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In Macedonia, applause as a project leaves behind jobs, exports, legacies

Five hundred Macedonian companies are today better able to compete in global markets—generating thousands of jobs and millions of new exports—thanks to the recently completed USAID Macedonia Competitiveness Project (MCP). The five-year project, managed by CARANA, helped small and medium firms access external finance, identify new buyers, expand operations, and train and hire new, qualified employees.Speakers at the event included, from left, MCP Director Jasminka Varnalieva, Macedonia's Minister of Economy Valon Saracini, U.S. Ambassador Paul Wohlers and CARANA's CEO Eduardo Tugendhat.Speakers at the event included, from left, MCP Director Jasminka Varnalieva, Macedonia's Minister of Economy Valon Saracini, U.S. Ambassador Paul Wohlers and CARANA's CEO Eduardo Tugendhat.

On May 23, many from those companies gathered in Skopje to celebrate the project’s successes.

By expanding operations, Macedonian businesses created over 3,300 new jobs and over $88 million of new exports. To pay for improvements and expansions, MCP helped companies obtain over $80 million in external financing, leveraging over $145 million for new technology and business development. And the project laid the groundwork for Macedonia to become a sourcing destination for apparel, automotive components and tool manufacturing by preparing producers in those sectors to exhibit at leading European tradeshows. 

“These achievements are all the more noteworthy given that the project’s life coincided with one of the biggest economic crises in modern history,” Ambassador Wohlers told the crowd. “I applaud all of you for your courage, determination, dedication, and persistence.”

MCP staff gathered to say goodbye.MCP staff gathered to say goodbye.Wohlers added that the project has generated two legacies: My Career, a wildly popular internship and job-matching program, and the Innovation Center, which supports the country’s pioneering entrepreneurs to make their ideas reality.

“Although our support has come to an end, the work and the impact of the USAID Competitiveness Project does not stop here,” he said. “The ultimate aim of development programs is to leave behind locally-managed organizations that will carry on their missions and continue to service the needs of the market.”

CARANA was recently awarded a new project in Macedonia that builds upon lessons and models developed under MCP. Read more about it.

Published June 2012