11.02.2009 Small Grant Programme successfully completed in Bystrinsky district of Kamchatka
December 2008 marked the completion of the Small Grant Programme of the SME Support Fund ’Sodruzhestvo’, realized within the framework of the UNDP/GEF Project ’Kamchatka biodiversity conservation’ and sponsored by the Canadian International Development Agency.
Between 2004 and 2008, 21 grant competitions were held, and the advisory council received 144 grant requests in the total amount of 11,738,750 rubles. Grant requests concerned the areas of private business development, development of local governance and formation of civil society. Upon examination by the advisory council and a committee of experts, 62 requests were satisfied for a total of 4,067,534 rubles, mostly for the formation of civil society and development of private business. Women’s participation has been especially important: more than half of the grant requests came from women, and more than half of the financed projects were realized by women, including many representatives of the indigenous minority peoples of the North.
The allocation of grants for the development of private business allowed to introduce many new types of services in the Bystrinsky district, such as ceramics and handicraft workshops, hairdressing, shoe repair and tailoring, giving employment opportunities to young indigenous women with secondary education. Grants were also used to open a digital communications store, which is a service in great demand, and a car wash.
Such successful projects helped to create new jobs for the indigenous minority peoples of the North, and one of the most significant results of the development of small business was the fact that ten people in the Bystrinsky district could officially register entrepreneurial activities. New opportunities on the services market gave self-confidence and optimism to local people. In addition, joint career development and re-training projects with local schools helped to prepare secondary school graduates for professions in demand in Kamchatka and to re-integrate local unemployed youth.
The majority (close to 90%) of grants allocated for the formation of civil society concerned biodiversity conservation projects for the Bystrinsky Natural Park. Allocated funds were used to equip the information center in the park and a study room ’Green Ranger’ where children can learn about the environment. The Natural Park authorities renovated the most popular touristic trails, and organized an environmental event with the keenest people from the neighborhood to clean local rivers.
These projects improved the park’s image and increased the tourist attractivity of the region: tourists coming in the region now have a chance to visit its best sites and learn about the flora and fauna of the Bystrinsky Natural Park. What is more, environment-oriented grant projects contributed to the strengthening of the socio-economic situation in the Bystrinsky district, as new jobs were created in the tourism industry.
Overall, the Small Grant Programme had a very positive influence on the district’s economy, and contributed to the self-actualization and sufficiency of local vulnerable social groups by providing them with a stable income and a sense of entrepreneurship. The successful implementation of the Small Grant Programme helped to reduce the pressure on biodiversity in protected areas, and to encourage local people’s involvement in regional problem-solving and in initiatives for environmental conservation.
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