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JOBS Project
The JOBS Project (Job Opportunities Through Business Support) is conducted by the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Its main objective is to surmount the high and increasing level of structural unemployment in Bulgaria and to increase the level of employment throughout the country by developing business centers, registered as non-governmental organisations (NGOs), which will provide technical and financial assistance to the emerging private sector. The Project aims at demonstrating a replicable model for employment generation through stimulation and creation of micro and small enterprises. It will experiment with innovative business ideas and will support teh formation of economic societies and associations on a local level. The initiative is continuation of a successful pilot project for business stimulation and support conducted by UNDP.
PROJECT STRATEGY

The project strategy is to implement an integrated approach to job creation and economic development in rural areas, using tools that have proven to be successful and effective in the Bulgarian context. The project will create linkages between the public sector, the private sector and the NGO sector. From the experiences of the UNDP in this field for the past 5 years, it is fundamental to work on a local level in order to jump start communities. The tool that has been used to date is local business centers, structured as NGOs. The business centers' founders include representatives from the whole community (the local labor office, banks, the municipality, the private sector, other NGOs, etc.). Business centers are an essential component to a proper functioning business environment and they help to create jobs.

PROJECT BENEFICIARIES

The project's target beneficiaries are listed in order of importance:

  1. Unemployed people are the most important target audience. They will be assisted by the jobs made available through the businesses established with the BCs' and business incubators' assistance.
  2. Micro and small enterprises that desire to grow and create additional employment will be given technical assistance and access to financing.
  3. Farmers who are currently working on a subsistence basis and are interested in becoming micro farming entrepreneurs.
  4. Minorities will be given more opportunities for jobs and self-sustainable income generation.
  5. The local authorities and the key stakeholders in the 20 selected project sites will receive technical assistance in local economic development methods in order for them to take full advantage of the new tools which are being introduced to their communities.
CORE-ACTIVITIES OF BUSINESS CENTERS
  • Promotion of an entrepreneurial culture where potential business men and women become aware of the responsibilities, risks and possibilities of a self-owned business;
  • Delivery of locally-based comprehensive support to potential or actual micro, small and middle sized entrepreneurs;
  • Introduction of new management techniques and new technologies;
  • Delivery of a wide range of information services;
  • Consulting services provided by international and local consultants to develop projects, business opportunities and business to business links locally, regionally, and internationally;
  • Mobilisation of opportunities and resources to facilitate access to credit and incentives for employment generation and training;
  • Stimulation and support of a "dialogue" at the local and national level, between the public and private sector aimed at promoting private entrepreneurship and creating a relationship built on confidence between the public institutions and the private sector.
CORE-ACTIVITIES OF BUSINESS INCUBATORS
  • Providing premises to the tenants at below market rates, organized in modules that are easily transformed depending on the needs of the tenants;
  • Access to technical services - telephone answering, word processing, secretarial support, coping, bookbinding, use of common facilities such as the conference room, computers, internet, etc.;
  • Opportunity for both tenants and external clients to lease necessary equipment;
  • Consulting and training - these services are provided on both an in-house basis and through networking arrangements with outside consultants;
  • Internal and external networking advice - the Business Incubator provides a mutually stimulating environment for the entrepreneurs to develop fruitful contacts among themselves. Formal as well as informal networking between the tenants is promoted and managed by the management team;
  • After-graduation services - the Incubator will continue to keep in touch with all the businesses after their "graduation" for the purpose of continuing with providing counselling services and using them as a means of external providers of expertise and business contacts.
FINANCIAL LEASING - CLAUSES

The financial mechanism implemented in each Business Center represents the proposing of financial leasing for production equipment:

  • Maximum of BGL 25,000
  • Grace period - 6 months
  • Repayment period up to 36 months
  • Down payment: 20 percent of purchase price
  • Equal monthly installments

The UNDP supported projects have had a particular emphasis on self-sustainability of the business centers after the project financing finishes. This is very important to the long-term success of the centers. The centers learn to think in an entrepreneurial manner and to look for income generation tools. In this manner, the business centers serve a long-term benefit to the communities by growing and developing other services, which are needed locally.

 

Copyright 2004 Nikolay Alexandrov