international foundation.