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Private Sector Development
Training and capacity development

Pragma has extensive experience providing training and capacity development services in developing countries. Pragma’s experience and capabilities are detailed below.

Pragma is currently implementing a five-year $17.4 million USAID-funded Enterprise Development and Market Competitive-ness Project in Armenia (EDMC). The overall goal of EDMC is to assist the Armenian private sector (primarily SMEs) to sustainably transform the competitiveness of high potential value chains in the Armenian economy; in a manner which will drive major increases in private investment and export growth, and expand employment. The EDMC program provides targeted technical and training support designed to improve strategic and operational management capacity, encourage technology transfer, strengthen quality control capacity, and enhance market linkages for enterprises in selected value chains. The training component focuses on defining and effectively addressing the most critical labor supply shortfalls in key occupational skill niches which are limiting enterprise competitiveness in key value chains; and improving the responsiveness of the vocational education and training system in Armenia to respond to priority labor market training needs.

In 2003-2008, Pragma implemented the USAID-funded Rural Enterprise Competitiveness Project in Azerbaijan (RECP). The program provided high-impact technical/training and market linkage support at the firm and value-chain level, designed to sustainably address constraints limiting the expansion of high value-added product sales in domestic and export markets. Strategic local institutional awareness-raising and capacity building activities were designed to develop and promote local business support service provider networks and to generate significant income
and job-creation benefits for a broad range of producers/processors in selected value chains (including a strong focus on women-owned SMEs). To support achievement of project objectives, RECP jumpstarted local institutional support for the formation of the Azerbaijan Agribusiness Marketing Council, which focused on competitiveness, trade, and investment issues facing the sector as a whole. The project also supported formation of a local entity, the Azerbaijan Agribusiness Center (AAC), designed to provide sustainable agribusiness development-related consulting/training services. The AAC provided urgently needed consulting services to agricultural and agribusiness clients.

Over the course of four years (2002-2006), Pragma implemented a $41 million USAID-funded Enterprise Development Program (EDP) in five countries of Central Asia (CAR). EDP focused on improving the competitiveness of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in CAR and their effective integration into value chain networks. EDP placed a heavy focus on outreach to woman-owned businesses and youth – particularly in the Ferghana Valley, a post-conflict region with susceptibility to extremist religious and political influences. The use of over 100 local training providers and a local staff of over 100 professionals underscored EDP’s focus on developing local capacity to drive sustainable enhancement of productivity, financial management, and value chain linkages for SMEs. A results-focused farmer training program emphasized practical farm management and technology transfer knowledge to small groups of farmers and effectively linked those groups to value chain networks through contracts with local processors. EDP also forged a Global Development Alliance (GDA) with ExxonMobil in Kazakhstan to form the Astana Enterprise Development Center Global Development Alliance (through the Women and Girls Grant Program sponsored by the ExxonMobil Corporation). Through this GDA, EDP leveraged $300,000 from Exxon to train and assist woman entrepreneurs. EDP supported over 150 business associations through grants and strategic consulting services; and assisted 40 clients in achieving ISO-9001:2000 certification, and 55 clients in passing pre-certification audits. Through EDP efforts, the accounting/audit profession in Central Asia was transformed: 13,840 accounting professionals passed examinations and received accounting certification and 53,425 were tested in international accounting standards. The accounting/audit profession has thus been sustainably transformed across the CAR, through a network of EDP-supported and internationally accredited associative bodies which have dynamically disseminated western accounting/audit standards and practices and academic/training curricula throughout Central Asia.

The $9 million Kazakhstan Small Business Development Project (KSBD) (2006-2010), jointly funded by USAID and the Government of Kazakhstan, focused on building the capacity of local business service providers and provision of technical assistance and training to the Government in the area of SME policy and support. The project successfully provided technical assistance to the Government Enterprise Development Fund in the areas of loan guarantees and support of its access to credit programs for SMEs. This resulted in the Fund’s decision to work through commercial banks instead of engaging in the distortive practice of directed lending (to avoid driving out private sources of finance). As a result, the Fund received an additional $100 million from the Kazakh Government for its lending program. KSBD also established a nation-wide network of Business Service Providers that now successfully trains existing and potential entrepreneurs in ILO’s Business Essentials, Consulting Essentials and Start Your Business courses; and provides effectively targeted consulting services to entrepreneurs. The project successfully mobilized over $800,000 of additional funding from oil companies working in the region. The funding was used to introduce Know About Business (KAB) courses in vocational schools throughout Kazakhstan. At the end of the project, 642 new teachers were certified in all 14 oblasts, 114,000 students were receiving KAB training during 2009-2010 academic year, and the number of vocational schools with at least 1 KAB teacher increased from 35 to 517. Furthermore, the KAB program is now a part of the national vocational schools curriculum, and therefore a self-sustainable and on-going Entrepreneurship program in Kazakhstan. The program represents a successful example of effective public-private partnerships to develop the national work force, specifically in terms of employers investing in the creation of a skilled work force.

The $20 million Trade Facilitation and Investment (TFI) project TFI aimed to improve the trade and investment legal/regulatory climate and administrative framework environment for SMEs, and to enhance regional and international market integration linkages (with a strong focus on empowerment of women-owned businesses through focused grants).

TFI provided expert technical/training assistance and local institutional-strengthening support to promote the core policy, legal, and regulatory reforms required to enhance integration into international trade/investment networks, and to build local institutional buy-in/capacity to promote sustainable trade reform and integration progress. Critical foci included technical assistance to agencies responsible for World Trade Organization (WTO) accession negotiations/membership; national and regional workshops and training to enhance institutional capacity regarding the benefits and implementation of trade agreements; assistance in developing trade-related legislation and regulations to ensure consistency with WTO requirements; and responses to queries from government agencies on WTO accession and key trade reform implementation issues.

Through WIPO and WCO-supported workshops and specialized training (in collaboration with the Intellectual Property Committee of the Ministry of Justice), TFI improved customs office training and procedural knowledge of best practices on intellectual property rights (IPR) enforcements. As a result, Kazakhstan was officially removed from the IPR Watch List in 2006.

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