On 20 October, the EU-supported Arbitration and Mediation Centre started operating in Armenia. The vision and statutes of the new organisation were presented at the launch event in Yerevan.
“The EU advocates and supports the introduction of alternative dispute resolution measures in Armenia, with a particular focus on arbitration. It plays an important role in helping to find quick and fair solutions to complex cases facing the business world,” said Andrea Wiktorin, Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia.
The event was also attended by representatives of the Armenian Ministry of Justice, the Central Bank of Armenia, diplomatic missions, international organisations, international and local experts in arbitration.
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The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) announced that it will support Ukraine’s Bank Lviv with up to €10 million to lend to private enterprises, including food security clients and those who have relocated their businesses to western Ukraine.
The EBRD’s share of €4.25 million will be complemented by up to €5.75 million funding from other lenders, including €4.75 million jointly contributed by the European Fund for Southeastern Europe (EFSE) and the Green for Growth Fund (GGF).
The loan falls within the EBRD’s Resilience and Livelihoods Framework (RLF) for companies and countries affected by Russia’s war on Ukraine, which began on 24 February. With donors and partners, the EBRD has pledged to invest €1 billion into the Ukrainian economy this year.
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Flying into the sky is a childhood dream for many. For Huang Yanbiao, his dream has taken wings. As an airplane engineer and a CPC member, he believes that young people could better serve the people by contributing to new industries and businesses in the new era.
Produced by Xinhua Global Service
The global coronavirus pandemic is a daunting challenge for Ukraine, which has been trying to reform its healthcare system. Its civil society, volunteers and private business have stepped up as usual. UkraineWorld looked into how they are uniting their efforts against the spread of COVID-19 and supporting the country’s most vulnerable.
As Euromaidan and Russia's war against Ukraine have shown, Ukrainians know how to take on imposing adversaries, though this time the enemy is invisible. While the government is expecting humanitarian assistance from China and financial help from international funds, the country's people are doing their part. Since the start of the quarantine on 17 March, numerous private and public initiatives have sprung into action to help the country's healthcare workers, elderly people and those with disabilities.
As of the end of March, Ukrainian hospitals, together with clinics being repurposed into treatment centers, have had less than 4,000 ventilators in Ukraine, according to Ukraine's Chief Sanitary Doctor, Dr. Viktor Liashko.
The urgent need for ventilators and basic protection for medical staff has prompted the private sector to come to the rescue of the country's healthcare system.
Ukraine's top private postal service, Nova Poshta, was one of the first companies to act. The company donated 25 million hryvnias (899 425 USD) to equip hospitals in Poltava Region. "Business in our country has never had ideal circumstances," the co-owner of Nova Poshta, Volodymyr Popreshniuk, stated, "But now it's about survival and saving jobs." The founders urged other businessmen to join, and many have. FC Vorskla and the mining company Ferrexpo have agreed to help financially.
Corporate charitable and social actions have become a rescue force in cities across Ukraine. In Lviv, Ukraine's tourist gem of the west, one of the biggest IT companies, SoftServe, directed 10 million hryvnias to hospitals for medicines, equipment and everything necessary in cities which host its offices. Other industry peers have followed their example, including Intellias, which created a special team to track the pandemic situation in Ukraine and pledged to buy coronavirus 10 000 test kits.
At the national level, banks, large businessmen and even oligarchs have joined the fight against the virus. PrivatBank and the founder of Monobank have raised and sent money to buy ventilators for hospitals. Many have started to provide free consultations, free online courses and discounts to ease life for those who have to work or those who are helping the situation by staying home.
In Odesa, a volunteering group called Monsters Corporation is helping local hospitals alongside business and philanthropists. The head of the organization, Kateryna Nozhevnikova, regularly reports on the situation on her Facebook. Volunteers have already supplied thousands of pieces of protective gear and basic sanitary items, and started to help the elderly people who are most at risk.
"In Odesa, there are 5 500 pensioners in need of special care. And there is no way they can leave their houses," posted Yulia Kanazirska, the coordinator of the project Kind Dinner. The anti-crisis centre in Odesa Region, Odesa vs. COVID, mobilised local businesses to supply those most vulnerable with groceries and everyday needs. This is also the main mission of organizations like Starenki [Elderly -ed.], Lifelover, the Sant'Egidio community and Help a Homeless Person.
Different groups of volunteers are also trying to counter the shortage of face masks by sewing them. Some of the initiatives started to help supply Ukrainian soldiers with clothes and equipment in the frontline in 2014 are now raising money for protective gear and ventilators, as well as sewing face masks to combat the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
While dozens of NGOs and newly-emerged initiatives such as Solidarnist have been making every effort to counter the spread of the infectious disease, local governments around Ukraine were forced to respond to the challenge of the coronavirus.
Kyiv alone has more than 12 000 elderly people living by themselves to take care of. The mayor of Kyiv, Vitaliy Klychko, said the city has organized the delivery of groceries, medicines and hygienic necessities for lonely pensioners.
Similar steps have been taken in other regions. For instance, in Rivne Region, the administrative council decided to provide people with disabilities as well as the elderly with all they need to prevent them from coming into contact with other people. Ukraine has also tried to involve its state enterprises. The postal service UkrPoshta and Liki24.com have launched free delivery of medicines to Ukraine's remote villages and towns for the period of quarantine.
Once the quarantine began, public transport was severely limited and soon suspended due to the emergency situation. For this reason, Lviv city council even made an agreement with car services Uklon, Bolt, and Uber to provide free rides for healthcare workers at hospitals that treat patients with the coronavirus. At the end of March, Kyiv Uber Shuttle transformed into Shuttle Heroes, and is providing healthcare workers with free trips with promotional codes distributed through healthcare administrations and the state online service.
Even before the formal measures, Ukrainian car drivers had started to offer free rides for healthcare workers since the start of quarantine measures.
In Kyiv, Chernivtsi, Lviv, Rivne and other regions, they instantly created messenger channels and Facebook groups to help medical personnel get to their workplaces. Andriy Didun, a local businessman from Uzhhorod (Zakarpattia Region), was the first to take this initiative when the public transport was suspended in Uzhhorod. Today, "Pick up a Medic" (or "Help a Medic") is a common act of solidarity across Ukraine that helps healthcare workers to do their jobs.
Despite the coming financial calamity, small businesses have not stood on the sidelines. Together with other entrepreneurs, Didun, who sells mobile phone accessories, managed to raise money and buy necessary protective gear and basic things for infectious disease departments and hospitals.
"The infectious clinics had nothing -- neither gloves, nor masks, nor special clothes," he shared with UkraineWorld. He found the situation with protective clothing difficult because there was a lot of speculatory purchasing on the Internet. "This gear protects against chemicals, not viruses. But we can use it if there are no other options. I have friends in regional hospitals, and the situation is catastrophic there," Didun added.
The personal urge to help is where corporate solidarity started. Khrystyna Zhuk from Lviv decided to hang an announcement in her neighborhood. "I wrote that I could go to the grocery store or the pharmacy, that I would walk dogs and cats for people in high-risk groups, pregnant women, or those suffering from coronary artery disease." Not many asked for her help. "Since the situation is not critical yet," Zhuk assumes, "probably not many people are taking it seriously".
Nevertheless, as the head of the marketing department of La Piec pizzeria, Zhuk started her company's free pizza deliveries to infectious disease clinics and emergency hospitals in Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk and Vinnytsia. "When I saw that they were delivering pizza to doctors for free in Italy, I thought it was a brilliant idea!" she recalled to UkraineWorld. "And that's what we're doing now".
Up to 100 Georgian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are now in a better position to take advantage of the benefits of the free trade agreement between the EU and Georgia.
The EU-supported project ‘SME Development and DCFTA in Georgia’ has helped to establish three business clusters in the country and to lay the groundwork for two more, reaching out to 100 SMEs specialising in furniture, interior design, film production and post-production, ICT, apparel and honey production.
As a result of the 4-year project, these SMEs have received access to leading international expertise to help them identify opportunities for capacity and product development, better competitiveness and integration with the European market.
Cluster member SMEs currently employ more than 1,400 staff members in Georgia.
02.04.2018 Up to 1,150 advisory projects with local small and medium-sizes enterprises (SMEs) were implemented by the Advice for Small Businesses (ASB) team of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) since the launch of the program in 2003, in Georgia. Around half of the projects were carried out outside the capital city, and about 1/5 of the enterprises were led and/or managed by female entrepreneurs.
The EBRD’s Advice for Small Businesses team connects Georgian SMEs with local consultants and international advisers to transform a huge range of businesses from industries, such as food and beverages, wholesale and retail distribution, construction and engineering.
SMEs enrolled in the programme benefit from know-how and customised advice that enhance business competitiveness and foster adaption to the new business environments. The programme has a special focus to help SMEs meet new food safety and hygiene standards, while improving the export potential to enable them fully enjoy the free trade area with the European Union – the world’s largest trading block.
“Access to knowledge and expertise is one of the preconditions for the businesses to be effective and successful not only in Georgia, but around the world. We work with wide range of enterprises to support their efforts of aligning with European standards, putting efficient systems in place and fostering innovation and competitiveness,” says Severian Gvinepadze, Principal Manager of EBRD SME Finance and Development Group.
Currently, the EBRD’s Advice for Small Businesses activities in Georgia are supported by the European Union (grant funding) under its EU4Business Initiative, the Early Transition Countries Fund**, Sweden and the EBRD Shareholder Special Fund.
"Congratulations to our partner EBRD for 15 years of valuable work on small business advice! Thanks to the work of the team, we were able to support Georgian SMEs in their ambitions of increasing competiveness, establishing stronger economic ties with the EU, and running truly efficient and modern businesses. The EBRD is a key partner for European Union’s EU4Business initiative, an umbrella initiative that covers all EU activities supporting SMEs in the Eastern Partnership countries” says Vincent Rey, Head of Cooperation at the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia.
“My company Madam Wine has been supported with advisory services in marketing. With help from a local consultant, I set up a new website through which I was able to attract more clients from abroad and signed a three year contract to export my product to Azerbaijan- 50,000 bottles annually. ” says Manana Akhvlediani, Madam Wine CEO.
*Since the start, the programme has been funded by the European Union, the EBRD Early Transition Countries Fund, the EBRD Shareholder Special Fund, Canada, Sweden and the TaiwanBusiness-EBRD Technical Cooperation Fund.
**Donors to Early Transition Countries Fund are Canada, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taipei China and the United Kingdom.
The EBRD was established in 1991 to meet the challenge of an extraordinary moment in Europe’s history, the collapse of communism in its East. The EBRD is the largest single investor in its existing region. With its Headquarters in London and with a capital base of €30 billion and a AAA rating from all three main rating agencies (S&P, Moody’s and Fitch), the Bank’s investments also mobilise significant foreign direct investment into its countries of operations. It invests mainly in private enterprises, usually together with commercial partners. It provides project financing for the financial sector and the real economy, both new ventures and investments in existing companies. It also works with publicly-owned companies to support privatisation, the restructuring of state-owned firms and improvement of municipal services.
The EBRD is owned by 66 countries, from five continents, including China, including two intergovernmental institutions (the European Union and the European Investment Bank). It maintains a close political dialogue with governments, authorities and representatives of civil society to promote its goals. It also works in cooperation with international organisations such as the OECD, the IMF, the World Bank and UN specialised agencies.
The EBRD operates in 38 economies from central Europe to central Asia and southern and eastern Mediterranean and has over 40 local offices.