POVERTY REDUCTION BY DOING BUSINESS WITH THE POOR AND FOR THE POOR
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in cooperation with the Kosovo Chamber of Commerce (KCC) organized an awarding ceremony for "The Best Pro-Poor Business" on Tuesday 13 December, 2011. The award acknowledges the crucial role that the private sector plays in achieving the Millennium Development Goals by fostering inclusive business models. The event was attended by over 200 participants representing the key stakeholders in Kosovo such as the Prime Ministers Cabinet, Deputy Prime Minister and Ministers, deputy Ministers and heads of main institutions, representatives from international community and private sector.
In his opening remarks, Safet Gerxhaliu, President of the Kosovo Chamber of Commerce stressed the importance of this event as the first of this kind in Kosovo recognizing the role of the private sector on doing business with the poor and for the poor. Mr. Gerxhaliu noted that the role of private sector is not only to pay taxes but to contribute to the economic development of Kosovo. Mr. Gerxhaliu concluded that the way forward on achieving MDG and sustainable economic development is by working together.
Slobodan Petrovic, Deputy Prime Minister of Kosovo, and Bedri Hamza, Minister of Finance, reminded that the Government of Kosovo has drafted an economic development strategy and that the Government is committed in improving business enabling environment in Kosovo.
Osnat Lubrani, UN Development Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, acknowledged all the businesses that took the effort and expressed their interest to submit their proposals for the competition. Ms. Lubrani saw the interest as a promising indication that businesses in Kosovo are cognizant of their role to contribute to poverty reduction efforts.
The spirit of the award lies in the pursuit of innovative and profitable inclusive business models that aim at doing business with the poor and for the poor, serving them as clients and customers but also including them as producers, employees and business owners. All of the participants noted that the Best Pro-Poor Business Award is an important step towards seeking to increasingly mainstream pro-poor business practices within the business community and that this initiative should become a regular and traditional and embedded practice.
The first Pro-Poor Business prize was awarded to Abi, a food processing company from Prizren, which employs over 550 permanent workers and 400 seasonal workers. 60% of the employers are women mainly from rural areas. In addition to that, Abi Company uses more than 2,000 individual farmers as suppliers, proving the Pro-Poor Business competition with an excellent example of an inclusive business model. The other acknowledged companies were "Pestova", a potato processing company; "Bucaj", a wholesaler of the food products; "Trepca", a mine; "Visari AM", a textile company; as well as two beverage processing enterprises, "Brendi" and "Bibita".
Investements Key for Kosovo Sustainable Economic Development and Poverty Reduction
United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in cooperation with the Kosovo Chamber of Commerce organized a one-day conference on Wednesday, 7 December 2011 in Pristina to discuss the Investment Opportunities in Kosovo and role of the private sector on advancing Kosovo's social and economic development. This event gathered over 100 participants; local and international business representatives interested to invest in Kosovo, representatives of the main government institutions and international representatives. The presenters were from Investment Promotion Agency of Kosovo, Kosovo Privatization Agency, Public-Private Partnership Unit at Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Economic Development, Business Service providers, ICT Association, USAID NOA and private companies.
The investment opportunities have been presented by public and private sector in several sectors such as: agriculture, construction, processing-production, tourism, service providers, ICT, waste collection, infrastructure and transportation. Kosovo is seen as an opportunity for investment as the market exists on many sectors and the main indicator is the high percentage of import or over 90%.
Valdet Osmani, UNDP GIM Project Manager, outlined the UNDP objective on poverty reduction and achieving Millennium Development Goals. To overcome our challenges it is needed a sustainable economic development which requires investments and business opportunities that will create opportunities for employment.
The conference recommended that the private sector should be more active on identifying investment opportunities and implantable projects. The investment in Kosovo is very challenging but profitable which were demonstrated by several success stories but also by a Turkish foreign investor involved in textile production sector.
Participants also noted that such events must be organized in identifying and promoting investment opportunities to private sector in order to reduce poverty and praised United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to continue on promoting and supporting private sector in those efforts.
Inclusive Business and Markets Key for Supporting the Poor
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in cooperation with the Kosovo Export Association (KEA) and Investment Promotion Agency of Kosovo Professional (IPAK) organized a one-day conference on Wednesday, 26 October 2011 in Prizren to discuss the role of the private sector and opportunities for investment in rural municipalities for advancing Kosovo's social and economic development. This event, "Development opportunities of production sectors with export potentials in rural Municipalities" gathered main government representatives in agriculture and rural development, investment promotion, farmers, business and international representatives.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Hasani, President of the Kosovo Export Association stressed the importance of strengthening the private sector and farmers on doing business with poor in rural areas. The investments in rural areas are very challenging but profitable demonstrated by two large investors present at this event who are in textile production and wild fruit collection. Ms. Maria Zuniga Barrientos, UNDP Environment Programme Advisor / Project Manager for Dragash/Dragas Project, presented the Dragash Project and successes. She stated that rural economic development is one of the key elements to develop rural areas and involve the poor. The opportunities in sheep sector, presented by Growing Inclusive Project, got the audience attention especially by private sector and Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development and GIZ representative. Also one of the main topics that was highly accepted by audience were the opportunities in Tourism Sector in Dragash/Dragas presented by the Dragash Project team. Mr. Hasani, stated: "UNDP's great presentations got our attention that there are several opportunities in rural areas that we should focus on", adding that it is very important that growth opportunities are also translated into windows of opportunity for the poor in Kosovo.
The representatives from USAID KPEP presented their project and success achievements, stating that their main achievement was changing the mind on business approach and development which brought significant success to private sector. They supported several projects in rural areas and will continue to do so.
The GIZ representative informed the participants regarding the successful projects implemented in the past along with ongoing opportunities. They are very involved in developing rural areas and supporting farmers in agriculture sector.
Recommendations from the conference call on Kosovo Government and international organizations to increase their efforts in ensuring that local businesses have a market, import substitution, export barriers removed, support for farmers and producers on achieving quality products and being certified, continuous trainings, having regular events such as this, harmonizing the legislation with that of the European Union, and adoption of inclusive business approach that creates development opportunities.
Participants also noted UNDP's and other donors need for further assistance in promoting investment opportunities to private sector to do business with the poor and praised United Nations Development Plan (UNDP) Growing Inclusive Markets initiative to support private sector and government in those efforts.