THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
U.S. Assists Ukraine in Small and Medium Enterprise Development
President Clinton announced today plans to establish a multi-million dollar micro-enterprise credit program for Ukraine, modeled after the successful Fundusz Mikro program in Poland and a new, five-year, $25 million program called BIZPRO to support the development of small and medium sized private businesses, a key to sustainable economic growth in Ukraine.
Micro-enterprise credit program: The United States, the Polish "Fundusz Mikro" and Ukraine will work together on this initiative to address a major constraint to economic growth in Ukraine -- a severe lack of credit resources for small business ventures. The Government of Ukraine has agreed to provide the necessary legal and regulatory environment to create this program and ensure its success.
More than three million Ukrainians are involved in small and micro-businesses. Many lack business experience, reside in rural areas, and were formerly engaged in agricultural activities. They have been deprived of opportunities to engage in business due in part to a lack of access to credit, training and business support services available in cities.
President Clinton, a longtime strong supporter of micro-credit programs said on April 5, 2000 at the White House Conference on the New Economy: "Promotion of capital formation at the grassroots level is one of the most powerful tools to attack poverty." The Fundusz Mikro program in Poland, established at President Clinton's initiative in 1994 by the Polish-American Enterprise Fund, has provided over 33,000 small loans averaging about $2,000 to over 20,000 entrepreneurs.
BIZPRO: BIZPRO is aimed at improving business management skills, competitiveness and productivity; enhancing the policy environment for small business growth; and increasing access to financial services for small businesses. Over the past five years, U.S. assistance for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) has resulted in the development of fifteen business service centers and three business incubators throughout Ukraine to transfer skills and information on operating a business in a market economy, reaching over 30,000 SME clients in Ukraine, over 35% of whom were women.
BIZPRO will focus on the broader business service industry, including business centers, trade and professional associations, consultants, research and information services, and financial services. The BIZPRO program will provide support for policy and regulatory reform, including work with regional and local level officials and business associations to improve the environment for SMEs in Ukraine. BIZPRO will also focus on the expansion of micro-finance options through non-government finance organizations. This work will build on U.S. assistance programs that have supported the development of 11 model credit unions in Ukraine.
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