Economic Empowerment for Entrepreneurship and Employment

Photo Credit: UNDP Azerbaijan /Elmar Mustafayev

Project Summary

At the time of achieving independence, Azerbaijan was a low-income country striving to transition to the market economy. Despite the burden of the unresolved conflict, the country managed to restore economic stability and achieved high rates of growth. This growth was mainly fuelled by revenues from the oil industry although the government has acknowledged the need for creating employment and growth in the non-oil sectors.

Today Azerbaijan has achieved a relatively high GDP per capital which qualifies it to the Upper Middle Income category and has set more ambitious long-term development goals. As stated in the Azerbaijan: Vision 2020 national development concept, Azerbaijan recognizes the hydrocarbon reliance as a challenge and has declared its goal to move to a new economic structure driven by efficient and innovative non-oil sector employing skilled work force. One of the main directions to ensure progress towards this goal is creation of productive jobs to move the country along the path to efficiency and innovation.

In order to reach this goal, the country needs to pay particular attention to the existing labour market imbalances and address specific vulnerabilities. UNDP’s Study “Towards Decent Employment through Accelerated Structural Reform” (2013) identifies women and young people as vulnerable population groups with special needs to be considered in the process of developing new employment policies.

In order to create equal opportunities for employment for men and women, gender considerations should be at the center of any economic and social policies. Azerbaijan has a well-developed legislative base for protection of women’s economic rights. The Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan guarantees its citizens gender equality and freedom from all kinds of discrimination in all spheres of life. National legislation stipulates equal rights of men and women to engage in all types of economic activity, inherit, own and sell property, and receive bank loans. Azerbaijan ratified major international agreements on human rights, including the Convention on Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1995.

In the course of implementation of this project, UNDP will support the efforts of the SCFWCA in building capacity of rural women, generating productive cooperation between rural women entrepreneurs and financial institutions, developing gender sensitive programs and policies addressing the needs of rural women and collecting and analysing the data on needs and concerns of rural women in the area of economic empowerment and community development.

The purpose of this project revision is to support the State Committee for Family, Women and Children Affairs (SCFWCA) of the Republic of Azerbaijan in creation of opportunities for women and youth of Masalli region to fully participate in economic and social life of their community. This project will benefit from UNDP’s experience accumulated throughout the implementation of the similar projects in Sabirabad and Neftchala regions and will use the methodology already successfully tested.

Project Objectives

Overall Objective

  • Support economic empowerment for entrepreneurship and employment among rural and young women in Masalli region of Azerbaijan.

Specific Objectives

  • Support rural women willing to increase the level of their economic activity through capacity development and network building.
  • Strengthen the role of women in community based decision-making and build capacity of the central and local authorities to address the needs of women .

Expected Results

  • Establishment and capacity building of Masalli Women Resource Center (WRC);
  • Support to establishment of women-led businesses; increased gender awareness among target communities;
  • An increased sensitivity to gender issues among local- and central-level public officials;
  • Support to the development of job search and networking skills of young job-seekers. 

Project Accomplishments 

2016 2017
  • Assessment of the needs and concerns of rural women and the economic mapping of Masalli was conducted in June;
  • WRC were established and fully operational in Masalli since June, with 73 registered members of active women;
  • 27 women attended trainings on basics of business development and financial literacy;
  • Total of 14 new women-led businesses were jump-started in Masalli;
  • 21 women attended the training on Strengthening Women’s Social Participation in Masalli. The Annual Action plan was developed;
  • About 80 men and women attended the awareness raising workshops in Masalli;
  • 1000 booklets – Negative Impact of Violence Against Women - were published and distributed during the events;
  • Reports and recommendations from the Assessment of needs and concern and employment opportunities were published;
  • Training materials were developed on the 'Start and Improve your Business and Financial Literacy', 'NGO Establishment and Management' and 'Strengthening Women’s Social participation'themes.
  • WRC development Action Plan was established for 2017;
  • A series of trainings and a study tour to Germany in June were organised with the aim of capacity development;Training on policies for economic empowerment was held on July 6-8 in Masalli with participation. 18 municipality representatives, 2 Executive Committee employees, 2 representatives of the SCFWCA’s and 2 representatives of the UNDP. As a result, each municipality would appoint 2 active women as a contact person for cooperation with WRC;.
  • GBV events were conducted in 4 schools (Sherefe, Teze Alvadi, Hasanli, Hajitepe, and Regional College) with participation of 185 schoolchildren, teachers and parents during December;
  • WRC participated in the Job Fair held on the 4th of November. As a result,21 women and youth received official employment offer, 12 WRC members, 2 women from public and 5 members of SYSLAB were recruited;
  • The documentation for LNGO were prepared, officially notarised and submitted to the Ministry of Justice, also supported by the letter from the SCFWCA’s.
  • Premises for at least 20 participants were fully equipped and refurbished. Capacity building of WRC and network strengthening according to the Action plan was conducted.
  • A series of training sessions on financial literacy, family budget development, risk analysis and risk management were held in Masalli during the period of July, with more than 33 women attending the trainings.
  • ‘Financial Literacy and Family Budget Development’ and ‘Basics of Accounting’ trainings were held in Zaqatala (with participation of 16 women and 21 youth);
  • In August, an assessment of needs and concerns of rural women in the Zaqatala region and surrounding villages was conducted with the purpose to collect qualitative data reflecting the socio-economic needs and issues of women residing in the area and surrounding villages and highlight successful practices in women’s social and economic participation.
  • In November, a labour market assessment was conducted in Zaqatala to identify demands in the local employment market that could be filled by active women seeking employment in the region. 28 companies have participated at the interviews. Following this, a report highlighting the issues, opportunities and recommendations has been produced.
  • On November 29-30, a two-day raining session on job search skills, CV writing, and presentation skills was conducted for 29 participants in Zaqatala;
  • A workshop on business start-up and basic financial literacy was held with a subsequent submission of micro-project business proposals by the participants for the “Business Plan Competition”. An average of $2.000 per award was given to 10 finalists in each region. Overall, 23 businesses have been finalised by the commission and proceeded further for the environmental compliance verification.
  • An environmental assessment of the finalists’ projects was conducted by the local experts in July for the 23 businesses in Masalli, followed by the final project approval by the donors.
  • In October 2018, 23 women have been awarded with in kind materials and successfully launched their entrepreneurship projects.
  • An Awareness Raising and Sensitisation meeting was held among the WRC members and the project teams to discuss the change in gender stereotyping related to the choice of jobs and gender-based distribution of family duties.
  • Continuous support for female job seekers was provided through a coordinated networking process between the workers and the potential employers and further assistance was provided for linking the project beneficiaries with potential suppliers and customers.
  • In June, a three-day interactive workshop on NGO Management and Development was held to strengthen the organisational capacity of a Masalli NGO, “Support to women social participation in Masalli”, with the participation of 13 active WRC members. The workshop highlighted the importance of human and financial resources management and reporting and monitoring, and covered topics such as the organisational structure of the NGO, its mission, goals and activities, strategic planning, project management cycle and partnership and stakeholder’s analysis.
  • A series of events and meetings were organised by the Masalli WRC to ensure better access to information on women’s economic rights, social protection, employment and credit opportunities among the local population, as well as highlight the accomplishments of the project participants;
  • On July 6, SCFWCA and UNDP representatives travelled to Zaqatala to introduce the E4 Project to local authorities. As a result of the presentation, the establishment of a local Women Resources Centre and Syslab Centre were officially approved. The purchasing of equipment and furniture for the Zaqatala WRC was finalised in September. The WRC was fully set, landline phone was procured, and internet access was established. The recruitment process and the selection of the WRC Coordinator had been finalised upon approval from the key project personnel from USAID.
  • In August, a series of trainings on the “Strengthening Women’s Social Participation in Rural and Sub-Urban Areas” have been conducted in Zaqatala with the participation of 30 women;
  • A training on the “Development of policies and programmatic interventions in the area of economic empowerment and community-based activism of women” was also organised for the staff of local executive authority and municipalities of Zaqatala and the SCFWCA;
  • The Annual project progress reports for 2018 were prepared and submitted to the State Committee for Family, Women and Children Affairs, USAID and UNDP.
  • Regular informal meetings between project management, UNDP and the Committee took place to monitor the project progress and address any issues/problems.
  • Regular meetings with the donor took place to update on the progress of the project and address related issues.
  • Overall, The Annual Work Plan and Project targets and specific activities that were set up at the beginning of year were achieved.



December 2015


December 2022






AZE_State Comm. Fam, Wom&Child














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