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Workshop for heads of business associations

A workshop for heads of Minsk, Brest, Vitebsk, Grodno, Gomel and Mogilev business associations on the initiative and with participation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Southern Sweden and Federation of Swedish Private Enterprises was held on March, 13-14. The participants exchanged the working experience of regional business associations on the following trends - "Informing about the activity of business associations”, “Increasing of quality of legal protection and law-making activity of business associations” and “Increasing of quality of the services rendered”. During the workshop, perspectives of business network development, establishment of business relations between entrepreneurs of Sweden and Belarus were discussed.


       On October, 1 2002 the project “Development of SME associations in Belarus” by International Finance Corporation, Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Southern Sweden and Federation of Swedish Private Enterprises started in Belarus. The project was aimed at complex strengthening of entrepreneurial associations in Belarus, namely – development of their membership, widening of range and improvement of quality of the services rendered by these organizations. The interlocutor of the “MK” newspaper is the manager of the program of support of small and medium-sized business in the Republic of Belarus Ms. Yulia Persson.

       -  Yulia, what business associations were included in the program and why?
       - The associations that were included in the project during the first year are the following: Minsk Capital Association of Entrepreneurs and Employers, Association of Brest Region Entrepreneurs, Association of Employers and Entrepreneurs (Vitebsk Region) and Club of Entrepreneurs (Grodno). Public Association of Mogilev Region Entrepreneurs and Public Association of Private Business Assistance “Edinstvo” (“Unity”), Gomel Region have been created as a result of this project implementation in 2003.
       These structures have proved to be viable in the way that they actively develop their activity aimed at private business development in Belarus and above all they are active in advocacy, i.e. they protect interests of entrepreneurship and assist entrepreneurs in protecting their rights in the controlling and court organs. That’s why we have been cooperating with these business associations until today.
      -  What was the essence of the program?
      - During four years with help of IFC consultants and representatives of Swedish organizations-partners we have been holding regular – once a quarter – working meetings and workshops for staff members of Belarusian associations of entrepreneurs, heads of Belarusian enterprises and individual entrepreneurs. Belarusian business associations searched the experience of their Swedish colleagues to cooperate with their members and clients, render services and promote enterprises-partners to foreign markets. The topics of the workshop are “Business planning”, “Management”, Finance planning” and “HR policy”.
        We held education workshops in Minsk and regional centres of Belarus for women-entrepreneurs in 2006. In September we held a conference for Belarusian business women that hosted over 50 people.  During two days business women – founders and directors of Belarusian enterprises, individual entrepreneurs and representatives of MCAEE, regional business associations from Brest, Vitebsk, Grodno, Gomel and Mogilev have been educated on the territory of “Silichi” culture and sport centre.
       In November we held the final workshop “The best experience of activity of business associations. Finance management and administrating in business association” within the program of support of small and medium-sized business in the Republic of Belarus, in “Logoysk” skimountain centre. During three days we held education classes for heads of business associations from Minsk, Vitebsk, Brest, Grodno, Gomel and Mogilev. 
       - Did Sweden receive guests from Belarus?
       -  Yes, it is. Namely, 15 Belarusian enterprises – members of business associations – took part in the exhibition of enterprises-subcontractors “Elmia Subcontractor 2004” which is the largest subcontractor exhibition in the Northern Europe and the second in the world. We had contact-cooperative exchanges which hosted Swedish and Belarusian entrepreneurs.
       -  What do you consider the main result of the program implementation?
       -  I think that the main is effective business contacts between heads of partnership enterprises of MCAEE and regional business associations of Brest, Vitebsk, Gomel, Grodno and Mogilev and Swedish enterprises.
Lyubov Novikova