Azerbaijan’s Agency for the Development of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) under the Ministry of Economy opened its first-ever House in northern Khachmaz region on February 7.

Addressing the opening ceremony, Economy Minister Mikayil Jabbarov said that turning small and medium-sized businesses into a driving economic force is one of the priority directions of economic reforms led by President Ilham Aliyev. He stressed that increasing the role of entrepreneurship amounts to ensuring sustainable economic development in the country.

"Created as the continuation of the state support measures for entrepreneurs, the House and Center of SMEs in Khachmaz, is a convenient platform in terms of providing entrepreneurs with high-quality and transparent services," he said.

During the event, it was noted that the House of SMEs will facilitate the work of entrepreneurs in Khachmaz and surrounding regions, stimulate the development of small and medium-sized businesses, the creation of new SMEs, and tapping the region’s economic potential.

Chairman of SMEs Development Agency Orkhan Mammadov, said that SMEs services provide government-to-business (G2B) and business-to-business (B2B) services based on state-of-the-art innovation, responsiveness and flexibility.

It was noted that the House of SMEs will assist in initiating startup projects, developing business and marketing plans, increasing business knowledge, registering businesses, receiving licence, receiving access to financial resources, doing accounting, import-export clearance, logistics and infrastructure networks, exports to domestic and foreign markets, promotion of export and other areas.

A total of 200 G2B and up to 100 B2B services will be available at the House of SMEs. Offices, meeting rooms and conference halls will also function there.

The SME Development Center will support micro, small and medium-sized businesses in the implementation of their business ideas through numerous consulting and training services.

The main task of the SMEs Development Agency is ensuring the succession of reforms, improvement of the business regulation system, and the application of effective coordination, enhancing the role and competitiveness of SMEs in the country's economy, as well as the compliance of the management system in this area with modern requirements.

The SMEs held a share of 76 percent in employment in the country last year, and in recent years, comprehensive work has been carried out for the development of SMEs. In particular, inspections of business entities have been suspended and the process of obtaining licenses has been simplified.

The share of SMEs in Azerbaijan's foreign trade is planned to increase to 40 percent after 2025.