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Project Portfolio

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PROJECT PORTFOLIO:

Current project: USAID Grantee Business Without Borders

Project timeline: 2011 – 2013

Grant: $1.3 million

Project implementing partners: Municipality of Bitola, University “St. Kliment Ohridski”- Bitola and Regional Chamber of Commerce

Other project alliances: Ministry of Economy of Macedonia, the Agency for Promotion of SME of Macedonia (APPRM), and the newly-formed government agency Center for Development of the Pelagonia Region.

Project goal: The goal of the project is to accelerate economic growth in southwestern Macedonia by facilitating the startup of new enterprises; the growth and competitiveness of existing micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs); job creation and employment opportunities for the young, vulnerable and unemployed; and improving the regional framework of MSME development through the activities of the Business Startup Center Bitola (BSC-Bitola), its business incubator, and local & regional partners in public, private, civil-society and academic sectors. The project consists of three components corresponding to the three objectives:

Component 1: Business Startup & Support: Component 1 provides support to entrepreneurs, existing MSMEs and unemployed citizens through a portfolio of assistance aimed at starting and registering innovative new microenterprises, supporting the growth of existing MSMEs, and bridging the gap between job-seekers and employers. MSME and human resource development activities include:

  1. business plan writing course;
  2. business plan competition;
  3. MSME training portfolio;
  4. human resource development services;
  5. credit facility loan guarantee fund;
  6. MSME consulting services; and
  7. Technology-Transfer Toolbox, a set of development tools specifically targeting technology development and transfer.

Component 2: Incubator Development & Sustainability: Component 2 aims to improve the financial and operational sustainability of BSC-Bitola so as to reduce or eliminate the necessity for future international donor support by developing new revenue streams, expanding space and operations, implementing cost-share practices, reducing expenses, and increasing shareholder and partner inputs.

Component 3: Regional Cooperation in Economic Development: Component 3 will enhance interaction between actors in four sectors (public, private, civil-society and academic) at municipal, regional and national levels through cooperation and collaboration on economic development initiatives. BSC-Bitola will examine existing economic development efforts and programs, enhance existing forums through our active participation, and assess various entry points for support to increase and improve collaboration between MSME development actors.

Previous project: Dutch NGO SPARK South East European Business Start-up Network – From Idea to Business

Project timeline: 2007 – 2010

Grant: 1.5 million EURO

Project implementing partners: Municipality of Bitola, University “St. Kliment Ohridski”- Bitola and Regional Chamber of Commerce, Faculty of Technical Sciences, Regional Enterprise Support Agency Bitola, Agency for Promotion of Entrepreneurship of the Republic of Macedonia

The project South East European Business Start-up Network – From Idea to Business achieved positive direct impact on its implementation through the 3 main strategies: direct poverty alleviation, capacity  building and policy making. Each strategy through the 15 different results for stimulating entrepreneurship and enterprise development provided support to the various beneficiaries’ that contributed to the economic revitalization of the SME sector in the Republic of Macedonia.

Direct Poverty Alleviation was addresed by supporting local institutional initiatives that increased employment opportunities and job-creation, primarily through the establishment of new innovative SMEs and the facilitation of growth of the exisiting SMEs which contributed to the employability of the beneficiaries on the labor market. The actual establishment of the Business Start-up Centre in Bitola (result 1), that became a part of the BSC network (result 2), resulted in the development and implementation of entrepreneurial course modules/business skills trainings (result 3) supported by the partner coordination meetings (result 4). The Business Plan Competition and Start-up support (result 6) to young entrepreneurs such as training, consultancy, working space and access to micro-credit through the credit facility (result 5) lead to the establishment of new and innovative SMEs housed in the Business Incubator (result 7). Besides soft skill support, existing SMEs were introduced to the ISO standards in SEE SME Sector (result 8) which lead to an increased awareness in understanding the importance and benefit of obtaining such standards which facilitated them to develop more swiftly and moreover contributed to the employability of the beneficiaries on the labor market.

Capacity Building: was addressed by needs based tailor-made programs to develop the capacity of the local partner institutions: the Municipality of Bitola, the University "St. Kliment Ohridski" – Bitola, the Faculty of Technical Sciences – Bitola, the Regional Chamber of Commerce – Bitola, the Regional Enterprise Support Centre – Bitola, and the Agency for the Development of SMEs of the Republic of Macedonia towards a more efficient and effective functioning of the relevant institution. Specifically a tailor-made IT management solution was created for the Municaplity of Bitola (result 1) and various demand driven trainings (result 2) were organized for the partners.

Policy making: was addressed by initiating and supporting a more effective participation by local economic and educational institutions in the policy making process directed specifically at creating and enabling environment for economic development. This was achieved through the annual local/regional “Status Reports on Local SME sector”(result 1&2), policy making initiatives such as conferences, meetings, events in the Netherlands (result 3), the annual regional conference on SME and private sector development and SME fair (result 4) and official meetings with relevant EU institutions locally and regionally (result 5).

The target group for each strategy through its 15 results evolved from the initial youth up to the age of 35, as university students and recent graduates (up to 3 years after graduation), to a more broadened scope: the inclusion of women and vulnerable groups (especially at-risk-youth, long-term unemployed, older displaced workers and workers with disabilities) and the grey economy.

 

 

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