WASHINGTON March 5, 2020 — The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved a $100 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) to help finance the Azerbaijan Employment Support Project.
The project’s goal is to help the most vulnerable among Azerbaijan’s population attain employment and income, by promoting self-employment opportunities in labor markets where job opportunities are currently scarce. The project will focus specifically on women, youth, people with low levels of education, and internally displaced persons in the country.
“This is an important project for Azerbaijan and its efforts to improve employment opportunities for the most vulnerable in society,” said Naveed Naqvi, World Bank Country Manager for Azerbaijan. “Helping those who are most often excluded from the labor market is key to reducing poverty and ensuring more inclusive economic growth.”
To achieve its goals, the project will enhance the government’s national Self-Employment Program, by supporting start-ups in the services and production sectors, expanding the program to include an average of 5,000 additional beneficiaries per year, improving governance, coordination, monitoring and evaluation of the program, and testing business support for beneficiaries with strong potential to grow businesses.
The project will also improve the capacity of the State Employment Services to perform better assessments of job-seeking clients and provide counseling, job matching, and referral to appropriate employment programs.
“The Government of Azerbaijan is committed to tackling barriers to accessing formal wage employment, by promoting self-employment,” said Maddalena Honorati, co-leader of the World Bank team that prepared the project. “This project complements and builds upon the accomplishments of the Self-Employment Program, introducing measures that have been tested in other countries and are expected to improve the program’s efficiency and impact.”
The Azerbaijan Employment Support Project supports the goals of the World Bank Country Partnership Framework for Azerbaijan, which stresses the importance of investing in human development and tackling social challenges such as high levels of informality, underemployment, and low labor force participation among women and youth.
The project, which will be implemented over a period of five years, will also contribute to addressing disparities between rural and urban areas, as well as across income groups and gender in Azerbaijan.