The USAID Economic Development, Governance, and Enterprise Growth (EDGE) Project works in all twelve Europe and Eurasia (E&E) countries supporting inclusive, resilient, and sustainable economic growth. The EDGE Project, led by International Development Group Advisory Services (IDG), is a model of locally led development and of utilization of local personnel and local organizations.
The EDGE project has three intermediate results to advance sustainable economic development. The first intermediate result (IR 1) of the EDGE project is to improve the business environment and reduce barriers to trade. The second intermediate result (IR 2) promotes financial sector stability and increased access to finance. EDGE’s third intermediate result (IR 3) aims to improve competitiveness through value chains and trade promotion. In addition, a cross-cutting intermediate results is to counter malign influences, corruption, and violent extremism. Economic development activities that have participation in at least two countries are implemented through EDGE’s “Core Component.” A flexible “Buy-In Component” is utilized by Individual Missions, other USAID Operating Units, and other donors. In the past year, EDGE has supported six buy-in projects that support local initiatives that advance EDGE goals.
Locally Led Development
USAID Missions and EDGE Project staff work to ensure that all Project activities reflect the principles of locally led development. The team engages with local counterparts to co-design activities to ensure local buy-in for activities and to make sure that activities are addressing assistance needs identified by local counterparts. The team also implements all activities in close coordination and collaboration with local counterparts. See box below for an illustration.
Local Capacity Building
All EDGE activities aim to build capacity of local organizations and local systems so that they can support growth, create jobs through productive enterprise, and improve governance in the region. 5,406 beneficiaries participated in EDGE activities over the last year. The following list gives examples of capacity built through EDGE activities:
- EDGE supported the establishment of a Joint Border Crossing Point between North Macedonia and Albania and provided a grant to the Customs Administration of North Macedonia to purchase equipment and tools for increasing the efficiency of border controls. This is one achievement in its support for implementation of trade integration and facilitation activities in the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA). EDGE organized a meeting with 70 representatives of local economic institutions to discuss an agenda to facilitate and grow trade.
- EDGE’s grants under contract mechanism also provides local opportunities to advance EDGE’S objectives, such as the project “Increasing Competitiveness through Strengthening Fruit and Vegetable Value Chains” in Macedonia and Kosovo. A grant was awarded to Integrated Quality Systems (IQS), which partnered with the Association of Fruits and Vegetable Processors of Kosovo to survey opportunities for improved market linkages and technology transfer and offer trainings in Albanian and English on how to optimize production quality and safety. The project also carried out a GAP assessment of infrastructure for 41 companies, offered training on procedure and standards for 40 companies, and resulted in 13 companies completing certification audits.
- A grant was issued to AHK Azerbaijan with partners in Georgia, Belarus, and Ukraine to conduct the project “Joining forces to make SMEs stronger: Diversification and innovation through partnership” which aimed to boost competitiveness of SMEs in those countries and promote new business connections with domestic suppliers with German international investors with specific interest in promoting female entrepreneurship. This included an SME Development Forum and eight tourism companies’ participation in ITB Berlin, which reached 65,700 users and offered networking to potential partners and clients.
Utilization of Local Organizations and Personnel
Wherever local talent exists, EDGE utilizes local personnel and local organization to provide assistance. All twelve full-time EDGE employees are local residents in the countries where EDGE has offices – North Macedonia, Armenia, Moldova, and Albania. Of 74 consultants, 58 are local and 16 are international. EDGE uses 8 local subcontractors and has given Grants Under Contract (GUCs) to 15 grantee organizations.