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29. March 2018.

Belgrade - The four-year project of the Development Agency of Serbia and the USAID for a stronger private sector contributed to the development of small and medium-sized enterprises in South and Southwest Serbia.    

Thus, 487 permanent jobs were created in 12 municipalities, as well as 159 temporary jobs and 1,300 seasonal ones. 

In the towns of Vranje, Leskovac and Novi Pazar, and in the municipalities of Presevo, Bujanovac, Medvedja, Raska, Sjenica, Tutin, Priboj, Prijepolje and Nova Varos, the trainings for beginners in business were attended by over 380 beneficiaries from the category of women and young people, of which 71 started their own businesses, while 761,000 dollars of grants were earmarked for the purchase of the necessary equipment, it was said yesterday at the presentation of the results achieved by the RAS and USAID.

There were more than 380 trainings for different categories of beneficiaries, over 1,300 hours of consulting services, and more than 13,000 hours of mentoring, while three B2B meetings were held in Leskovac in 2016, as well as in Novi Pazar and on Mt. Zlatar in 2017, which were  attended by over 200 training beneficiaries.

Ms. Azza El-Abd, the Head of the USAID Mission to Serbia, said that, through cooperation between the RAS and USAID on the project, services for 184 small and medium-sized enterprises and eight business associations and clusters had been provided, which were in the form  of entrepreneurial training, individual training and mentoring, business contacts with other companies, the award of grants for the purchase of the equipment, as well as the opportunities to participate in international trade fairs.

She also said that the total value of the project amounted to four million dollars, and that its goal was to strengthen the private sector firms in the economically depressed areas. 

The partnership of the RAS and USAID on the project resulted in a significant improvement in economy in underdeveloped regions of Serbia, to the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises, and their crosslinking, said Rados Gazdic, the Acting Director of the RAS, and pointed out that one of the objectives of the agency was a balanced development of Serbia.

"Through this project, we made it possible for the companies in the field of agro-industry, fashion, textile, clothing and footwear, as well as light industry, to increase their export sales, and most importantly to create new jobs," Mr. Gazdic said.  . 

Dragan Grgurevic, the State Secretary at the Ministry of Economy, said that the Ministry supported all forms of partnerships and projects aimed at the promotion of entrepreneurship in Serbia, and that the Ministry of Economy had had a set strategy for providing strong support to the development of entrepreneurial spirit for years.

"This is especially important now, at a time when the privatization process is nearing completion and when we more and more turn to development. We understand that the motor of future development, future employment and GDP growth, is in the sector of small and medium-sized enterprises, " Mr. Grgurević said.  

He said that more than 360,000 small and medium-sized enterprises that employed around 900,000 people operated in Serbia then, and that the Ministry announced for that year the first support programs within which 750 million dinars of grants would be provided to small and medium-sized enterprises.  

"I expect that about 560 million dinars of grants will be soon avaliable to the economy,  by which the Ministry of Economy will co-finance the procurement of the new equipment," Mr. Grgurevic said

Source: Tanjug” news agency and Coordination Body