Initial situation / Problem
Armenia's private sector is confronted with a number of obstacles to development. This applies in particular to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Deficits include inadequate access to credit, a lack of skilled workers and advisory services, and insufficient consideration of SMEs in shaping the economic framework in Armenia. SMEs lack, among other things, professional chambers and associations that effectively represent their interests vis-à-vis authorities and government agencies and offer them good services to improve business development.
The declared aim of SMEDA is to contribute the improvement of the business and investment climate in Armenia and to promote SMEs for the creation of broad-based economic growth. Strengthening BMOs plays an important role in the project with regard to SME promotion.
Concept of the BMO Academy
The concept starts at central points of work with chambers and associations:
Member surveys: What consulting needs do the member companies have and what services do they want from their BMOs?
Membership development: Strategies for keeping existing members in a BMO and for attracting new members
Internal communication: Communication channels between association bodies, between main and honorary office as well as between association and members
External communication: Public relations work and dialogue between BMOs and actors from politics and society
The following actions are part of the concept:
- A four-day training course for representatives of 13 selected Armenian BMOs (regional chambers, sector associations, other business associations) was held in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, at the end of January/beginning of February 2018 to convey the above-mentioned topics. Three international experts from chamber and association practice presented the topics and in the process incorporated the experiences of the participants from their BMOs into working groups.
- The prerequisite for participation in the training was that the BMOs committed themselves to defining their own projects related to the training topics. Following the training, the BMOs were then advised by the trainers on the implementation of their projects via Skype (February 2018). Examples of such projects are an online platform for exchange between association members, the development of a strategy for membership recruitment and the implementation of a survey of BMO members according to their needs.
- This was followed by a five-day expert visit of the Armenian BMOs who had participated in the training to Austria and the Czech Republic in order to get to know the work of chambers and associations there, especially with regard to the training topics (March 2018).
- Subsequently, two of the above-mentioned international experts visited the individual Armenian BMOs at their locations to advise them on the implementation of their projects and further improvements (coaching, preparation April - June 2018, visit to Armenia in July 2018). Most BMOs received practical recommendations on which they can now continue to work.
The building blocks of the BMO Academy are complementary and build on each other:
GIZ plans to continue working with sequa until mid-2019. In particular, selected concrete BMO services for SMEs with some particularly promising Armenian BMOs should be developed.