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USAID Local Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Project Launched in Belarus

An opening ceremony of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Local Entrepreneurship and Economic Development (LEED) Project, implemented in Belarus by the United Nations Development Programme, was held in Minsk on September 5.

The project aims to increase the role of the private sector in the economies of Brest and Hrodna regions and in the generally vibrant tourism sector of Belarus. The project budget totals US$ 1,946,000. The Ministry of Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Belarus will be the national implementing agency for this project.

The project intends to give particular attention to creating enabling environment for the private sector development in eco-tourism, as well as facilitating public-private dialogue in Brest and Hrodna regions.

An important part of the project will be the elaboration of local eco-tourism development strategies by local administrations, civil society, and private sector representatives for at least 16 pilot tourism destinations (eight for each region). The strategies will aim at promoting the cluster model of ecotourism development, based on the principles of eco-friendly economic growth.
It is expected to select and finance broad scope activities of Belarusian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in ecotourism sector development – two large initiatives will receive up to US$ 50,000. Funding in the amount of up to US$ 15,000 will be provided to about 30 thematic initiatives of NGOs, business support centers, and other non-governmental entities active in eco-tourism.

The project also incorporates a large capacity building component for entrepreneurs, as well as creation and piloting of modern marketing tools and multi-lingual promotion materials for the Belarusian ecotourism destinations.

To complement the national efforts of promoting eco-tourism, which have already yielded impressive results, the Local Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Project will bring the best international expertise into the country in areas such as strategic planning, hospitality standards, eco-tourism business and financial management, etc., and provide training to entrepreneurs active in eco-tourism, – said Antonius Broek, UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative in Belarus addressing the event participants.

Vadim Karmazin, Director of Tourism Department of the Ministry of Sports and Tourism, said that in future the Belarusian authorities intend to extend positive experience of project implementation in the two pilot regions to other regions of the country.

– This partnership with USAID and UNDP will give Belarusians the opportunity to join, with many others, in the global community who embrace themes of entrepreneurship, and private sector and small business development. We see this program as a way for Belarus to facilitate local economic development, integrate into business partnerships, and to attract foreign investment, – stressed Ethan Goldrich, Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of the United States of America to the Republic of Belarus.

John Riordan, USAID Country Representative, expressed confidence that a robust private sector is a major source of economic prosperity.

– It has been our experience that Belarusian entrepreneurs have a remarkable potential for improving the well-being of the local communities, thus, we look forward to this new dynamic initiative in collaboration with UNDP. We believe that the Local Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Project will create new opportunities for private sector growth in the Western part of Belarus, and, potentially, serve a model for replication of its experiences in other regions of Belarus, – said Mr. Riordan in his welcoming remark.

The project opening ceremony was attended by the national experts, representatives of educational establishments and non-governmental organizations contributing to the development of sustainable tourism and entrepreneurship in Belarus, representatives of the European diplomatic missions in Belarus and international organizations.

PowerPoint presentation (in Russian) made at the opening ceremony by Marina Barouka, Project Manager, can be downloaded here.

For further information, please contact Siarhei Kuzniatsou, Public Relations and Events Coordinator, tel.: +375 29 324-51-14, e-mail: .

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