NAKHCHIVAN, 16 April 2019 – A new flagship project on Empowering Women for Sustainable Development was launched today in the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan with the financial support of the European Union. The one-year project aims to improve access to microfinance services for rural communities in Azerbaijan focusing on women and other vulnerable groups.
This new initiative will support women’s economic empowerment and financial autonomy by offering them a broad range of learning opportunities including money management practices, budget planning, business administration, debt management techniques and other skills needed to start a new business.
The project is implemented by the Azerbaijan Microfinance Association (AMFA) and is part of a broader programme on Promoting the Role of Civil Society in Gender-sensitive Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals funded by the European Union, co-funded and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Speaking at the project’s launching conference in Nakhchivan, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Azerbaijan Ambassador Kestutis Jankauskas said: “Today the European Union with its implementing partner UNDP and AMFA are launching the first EU funded project in Nakhchivan to empower over 300 women entrepreneurs. Teaching financial literacy, developing business skills and promotion of traditional products will unleash the full potential of women to become self-sustainable and contribute to building a modern society.”
The project will help over 300 women from rural communities, including women with disabilities, improve their business proficiency, financial literacy, access to financial resources and organisational skills. Among them, more than 50 best business ideas will further receive seed funding in the amount of USD 500 each to establish business startups in Nakhchivan and Ismayilli.
Supporting Azerbaijan’s commitment to accelerate the achievement of Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the project will contribute to the implementation of SDG 4: Quality Education, SDG 5: Gender Equality and SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth.
UNDP Resident Representative a.i. Mr. Alessandro Fracassetti highlighted the importance of financial autonomy for women’s social and economic empowerment. “By boosting women’s access to new opportunities that will enable them to learn, grow and develop entrepreneurial businesses, countries can escape poverty and improve their economic conditions,” –said Mr. Fracassetti in his opening speech. “It is important to acknowledge that the opportunities offered by women entrepreneurs help grow domestic markets and increase employment prospects.”
First launched in Nakhchivan, the project activities will also be replicated in the Ismayilli region of Azerbaijan. In Nakhchivan, the activities will be facilitated in partnership with the Nakhchivan Division of the Central Bank of Azerbaijan and the Agrarkredit Joint-Stock Credit Organisation.
The project launch conference is part of a two-day official mission by the Heads of the European Union Delegation and the UNDP in Azerbaijan to the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan. During the visit they will meet the Chairman of the Supreme Assembly of Nakchivan Autonomous Republic and participated in a tree-planting ceremony, as well as in meetings with students at the Nakhchivan State University and a traditional “Kete” cake festival at the historic Nakhchivanqala.
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