USAID believes a thriving, dynamic private sector is the engine of economic growth and a vital component of the journey to self-reliance. In Azerbaijan, USAID’s work focuses on building a better environment for private sector growth and investment and diversifying the economy beyond a reliance on oil and gas, with an emphasis on the agriculture and tourism sectors and increasing the economic participation of women and youth. USAID contributes to the sustainable development of small and medium enterprises in Azerbaijan through developing the future workforce of Azerbaijan and promoting women’s entrepreneurship to ensure their inclusion in the economic sphere. USAID also works with colleagues in the Embassy and Department of Commerce to facilitate increased trade between the U.S. and Azerbaijan.
USAID’s flagship Private Sector Activity aims to increase the competitiveness of the private sector with a special focus on agriculture and tourism. USAID supports farmers to increase the quantity and quality of products produced (such as pomegranates, hazelnuts, and fruits and vegetables) and to implement good agricultural practices to meet the higher standards required by Western buyers and consumers. Over the past 6 years, USAID’s work with selected Azerbaijani agribusinesses has generated over $80 million in agricultural exports, including $25 million to new markets in Europe and the Middle East. Improved agronomic practices taught by USAID have boosted productivity of hazelnuts by almost 100%, berries and orchards by 40%, and vegetables by 35% at beneficiary farms.
USAID’s partnership with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the State Committee on Family, Women and Children’s Affairs, and the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection on the Economic Empowerment for Entrepreneurship and Employment project supports economic advancement among women and youth in rural areas of Azerbaijan. The project supports three Women’s Resource Centers in Masalli, Zaqatala and Khachmaz which provide business development and employment skills training to women. These centers have helped 98 women open their own businesses, increasing incomes for rural women and their families. The project also supports youth employment training centers and the ProGro Youth Employment platform to help prepare young people for their professional careers. Over 600 young people from regions across Azerbaijan have graduated from our youth employment training programs. About 65% of these youth participants have gone on from USAID-funded training to find employment.
Our funding to Entrepreneurship Development Foundation to implement the Micro-Enterprise Support Project has helped open over 60 women-owned businesses and provided entrepreneurship and business plan development workshops to over 400 women across the country. This project also is doing important advocacy work with civil society, the private sector and government partners to support improving the business and employment environment for women and has made important strides towards eliminating historical job prohibitions for women in Azerbaijan.
USAID’s Supporting Business and Professional Associations in Azerbaijan is a unique initiative funded through the Agency’s flagship locally led development program called Local Works. Local Works encourages USAID Missions to partner directly with local leaders, networks, and institutions to better enable communities to respond to complex development challenges with smarter, more resilient, and home-grown solutions. USAID/Azerbaijan will use this mechanism to strengthen business and professional associations in Azerbaijan in support of the government’s economic diversification policy and reform agenda. The Mission’s initiative is aimed at promoting partnership towards shared economic goals among the government, private sector, and civil society.