MINSK, 9 December (BelTA) – Economy is formed at the local level, this is why it is so important for every region to work out its own development strategy that leverages growth points and priority areas. Belarusian Deputy Economy Minister Sergei Mityansky made the statement during the second regional entrepreneurship forum “Contribution of regional entrepreneurship to reaching the Sustainable Development Goals” on 9 December, BelTA has learned. The forum was held in the videoconference format.
The forum has been organized in association with the Belarusian Economy Ministry and the Mogilev Oblast Executive Committee within the framework of the UNDP project Support to Economic Development at the Local Level in the Republic of Belarus. The project is being implemented with financial assistance of the European Union. The first forum took place in Brest Oblast.
Sergei Mityansky said: “The development of the regions, search for ways to explore their full potential have been of current interest for years. All of us understand that the economy is formed at the local level. An important task for the regions today is to preserve and augment the achieved level of economic development.”
The official noted that key areas of the economy for the country (and respectively for the regions) include export stimulation, diversification of investment activity, the introduction of innovations and green economy principles. Priorities have been determined taking into account the launch of a new investment cycle soon: what projects should be preferred (for instance, those that rely on locally available raw materials as much as possible, those that provide for creating new jobs in the region, preferably high-tech ones).
Sergei Mityansky drew attention to the experience of cluster development of the territories, which has earned a reputation in recent years as an effective tool for stimulating business activity and developing local communities.
Luca Carapelli, coordinator of cooperation programs of the European Union Delegation to Belarus, noted that the total budget of the project is $9.5 million. The money is spent on supporting economic initiatives, bolstering the competitive ability, and introducing innovations for development at the local level. At present the project supports six initiatives worth $3.7 million in Belarus. Those are primarily cluster initiatives, business incubators, and social enterprises. Over 50 small regional initiatives will also get equipment and services. As much as $1 million has been appropriated for these purchases.
Luca Carapelli said: “I've visited several facilities and personally made sure that this project is a success because the country can rely on its regions, on very qualified personnel, and workforce. Yes, there are complications everywhere but there are opportunities, strong points, too. It is simply necessary to support them.” He thanked municipal government agencies that are willing to cooperate and create favorable conditions for implementing the program.
Alexandra Solovieva, Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Belarus, said that the growth of sustainable entrepreneurship and public private partnership helps strong regions by creating jobs, stimulating innovations, making goods and services affordable. In developing countries the share of the private sector in the GDP is close to 60% on the average. The private sector creates 90% of the jobs and 80% of the capital flow. The share of small and medium businesses in Belarus' GDP is 26%. This sector gives jobs to one third of the working-age population, accounts for 45% of the foreign trade, and 39% of fixed-capital investments. “These figures might grow higher if private sector gets support, particularly small and medium businesses,” Alexandra Solovieva noted. It is important to enable conditions for residents of every district to be able to generate and realize entrepreneurship ideas. “Close attention should be paid to the development of such innovative entrepreneurship forms as clusters,” she added.
The UNDP project Support to Economic Development at the Local Level in the Republic of Belarus helps 17 cluster initiatives, which will result in the establishment of genuine clusters in the sphere of production and services in the future.
Socially responsible business plays a special role in the regions, this is why a lot of attention is also paid to incentivizing such a form of entrepreneurship. The role of knowledge, innovations, new technologies, and science-intensive manufacturing is rising. Even the COVID-19 pandemic gave a certain boost to it by becoming an engine of digital transformation. “A recently established UNDP lab for accelerating sustainable development helps find, test, and pilot innovative solutions, including those that employ digital technologies. Cooperation with a number of ministries and the State Science and Technology Committee is in progress,” Alexandra Solovieva added.
At last, the state plays the key role in creating a stable, favorable investment climate for attracting domestic and foreign investments. “Taking into account ecological and social criteria investments will produce double and triple profits in realizing sustainable growth tasks,” Alexandra Solovieva stressed.
Taking part in the second forum were representatives of the private sector, entrepreneurship promotion councils, central and municipal government agencies, and international organizations. Participants of the forum discussed the most effective ways and mechanisms of development of the business activity that corresponds to SDG tasks. They also discussed the introduction of innovative approaches and tools into entrepreneurship for the sake of its development at the local level and the national one.