The Business Support Organization (BSO) School Program is being implemented from March 2020 through December 2022 with funding under USAID’s Competitive Economy Program (CEP) and has two components.
The focus of the first component, which is called “Development through Cooperation” and is being implemented by CIVITTA, is on involving SMEs in local economic management, establishing dialog, and getting government and business to join forces for local economic development (LED).
The second component, which is called “On guard for business interests” and is being implemented by East Europe Foundation, aims at monitoring the activities of local governments and increasing transparency in the interactions between local business and local government.
The objective of the second component is to build the capacity of business support organizations at the local level, for these organizations to become stronger, more effective actors in defending SME interests. The program is national in scope. Organizations and initiative groups were selected within the School. While participating in the program, they are familiarized with contemporary instruments for improving the business environment and are eligible for grants to carry out their own initiatives.
By participating in the program, partner organizations:
The program focuses on four areas:
Education and training
30 selected partner organizations and initiative groups participated in a six-month training program that consisted of five modules. These included: strategic planning and development, basics of leadership and fundraising, local economic development and the roles of local government agencies and business, public-private sector dialog, communication with local government agencies, and how local business can monitor the effectiveness of government work. Participants also learned about e-democracy and open data instruments for local regulatory and economic policy.
“On guard for business interests,” an online course
Following the training program, an online course called “On guard for business interests” was developed and made available on the Zrozumilo! online education platform. It consolidates the learning and materials accumulated during the training and makes them accessible to anyone who is interested. This is intended to help individuals master the tools to transform themselves into powerful actors in local development on the ground, to better understand the interests of SMEs, to figure out how to engage local entrepreneurs in economic management, to establish a dialog between local government and business, and to learn about instruments for improving the local business environment.
Putting together grant initiatives and help implementing them
In conjunction with the USAID Competitive Economy Program (CEP), the Foundation’s team has been helping select organizations to develop their own initiatives and introduce small grants. The aim is to develop project ideas, provide mentorship in preparing grant proposals, followed by ongoing support, and monitor the performance of grant recipients. These grant initiatives are supposed to be aimed at improving the business environment at the local level, and to support and defend SME rights and interests.
This activity aims to improve interactions between local government agencies, business and the NGO sector by cooperating in regulatory efforts. At least seven communities are participating in this initiative and working to improve regulatory policy at the local level. The Foundation provides comprehensive expert support to improve existing regulations and develop new, progressive ones to make doing business easier and thus foster local economic development.