EBRD completes Women-in-Business Programme
21 October, 2010
EBRD completes Women-in-Business Programme

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) completed the two-year women-oriented business program in Georgia and Armenia and awarded the best program beneficiaries on October 13, 2010.


Over 800 women have participated in the EBRD-led Business Advisory Service (BAS) Women in Business Programme in Armenia and Georgia. The two-year programme to support female entrepreneurs in Armenia and Georgia is part of the EBRD’s strong commitment to helping women in its countries of operations to realise their potential and contribute

to further economic development in emerging markets.
The Programme’s beneficiaries in Armenia and Georgia received small grants and technical assistance worth a total of EUR 810 thousand to develop their Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME), those businesses which play a key role in underpinning sustainable economic growth.
In Georgia and Armenia, the BAS Women in Business Programme has been supported by donor funding from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) the EBRD Early Transition Country Fund (ETC) and Taipei China.

 


Over its implementation, the programme has initiated 36 focus groups and workshops to identify the obstacles encountered by women entrepreneurs in the region and to provide wide-ranging business training to address their needs. EBRD’s experts helped women-entrepreneurs in both countries develop their managerial skills in how to start up and run small and medium-sized enterprises.
Moreover, the programme has undertaken 86 projects where it advised women on the appropriate type of support, including the selection of qualified consultants. It also offered small grants up to EUR10 thousand  designed for projects’ implementation, depending on the location and maturity of the enterprise. The programme helped create new jobs, either directly through business start-ups or indirectly through the growth in services and activities, especially in the countries’ remote regions.
The majority of projects were aimed at developing and introducing computerised financial/ management information systems (41%), followed by projects aimed at offering advice regarding market analysis and planning (37%). About 75% of projects were in the services sector and almost half have been carried out in rural areas. Overall, 93% of assisted enterprises have less than 50 employees.
Presently, 46 projects have been internally evaluated one year after the project’s completion. As a result, 91% of the projects have received “successful” or even higher ratings in helping to improve business performance and enhance competitiveness. On average the companies have increased their turnover by 56%, improved their productivity by 29% and increased employment by 23%.
“Gender equality and women’s empowerment are critical to economic development. By honouring these women today we are showing what they are doing to make real contributions to developing their own countries. Their activities and successes are about making a tangible difference in people’s lives,” Charlotte Ruhe, the Director of the EBRD Turnaround Management and Business Advisory Service Programme, said during the celebration event.  “It is our hope that through showcasing these real and positive actions, more women will be motivated to try to realise their ideas, and more people will be motivated to support their efforts.”


The meeting participants accentuated that gender equality issues were present in all spheres of life, as women and men have been involved in all spheres of society. Ensuring equal opportunities of both genders facilitates economic growth and civil society and the economy.
All this is especially true in transition countries facing significant challenges in enabling women to act as economic, social and political agents in the process of change that would inspire civil society at large and ultimately enable the achievement of the region’s full economic potential in a well-balanced and sustainable manner – the programme initiators deduced.
Some of the most successful women entrepreneurs received prizes and awards ‘for excellence’ in doing business.

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