Simplified Regulations Boost Exports for Armenian Women Entrepreneurs
Comfortable with her success in the domestic market, Vera Zakaryan hoped to export her dried fruit far beyond Armenia’s Aragatsotn region. Fortunately, recent changes to the country’s export regulations have streamlined procedures and reduced transaction times, placing such goals within reach.
The reforms have been adopted by the Armenian government with help from IFC’s Armenia Investment Climate Reform Project. Zakaryan, a schoolteacher turned business owner from the village of Oshakan, is now able to explore new markets in Europe and the US – and she’s not alone.
“Women in our community are encouraged by the changes taking place in the business environment in Armenia,” said Zakaryan, who recently formed a support network to help women living in remote regions of Armenia start their own businesses.
“Now it is much easier to register a new business, obtain a certificate of origin to export products and file accounting reports and taxes electronically, which saves time and effort and limits the need for face-to-face communication with state agencies that many women were avoiding due to cultural perceptions.”
According to a new World Bank- IFC report Women, Business and the Law 2014, Armenia is among 15 countries with no legal differences between women and men.
Yet these countries still have challenges. A needs assessment conducted by the Armenia Investment Climate Reform Project found that women entrepreneurs view dealing with state agencies – i.e. obtaining licenses, paying taxes, and facing inspections – as the biggest obstacle to success.
The Armenia Investment Climate Reform Project focuses on creating simple, efficient regulations to reduce the cost of doing business to boost the private sector.Along with reducing administrative penalties and the number of days needed for transactions and export valuations, the project has conductedcapacity-building trainings and mentorship for women business owners.
“The new approach drastically reduces the time spent on accounting procedures, allowing me to concentrate on other aspects of the business,” said Zakaryan, who recently participated, with 50 businesswomen, in a training organized by the Armenian Young Women Association.
Now the Armenia Investment Climate Reform Project is planning to introduce legislative improvements to export and import procedures, further easing the way for women entrepreneurs like Zakaryan to ship their products to foreign markets.The Armenia Investment Climate Reform Project is supported with funds from the Ministry of Finance of Austria and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.