The 3rd largest SMB house in Azerbaijan - "Baku SMB house" was launched. Attendance of the President Ilham Aliyev in the opening ceremony of next SMB house located in Narimanov district draws attention to the importance of the event.
The contributions made by small and medium business to the development of the economy of Azerbaijan has gained a momentum and importance. Thus, hundreds of small and medium entrepreneurs are working in different cities and regions of the republic, and their role in the development of different sectors of the economy is enhancing.
The absolute majority of business in Azerbaijan - 99.6 percent - is micro, small and medium enterprises. According to the results of 2021, the share of SMBs in the added value created in the non-oil and gas sector amounted to 27.5 percent. The share of SMBs in non-oil exports increased from 31.8 percent in 2020 to 59.8 percent in 2021. The turnover of businesses in this category amounted to 20 billion dollars in 2021 and constituted more than 32 percent of the total turnover of the country's business and 56.5 percent of the non-oil GDP.
Therefore, the government supports entrepreneurial activity and provides comprehensive support to the entrepreneurs. Thus, increasing the role of entrepreneurship, especially small and medium business in ensuring the sustainable economic development of Azerbaijan is one of the priorities of the socio-economic policy implemented under the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev. As a continuation of the systematic measures implemented in the field of private sector development, the Small and Medium Business Development Agency (KOBİA) was established under the Ministry of Economy by the decree of the head of state dated December 28, 2017.
KOBİA provides support and services to entrepreneurs informational support along with information, consultancy, training, protection of interests, improvement of access to markets and financial resources, coordination with public and private agencies and other areas. These support and services are implemented through KOBİA's wide infrastructure network covering different cities and regions of the country - SMB friends, SMB development centers and SMB houses. SMB development centers offer services such as information, advice, training and development of business plan free of charge to increase the business knowledge of SMBs. In the regions of the country, protection of the interests of SMBs, necessary support and access to services are implemented through the network "SMB friend" operating in 38 cities and districts.
A number of decrees, orders and other documents on the small and medium businesses have been signed so far. As it is known, another document that is to provide great support to entrepreneurial activity - a new draft law "On the development of micro, small and medium enterprises" has been developed. The draft law has already passed two readings in the Milli Majlis. This is a very important step for the further expansion and quality improvement of entrepreneurial activity. The document aims to bring about has brought about requisite enabling environment for the development of micro, small and medium enterprises, enhancing the competitiveness of subjects, stimulating investment and innovation activity. Increasing the efficiency of the services and state support provided to them, as well as the accessibility of the support infrastructure for all micro, small and medium business entities are highlighted.
The draft law consists of 5 chapters and 15 articles and intends to regulate relations in the field of development of micro, small and medium entrepreneurship, defines the forms and methods of promoting state support to business entities. The document contains articles on the legislation, goals, principles and main directions of state policy in the development of micro, small and medium entrepreneurship, conditions, forms, procedure and assessment of support to business entities. Articles on the state financial support, consulting and information support, support of subjects for innovation, product production and service field, and other issues are also included here.
It was emphasized that the document, which was developed taking into account the advanced international practices, will serve to raise the development of the SMB sector and state support measures to a new level of quality. President of KOBİA and the International Network for Small and Medium Enterprises (INSME) Sergio Arzeni stated: "In addition to the policy of entrepreneurship and the development of SMBs, the policy of boosting competitiveness and the knowledge and skills of those working in SMBs is of prior significance. We wish to strengthen the policy on SMBs in Azerbaijan. Development in the field of economic diversification is important."
SMB houses also serve these important purposes. They are a single space where government and business services are provided to entrepreneurs in a centralized manner. Services are rendered based on the principles of promptness, transparency, politeness and convenience here. The main advantages of SMB houses are bringing together business services in one place, saving time and costs, and resulting in promptness.
Currently operating Khachmaz and Yevlax SMB houses have rendered significant support to entrepreneurs in their activities. More than 170,000 services were rendered, more than 165,000 of them were state-business services, and nearly 9,000 were business-to-business services. The rate of satisfaction of entrepreneurs with the services of SMB houses is 98 percent.
The new "Baku SMB house" is located on an area of 11,262 square meters. Entrepreneurs will be served on the first two floors of the three-story building. The last floor is designed for the staff. "Baku SMB house" has the capacity to provide services to 5,000 entrepreneurs per day. Meeting, training, start-up, mediation rooms and conference hall will be at the service of entrepreneurs in the building.
More than 150 services will be offered to entrepreneurs by 29 state institutions, and more than 100 by 20 private institutions.
Entrepreneurs can apply to "Baku SMB house" on business registration, obtaining licenses and permits, development of a business plan, access to concessional financial resources, tax, customs, connection to public utilities, banking, insurance and other issues. Furthermore, a wide range of services on customs and import-export operations will be rendered in the International Trade, Development and Logistics Zone created in "Baku SMB house".
The development of the business environment in the country will be further accelerated with these successive measures - expanding the scope of small and medium enterprises, creating a new more efficient and targeted support mechanism.
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