KredAqro, a microfinance institution founded by ACDI/VOCA to provide financial services to rural entrepreneurs in Azerbaijan, recently co-sponsored a conference with the Zardabi Press Center to aid and inform journalists covering financial institutions and improve the quality of the country’s financial reporting.
“Despite the complexity and importance of banking issues, bank and credit matters are amongst the themes neglected by newspapers, magazines and media agencies,” said Rahim Huseynzade, the chairman of the Zardabi Press Center.
Azerbaijan faces major hurdles in the continuing transition from a command to a market economy. The economy is largely dependent on the oil industry, which has seen steady growth and modernization in the last several years, but which employs a mere 3 percent of the workforce. Despite oil’s value as a commodity, it is the agricultural sector, which accounts for 40 percent of total employment that offers the best opportunity to improve everyday life in Azerbaijan. This will require restructuring of agriculture and financial support to farmers, including many smallholders.
KredAqro serves over 21,000 borrowers through 20 outlets in most parts of the country. It and other microfinance institutions will play a key role in the development of the agriculture sector. Healthy media coverage of emerging financial institutions that support agriculture and other rural enterprises will help the public understand and make use of their services.
The recent roundtable brought together journalists, members of banking and microfinance institutions, scholars and specialists. The meeting shed light on bank and credit operations through information-sharing and engagement, helping the local media spot trends, report on institutions and monitor outcomes. Over 20 leading newspapers and seven information agencies were engaged with the project and articles about the event appeared in prominent websites and newspapers.