Eurasia Foundation Civil Society and Community Development Program
In Belarus, the Civil Society and Community Development Program financed and supported by USAID is implemented by Eurasia Foundation (EF).
Since 2006, USAID has partnered with Eurasia Foundation to promote citizen participation, strengthen civil society and community engagement and facilitate business development.
The Civil Society and Community Development Program financed by USAID includes three major projects:
- Belarus Legal Clinics Support Project
- Empowering Local Communities through Euroregions Project
- Business and Economic Development Project.
In Belarus projects’ activities are directly implemented by the New Eurasia Establishment.
The Belarus Legal Clinics Support Project enhances civic engagement by expanding the network of university-based legal clinics. The project provides law students with an opportunity to apply their knowledge and develop practical skills under mentorship of professional lawyers and professors. Legal aid services are provided by the clinics free of charge, making professional assistance available to most vulnerable citizens. Fifteen legal clinics based in universities throughout the country participate in the program. These activities create an environment for the professional development of law students and improve access of disadvantaged groups to quality legal services.
In 2011, USAID supported further institutional development of the legal clinics: organizational assistance was provided to two newly established clinics; and four clinics received funding for opening new specialized sections. Legal aid services were delivered to more than 2,500 representatives of vulnerable groups at the clinics supported by USAID. Over 450 students participated in the project’s educational and capacity building activities, such as study tours. Ten clinicians from six Belarusian legal clinics took part in the Worldwide Conference of the Global Alliance for Justice Education that brought over 250 representatives of the global clinical movement from all over the world to Valencia, Spain. USAID will continue to support the development of the Belarusian university-based legal clinics to become integrated members of the European clinical community.
Empowering Local Communities through Euroregions Project assists local communities to solve local social and economic development problems through civic initiatives, cross-border cooperation and adoption of best practices from neighboring democratic societies. The project uses Euroregions, a transnational cooperation structure between two or more European territories to help Belarus and its neighbors achieve shared goals and develop local solutions for global challenges. The project resulted in several innovative initiatives of cross-border civic cooperation, a series of advocacy events and strengthened partnerships between bordering local communities of Belarus, Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania.
The Business and Economic Development Project increases the capacity of Belarusian business professionals, educators, practitioners, small and medium business support organizations, and the public, by providing high-quality economic and business education, information, technologies and knowledge consistent with international standards. The program incorporated a series of projects tailored to meet the development needs of different professional groups, business professionals, educators, and local communities.
USAID support strengthened the institutional capacity of 20 entrepreneurship support centers to provide business training and consultations to small and medium businesses and entrepreneurs. Increased capacity allowed the centers to train over 600 entrepreneurs and provide over 500 individual consultations. Trainings and consultations were primarily aimed at promoting innovative business practices and improving access of entrepreneurs to loans. With USAID assistance, over 750 entrepreneurs were consulted on different aspects of borrowing and at least 250 applied for loans (with at least a 30% success rate). Over a half of the project’s beneficiaries improved their business applying management knowledge and skills obtained at the trainings and other events. In 2011, more than 500 entrepreneurs participated in activities of enhanced professional networks including conferences, innovation fairs and roundtable discussions.
USAID supported further improvement of the Belarusian business and economic education to better meet the needs of private business and entrepreneurs. With USAID support better access to modern business knowledge was provided through 10 online business courses that were developed and introduced by one of the leading Belarusian business schools. More than 100 distance learning users were enrolled and trained through these courses.