As of October 2023, the Azerbaijan Entrepreneurship Development Fund had sponsored over 2,500 projects with preferential loans, Deputy Chairman of the Azerbaijani Entrepreneurship Development Fund Eldar Hamidov said at the II Baku Forum on Sustainable Development, Trend reports. He stated that 97 percent of these loans have been provided to micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Azerbaijan. "We recognize the importance of our role in fostering sustainable development in Azerbaijan by providing accessible and low-cost financing to entrepreneurs, which directly contributes to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our first aim is to achieve the SDGs' first goal, 'End poverty in all its manifestations,' and we may showcase our efforts in this area," the official explained. "In response to the COVID-19 pandemic problems, the fund demonstrated its commitment to assisting Azerbaijani SMEs. We properly managed the total credit portfolio during that time. The goal of this progr am was to assist businesses in retaining jobs, continuing to pay salaries, and dealing with other issues brought by the pandemic," Hamidov noted. "The 2nd Goal of the SDGs is to end hunger, ensure food security, and promote sustainable agriculture. The fund's priority direction is supporting the development of the agricultural sector. This strategic direction aims to stimulate regional economic growth and aligns with broader goals, such as replacing imported agricultural goods with locally produced ones and expanding Azerbaijan's food exports," he also said. "To achieve this, we provide preferential loans, and to date, the total amount of loans issued to agricultural businesses producing goods is 526 million manat ($309 million), with the agricultural credit portfolio for the production of agricultural products being 282 million manat ($165.8 million). Thus, the fund's goal in this direction is the development of sustainable agriculture in the country," the official noted. Hamidov also pointed out that the fund has financed a 'green' project. "To date, the fund has financed a 'green' project in the amount of two million manat ($1.18 million). It's not a very large amount, but we've just started, and we hope to increase it to two billion manat ($1.18 billion) at the next forum. Within the seventh goal of the SDGs, the priority is the official construction of 'green' financing projects as a strategic priority, as well as encouraging businesses to transition to renewable energy sources and increasing awareness and understanding of 'green' financing terms in business circles," he added. The II Baku Forum on Sustainable Development aims to strengthen the exchange of experience and cooperation with the countries of the region and international organizations in the direction of the implementation of the UN Agenda 2030. Senior officials of Europe and CIS countries, representatives of the UN, international financial and regional organizations, state institutions, civil society, the private sector, and experts are par ticipating in the event.
Source: TREND News Agency