How do we accelerate green economic growth by supporting private sector?
Taking Green Strides: Becoming an Eco-Friendly Business
June 26, 2023
The private sector plays a crucial role in driving green growth in developing nations. In North Macedonia, the transition towards circular economy models holds immense potential, projected to create up to 8,000 new green jobs and generate 47 million euros for the economy by 2030. Despite decreasing unemployment rates, the country still faces challenges such as low labor activity and weak capacity within companies to create sustainable jobs. Addressing these issues while prioritizing socially and environmentally sustainable recovery is essential.
One success story exemplifying this approach is NAMATEKS, a small textile company specializing in jeans production. In 2022, NAMATEKS was among the 150 applicants who sought support through a newly introduced employment measure initiated by UNDP and national partners to promote sustainable growth in the private sector through green investments. Located in Valandovo, a town with a rich textile industry tradition, NAMATEKS, established in 2000, employs around 80 individuals, predominantly women.
Like many others, NAMATEKS faced setbacks in growth and innovation due to the COVID-19 crisis, including disrupted supply chains and order cancellations. However, the company's owner, Vesna Koceva, remains optimistic about overcoming these challenges. "Managing a business in Macedonia, especially during global energy crises, is highly challenging. We applied for support and were selected. With the grant received, we installed photovoltaic panels on our premises to generate our own electricity. Additionally, we hired two individuals who were immediately integrated into our operations. This significant step for our small firm allows us to reduce costs and waste, enhance our brand, and contribute to the environment."
With the nonrefundable grant funds, NAMATEKS installed 94 solar panels on a 237 m2 roof space. As a result, they now produce their own electrical power, leading to a 50% reduction in monthly costs. However, NAMATEKS has no intention of halting its growth here. The company plans to embark on a digital transformation journey by acquiring new digital machines in the near future.
To ensure a comprehensive and ambitious approach, it is crucial to align national and EU strategies, encompassing energy, state aid, and trade policies, with a clear focus on SMEs, as emphasized by Euratex. Integrating green measures into the national Employment Plan aligns with this recommendation.
"In the post-pandemic recovery period, with the challenges of energy and food crises, the need for a green, resilient recovery and a green finance strategy becomes even more apparent. This measure encourages job creation while accelerating the green transformation of the private sector through the introduction of green products, services, technologies, or processes within enterprises," highlighted Mladen Frckovski, Head of the Unit of Active Labour Measures within the Ministry.
The 2022 employment measure saw immediate success, with 150 applications received, seeking support for the creation of up to 350 new jobs. So far, 81 new jobs have been generated, with approximately 291,000 USD granted for implementing green investments.
Many companies plan to invest in photovoltaic panels for electricity generation, while others focus on energy efficiency measures such as thermal insulation, thermal heat pumps, and procurement of energy-efficient machinery and equipment. The Employment Agency plays a crucial role in implementing this "green measure."
"The measure offers financial support in the form of nonrefundable grants for job creation and green investments. Green investments, as a form of socially responsible investing, will continue to be a central pillar of the national Employment Plan," stated Bekim Murati, Director of the Employment Service Agency.
The projected contribution to the private sector for 2022 amounted to around 409.000 USD, while in 2023, recognizing the high companies’ interest for this type of support, increased to 639.000 USD.