USAID and Ecolog International Launch Support Fund for Women and Youth Entrepreneurs

Yesterday in Tetovo, the USAID Small Business Expansion Project together with Ecolog, an international integrated services company, launched the Support Fund for Women and Youth Entrepreneurs.

Mr. Lazim Destani, Chairman of Ecolog’s Advisory Board, gave the welcoming address during the event. “First, I would like to thank Ambassador Wohlers for his presence today which is reinforcing the long term commitment of the US Government in supporting the economic growth and improving the business environment here in Macedonia. The initiative for supporting the development of small businesses is close to our corporate philosophy and we welcomed this idea for supporting a very special group of the community such as women and youth. We are very happy to start the partnership with USAID and together support women and young entrepreneurs in implementing and growing their businesses.”

“We are very pleased to have Ecolog as our partner in this project.  Because this progressive company understands that larger enterprises can and should give back to their communities, Ecolog matched USAID’s investment in this fund.  By designing and implementing a corporate social responsibility strategy that supports local businesses, Ecolog – and other large companies like it – can shape the economic landscape and provide a better quality of life for those around them. “  said U.S. Ambassador Paul Wohlers.

He added, “I would like to thank the management of Ecolog for the corporate social responsibility strategy that they have designed, and I strongly urge other businesses to follow their lead.  It’s very simple.  An investment in the Support Fund for Women and Youth-run Businesses is an investment in the people of Polog, and benefits all the people of this region. I look forward in the future to hearing about the successes this fund will no doubt bring, and the change it will make possible in the lives of women and youth in this area.”

The Support Fund for Women and Youth Entrepreneurs is a joint activity between the the Women in Business initiative of the USAID Small Business Expansion Project and the Corporate Social Responsibility Program of Ecolog’s subsidiary in Macedonia. The partnership between USAID and Ecolog will consist of both parties allocating an initial amount of $30 000 for co-financing of Polog-based small businesses run by women; initially identifying and supporting 20 women-run businesses; and promoting the Fund as a good practice that should be adopted by other leading companies in Polog in the future.

Research indicates that societies with greater gender equality experience faster economic growth.  Both the public and private sectors benefit when women are able to fully participate in the economy.   Over the past year the USAID Small Business Expansion Project has helped a number of women entrepreneurs in the Polog region by awarding grants to women-led businesses with a high potential for growth.  With USAID support, grantees doubled their production capacities and collectively created 33 new jobs in the process. The Support Fund will extend these efforts to include young entrepreneurs as it continues to boost local economies and transform lives.

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Ecolog has extensively integrated its Corporate Responsibility activities into its overall business strategy over the last decade. “We believe that CSR is the act of an organization ensuring it is sustainable and responsible. We strive to be a leader in corporate citizenship and sustainable development, caring for our employees and customers, seeking to enrich the quality of life for the communities in which we operate, and serve as good stewards of society and the environment.” said Lumri Bexheti, VP for Business Development of Ecolog International.

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Ecolog’s CSR projects span from rebuilding schools to donating waste-management trucks to municipalities, initiating education programs with universities, supporting culture activities to investing in youth development through sports. Ecolog is also supporting the work of humanitarian organizations in the regions they have operations.