Many small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) in Armenia feel that their main problems start at their own borders, with the taxes and customs regulations applied by the Armenian authorities. However, few of them raise these issues, as most entrepreneurs are concerned about confidentiality and the consequences of their actions – factors that create obstacles to business development.
This is where bizprotect.am comes in, a new whistle-blowing website where SMEs can anonymously report corruption risks and other problems faced by their enterprise. Bizprotect.am has been created under the EU-funded SMEDA project (Support to SME Development in Armenia), part of the European Union’s broader support for private sector development under the EU4Business initiative.
As soon as a business submits a complaint, experts at bizprotect.am examine the report and provide a quick response. The experts do not know who has submitted the report, meaning it is 100 per cent confidential. The website was developed by the Union of Technology Enterprises (UITE), with its consortium partners the Armenian Lawyer’s Association and the European Business Association in the framework of the SMEDA project. The website was launched in April 2017. They have already received 32 reports within the last five months, with 10 of those complaints already resolved.
UITE lawyer Arkadi Sahakyan explains that, within the framework of the programme, they have had numerous meetings with business representatives both in the capital Yerevan and in regions around Armenia. They have discussed issues relating to tax and customs services, as well as issues of broader economic competitiveness: “During those meetings we have raised several issues, which we will communicate to the Government of Armenia in the form of suggestions and recommendations. And after the end of the programme, we will monitor whether our suggestions have been accepted and implemented. As those issues came out in practice, they hinder the development of the businesses. And we want to have a strong economy which will help to step up and develop our country.”
According to Diana Sarumova, Executive Director of the European Business Association, the project has succeeded in creating a dialogue platform for the public and private sectors which business representatives trust: “During this year we can already feel that the level of trust is increasing. Businesses are starting actively to voice their problems. As a result, we have many success stories. And we have realised that, when you work together, you can achieve great results in Armenia.”
To read the whole article “From innovation to social entrepreneurs: how EU4Business helps SME development in Armenia and how the country’s entrepreneurs respond” press HERE.
Author: Ami Chichakyan