Social Dialogue Magazine
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U.A.Shafiyev, Associate, senior lecturer of chair of sociology of faculty, Social sciences and psychology, Baku State University

Self-employment program as a socially- oriented project in the development of human resources

One of the main functions of each state is to organize the social protection of the population, to ensure fair distribution of material benefits, to focus on the social orientation of the domestic policy and to improve the welfare of the citizens. The new challenges that emerged in Azerbaijan's economy after 2015 have led to the reconsideration of employment policies. The program is aimed at vulnerable families, covering the entire country.The main goals of the self- employment program of the Azerbaijani state are to achieve gradual transition from the TSA to social rehabilitation, including the strengthening of social security of vulnerable families, replacement of dependence from government on self-provision, income sustainability and entrepreneurship development.One of the supportive projects for self-employee program is Baku International School’s student Kim Wan’s project “Bee My Work”.

“Bee My Work” was designed to simultaneously help the environment and Internally Displaced Persons/refugees by providing a sustainable livelihood to them through beekeeping work in both urban and rural areas. It aims to provide them with the ability to live independent lives in their place of refuge, which will eventually leads to self-reliance. Beekeeping provides employment, income, economic security, and it demands relatively small amounts of investment.The progress was immense. All 30 bee hives were built to perfection, and each and every one of them harbored its own bee colony; each participant had their own thriving bee colonies.The Bee My Work project was widely recognized in terms of its impactful contribution to the Azerbaijani society.

Self-employment is an excellent example which could be applied in many countries. As a result people become more independent. The self-employment program has a great future and we will take additional steps to implement this program. This is an important initiative to eliminate unemployment. At the same time, the number of targeted social assistance will not increase, but decrease. Those who receive this help will now be provided It is known that targeted social assistance is the financial support provided to the vulnerable groups of the population. It is part of the government's policy to improve the social conditions of vulnerable families. However, giving a continual form of social assistance in this way creates a passive mood in people. That's why the government has taken serious steps to change policy in this area in recent years. These steps envisage the replacement of passive measures in the country with more active measures. As part of the self- employment program, which provides access to low-income families from low-income families in 2017, 1172 households in 76 cities and regions have succeeded in building their households. This experience has further strengthened the active direction based on the employment-oriented social protection of vulnerable families by the state with the means necessary for business. The main goals of the self- employment program of the Azerbaijani state are to achieve gradual transition from the TSA (targeted social assistance) to social rehabilitation, including the strengthening of social security of vulnerable families, replacement of dependence from government on self- provision, income sustainability and entrepreneurship development.

Today, globally, the social state, the social well-being of the state, has become a human tendency. The concept of social state has begun to find a fuller expression in the social and political theory to describe modern-day democratic state. This is also fully understood. One of the main functions of each state is to organize the social protection of the population, to ensure fair distribution of material benefits, to focus on the social orientation of the domestic policy and to improve the welfare of the citizens. Exactly for this aim, many developed or developing countries set as a goal establishing a social welfare state, which is a high level of social security, and has established it in its constitution and laws. The state of Azerbaijan, in the way of legal and democratic development, cares about the welfare of the people and every citizen, its social protection and decent living standards, and carries out cardinal steps towards the establishment of a social state, which is the sole provider of human dignity. The President of Azerbaijan proclaims that a citizen of Azerbaijan, caring and attentive attitude to the citizens stands at the center of state policy and aims to assume that our country will be among the developed countries of the world by 2020. The "Azerbaijan 2020: Vision to Future" Development Concept, approved by Presidential Decree dated December 29, 2012, has been developed for this purpose. It is known that rapid, dynamic development of Azerbaijan since 2003 has brought our country to a great extent in the CIS and Eastern Europe for a number of socio-economic indicators.

According to the United Nations Development Program's Human Development Report 2010, the country has moved to the "High Human Development" group of countries included in the "upper middle income" group of countries for the overall national income classification per capita of the World Bank. Today, several international organizations emphasize the desire to spread innovative social services and technologies in Azerbaijan as well as in other countries. This, of course, is proud of us. Our country is now recognized globally as a country of innovative social service ideas and humanist values.

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Mr. İlham Aliyev, stated in 2013 that Azerbaijan is a social state and stated that ... I have repeatedly stated that and I state it again that the Azerbaijani state is a social state. Azerbaijani citizen is at the center of our policy. "It should be noted that the specific weight of social expenditures in 2018 budget expenditures confirms this. 7 billion 656.3 million mantas from the state budget shall be spend on social expenditures, which is 36.6% of the state budget expenditures and 71.1% of current expenditures.

One of the main directions of social policy in Azerbaijan is provision of employment of the population, further improvement of living standards, and elimination of dependence of citizens on targeted social assistance. The state pays special attention to strengthening population, focusing on their involvement to active work, ensuring that their employment is provided and thereby maintaining a healthy position. In this regard Decree of April 7, 2016 "On Additional Measures to Ensure the Self-Employment of the Population” was adopted. The decree establishes a qualitatively new stage in the employment policy, helps unemployed and job seekers to create family businesses, to develop small and medium-sized businesses, increase their incomes through the realization of their labor potential.

As a continuation of this decree, 35 million manat of the 89 million manat allocated for the Unemployment Insurance Fund's budget were directed to self- employment. At the initiative of the head of the state, the “ABAD”, established under the "Asan Service" brand, creates favorable conditions for the employment of young people, housewives and disabled people.

At the meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers dedicated to the socioeconomic development of the country in 2017 and the forthcoming tasks, the head of state stressed the importance of self-employment: "The successful implementation of the self-employment program we are launching recently is also expected. For this purpose, 35 million manat is envisaged and this will be a great support for about 7,000 families. The self-employment program has a great future and we will take additional steps to implement this program. This is an important initiative to eliminate unemployment. At the same time, the number of targeted social assistance will not increase, but decrease. Those who receive this help will now be provided It is known that targeted social assistance is the financial support provided to the vulnerable groups of the population. It is part of the government's policy to improve the social conditions of vulnerable families. However, giving a continual form of social assistance in this way creates a passive mood in people. That's why the government has taken serious steps to change policy in this area in recent years. These steps envisage the replacement of passive measures in the country with more active measures. As part of the self-employment program, which provides access to low-income families from low-income families in 2017, 1172 households in 76 cities and regions have succeeded in building their households. This experience has further strengthened the active direction based on the employment-oriented social protection of vulnerable families by the state with the means necessary for business. "

As we know, the process of improving direct social assistance mechanisms in Azerbaijan began in the early 2000s. The State Program on Poverty Reduction and Economic Development of the Republic of Azerbaijan for 2003-2005, approved on February 20, 2003, defined the commitment to establish targeted social assistance (TSA) system. It should be noted that the state program also included the creation of self-employment opportunities in rural areas. Since 2005, the adoption of the Law on Targeted State Social Assistance has been possible since 2006. In accordance with the legislation, families whose the average monthly earnings per family members are lower than their need have been given right to use it.

The TSA program, along with the formation of negative habits in the society for the long-term, has weakened the activity of increasing the inclusion of the economy. The TSA is not only a viable mechanism for social protection of the population, but also a direct proportion of the economy's dynamics, which ultimately leads to the wider extent of the negative impacts of economic fluctuations. One of the shortcomings identified during the previous years during the implementation of the TSF program is poor coverage. In spite of the fact that in remote areas, where there is a harder living environment, the low level of education and awareness, the complexity of the required procedures, and the fact that the actual poor citizen suffers from hopelessness syndrome after several attempts prevent a significant group from utilizing TSA capabilities. The above mentioned factors have once again confirmed the fact that the TSA program does not have a sustainable and quality mechanism to strengthen social welfare. Therefore, as in the rest of the world in Azerbaijan, there was a necessity to use other alternative mechanisms along with the TSA to promote sustainable social welfare. Measures to support self- employment have also been consistently implemented in order to strengthen the social security of the country along with the TSA. For this purpose, the development of human capital and adaptation to the labor market requirements, improving the quality of labor market, measures to support the development of entrepreneurship skills of small and medium-sized businesses, support for startups and programs aimed at enhancing the financial support of entrepreneurship entities, the organization of business incubators, etc.) and development issues can be especially emphasized. For this purpose, over the years, many programs targeting different social groups have been implemented, using local and foreign resources. Due to such factors as poor liberalization of the economic environment in the post-soviet period, widespread monopoly, and the development of civil business, capital has been concentrated in a number of groups and individuals, which has weakened the financial support of individual entrepreneurship in the country.

According to the State Statistical Committee of Azerbaijan, by the end of 2016 the number of economically active population in Azerbaijan was 5012.7 thousand persons, of which 4759.9 thousand were employed. According to the Committee, 31.8% of the employed population or 1514.3 thousand were employed in the reporting period. Thus, we can say that in 2016, 68.8 of the employed population belong to the self-employed population group. In the same year, the number of unemployed people was 252,800. This is 5% of the economically active population. It should be noted that according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), unemployment in Azerbaijan was 6% in 2016.

One of the sectors in Azerbaijan's economy with the highest monthly average wage is mining, mainly based on oil and gas production. The share of this sector in the country's economy is 27.5%, while its share in employment is 0.8%. As you can see, employment in the country is poorly diversified, which further deepens inequality in income.

Thus, monthly income per capita in 2016 amounted to 257.8 manat, only 13.1 percent of which was created in the agricultural sector, providing employment of 36.3 percent of the population. This is due to the lack of income in the sector and the low quality of employment. Or 25.9% of monthly income per capita is formed from entrepreneurial activity and self-employment income. 68.8% of the employed population is included in this group. The new challenges that emerged in Azerbaijan's economy after 2015 have led to the reconsideration of employment policies. The program is aimed at vulnerable families, covering the entire country.

The main goals of the self-employment program of the Azerbaijani state are to achieve gradual transition from the TSA (targeted social assistance) to social rehabilitation, including the strengthening of social security of vulnerable families, replacement of dependence from government on self-provision, income sustainability and entrepreneurship development. The self-employment system has already become a target of social protection in the country aimed creating small entrepreneurship. First of all, it should be noted that there are prominent elements that distinguish the public self-employment program that has been launched in Azerbaijan since 2016 with international practice. Thus, for the first time in the world, direct financial assistance to the family (not on cash) is provided through public funds within the framework of self-employment program. The family is provided with production or service equipment in accordance with the business plan presented. In addition, analysis of similar practices of foreign countries shows that similar programs often contain measures to be considered for specific regions. However, the program implemented in Azerbaijan covers the whole territory of the country.

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It should be noted that the joint mission of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) visited Azerbaijan and discussed the work done in the country for the implementation of the National Employment Strategy for 2016-2030 and the self- employment program For this program has been trained the trainer in accordance with relevant ILO standards for most regions and cities of the country. It should be noted that two-month training courses were organized in 2017 for those involved in the "Self- employment Program". Trainers, trained with the participation of the International Labor Organization's chief trainer, trained them the knowledge and skills needed to manage and develop their farm. Them who successfully completed courses the trainings and that business plans prepared during the training which highly appreciated to build family businesses were given actives.

One of the supportive projects for self-employee program is Baku International School’s student Kim Wan’s project “Bee My Work”. “Bee My Work” was designed to simultaneously help the environment and Internally Displaced Persons/refugees by providing a sustainable livelihood to them through beekeeping work in both urban and rural areas. It aims to provide them with the ability to live independent lives in their place of refuge, which will eventually leads to self-reliance. Beekeeping provides employment, income, economic security, and it demands relatively small amounts of investment. To take up the last point, it involves very little capital investment, especially after the initial setup equipment, as no complex technologies are needed. It is especially suitable for women who need to carry out work close to their homes. The work is also flexible; the nature of beekeeping allows the beekeeper to choose how much time one can afford: a part-time involvement results in added income while a full- time engagement opens up a scalable business. Our goal is to create a system for training and supporting residents in selected refugee communities in the art, science and business of beekeeping. Furthermore, instead of taxing the environment like other agricultural processes, beekeeping benefits the environment.

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Our vision is to set up a scalable Model for expansion of the Bee My Work project to involve a wider section of displaced peoples, at the regional, then national, and eventually at an international scale by launching off of the project’s first session. With this in mind, Wan Kim, the project founder, has launched the ‘Bee My Work’ project with his club in the Khojavend City Hall, Azerbaijan where six thousand Internally Displaced Persons live. The project founder visited and contacted the the Khojavend City Hall on October of 2017. After a presentation on the project at the site, people of the village showed great interest and desire to engage in beekeeping as their sustainable means of livelihood. The instructor named Allahverdiyev Roman was selected to establish a curriculum and give lessons on relevant subjects with the book he wrote on the basics of beekeeping. In the practical lessons, all the participants learned how to make beehives to construct their own beehives and to raise honey bees.

In the meantime, GIVE members worked together to gather funds needed for the project; there was a waffle sale at Baku International school, and letters were sent to various organizations including the State Committee for Affairs of Refugees and IDPs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, UNHCR, as well numerous other Azerbaijani establishments calling for support, and as a result, GIVE was able to acquire recognition from multiple organizations that supported its cause through donations of varying amounts. In total, about 3,000 US dollars were raised and the 1st session of Bee My Work was able to take place using that money.

After mastering both the theoretical and practical lessons on basic Beekeeping, the project participants engaged in Beehive Construction Training, which started on the 20th of May and ended on the 31st of May, 2018, to lower costs and increase project scalability by enabling the participants to build their hives themselves. And finally, 30 Beehives were constructed. Then they were able to purchase queen bees to create Nuc colonies which they used to start the actual beekeeping process from June 6th that went on until August of 2018. I had the opportunity to visit the village of Khojavend to check on the progress of their Bee My Work project during the summer vacation. I was warmly greeted by the Mayor of Khojavend, Mr. Eyvaz Huseynov, himself along with amazing citizens.

The progress was immense. All 30 bee hives were built to perfection, and each and every one of them harbored its own bee colony; each participant had their own thriving bee colonies. There, I spent an immensely meaningful time volunteering. I also had the honor to interview the Mayor, the instructor and coordinator of the program, and the participants of the project.

The Mayor was thrilled with the progress of the project; he said it was a great success and he expressed his gratitude to me and my club. As he put it, BMW is truly meaningful as it provided participants with education on beekeeping as opposed to simply giving the hives to them and letting them figure things out on their own.

The IDPs in Khojavend City Hall claimed that BMW has provided a greater opportunity to them and that they were willing to continue the beekeeping work. They were also very happy with the fact that beekeeping requires minimal labor and that the women of the household could partake while taking care of domestic affairs. The instructor added that the profits will give significantly more economic strength and confidence to the participants.

The project overall has also served to bring the participants even closer together by promoting cooperation; they relied on one another when help was needed and each served a substantial role in the beekeeping process. The instructor also worked even harder to ensure that the participants got their rightful reward for their year long journey with their hives. As a result, the bee colonies were able to prosper with ample honey and thriving populations thanks to the collective effort of their keepers.

To promote the sale of the honey, the project has been broadcasted on the news section of Xezer TV, and various large supermarket chains have been contacted to grant permission to sell the products at their establishments.

This step is as vital to the project as the beekeeping process itself as it is the factor that determines the success of the program. Establishing a stable market in which the beekeepers can sell their honey in is another vital task that the Bee My Work project seeks to undertake. There have already been multiple preorder requests from SEBA(Seoul-Baku Azerbaijan-Korean Cultural Exchange Association), HOMS(Head of Mission Spouse), and others.

The second session of Bee My Work project will soon begin from the 22nd of September which will continue until September 2019. With the success of the project, there were many IDPs applicants who wanted to take part in the second session of the project. The Bee My Work project was widely recognized in terms of its impactful contribution to the Azerbaijani society. As a result, the project founder will be awarded by an Azerbaijani Minister, State Committee for Affairs of Refugees and IDPs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Mayor of Khojavend, UNHCR, and SEBA.

More than 8,000 families received targeted social assistance till self-employment program has applied. However, the implementation of self-employment programs has been started to reduce their number and to realize the ability of people to work. In parallel with targeted social assistance, self-employment programs are one of the measures that will save the state from further burdens in the future.

It should be noted that the financial aid provided by the state for self-employment is on average about 5,000 (five thousand) manats per family. State support for the establishment of family business is provided to citizens in the form of production facilities (equipment, livestock, etc.), not cash. More than 8,000 families received targeted social assistance through self-employment. However, the implementation of self-employment programs has been started to reduce their number and to realize the ability of people to work. In parallel with targeted social assistance, self-employment programs are one of the measures that will save the state from further burdens in the future.

It should be noted that the financial aid provided by the state for self-employment is on average about 5,000 (five thousand) manats per family. State support for the establishment of family business is provided to citizens in the form of production facilities (equipment, livestock, etc.), not cash.

If in 2017, the number of families receiving targeted social assistance is 132.4 thousand, it will be possible to achieve income sustainability 5% of them within their self-employment program by 2018.

The self-employment program also has significant advantages over alternative social protection measures. Thus, the program allows parallel conclusions to be achieved for a few macro goals at the same time. In general, the advantages of the self-employment program can be classified like this:

The program has a positive impact on family to reduce dependence from external influences (decisions made by state agencies, changes to TSA terms, etc.) and increased individual initiate. Thus, the income of the family, depending on the members' earnings and initiative, may increase the profitability of the business in the following years, so that there is no such opportunity in the passive defense mechanisms such as TSA. The reduction of dependency on the state and the weakening of negative habits (dependence on assistance, passive working habits, etc.) are also among the advantages of the self-employment program. There is no limit for building a social welfare state. Therefore, other measures aimed at strengthening social incentives should be continued.

References

1. Presidential Decree, "Order of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan on additional measures to ensure the self-employment of the population", 07.04.2016
2. "Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan on Targeted State Social Assistance", Baku, October 10, 2005, No 1039-IIQ
3. IMF, "World Economic Outlook - October 2017", p.66 PavilionDownloads/text.pdf
4. Decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan on "Approval of the State Program on Poverty Reduction and Economic Development in the Republic of Azerbaijan for 2003-2005", Baku, February 20, 2003 No. 854
5. Ministry of Economy "Business figures in Azerbaijan", 2016 economy.gov
6. State Statistical Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan