THE WHITE HOUSE
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
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
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.