The city of Sevan in Armenia has received a grant through the EU-funded ‘Mayors for Economic Growth’ (M4EG) initiative to implement an SME platform for business development and innovation over the next two years.
Sevan, in Gegharkunik marz, joined the EU’s M4EG initiative in 2017. The ‘EU4Sevan: SME platform for Business Development and Innovation’ pilot project will be implemented from 2018-2020 (24 months), and aims to create the preconditions to improve the city’s business environment, boost economic development, and create new jobs.
On 1 March, the EU Ambassador to Armenia, Piotr Świtalski, the Armenian Minister of Territorial Administration and Development, Davit Lokyan, the Governor of Gegharkunik marz, Karen Botoyan, and the Mayor of Sevan, Sargis Muradyan, attended the project launch event.
Ambassador Świtalski congratulated the Mayor for the city’s winning proposal: “Promoting economic development in Armenia is a priority for the European Union, and it is an important factor to start this development in the regions. The economic development of any country is related to the equal development of the regions.”
He added that SMEs were the engine of economic growth, and pointed out that in the EU SMEs provide 70-80% of countries’ GDP. “According to available data, in Armenia, this figure is too low at around 30%. Therefore, any initiative that helps SMEs, especially young entrepreneurs, is a very important factor in marz development. Start-up businessmen and SMEs can rely on EU support,” the ambassador said.
The project will be implemented by the Sevan Municipality and the Gegharkunik Chamber of Commerce and Industry. It has a total budget of €538,000, 90% of which is financed by the European Union.
Innovative business centre
It will establish an innovative business centre in Sevan, which will be a hub and provide physical infrastructure for SMEs of the marz, such as 15 co-working spaces where entrepreneurs can use services, furniture and equipment for their everyday work. A conference hall and working meeting room for businessmen will also be built, a first for Sevan. The project will also help to establish business contacts, and provide consulting and technical assistance.
In parallel with business support, the project will also provide training and assistance to job seekers, especially to young people, women and persons with disabilities. As a result of this training, they will be able to get jobs in beneficiary SMEs as qualified professionals.
Boosting the regional development of SMEs is one of the priorities of the EU4Business initiative in Armenia, which includes two projects working towards this objective:
- Boosting competitiveness of regional SMEs: this project works to boost the competitiveness of regional SMEs and to create employment opportunities in the Armenian regions of Lori, Syunik and Armavir, focusing on the sectors of food-processing and tourism.
- Boosting Technological Development in Shirak Marz: this project supports economic development in the Shirak marz by boosting the skills of young unemployed, and business development of the IT community through training and financial assistance.