Jaroslawa Johnson, President of Western NIS Enterprise Fund, gave an exclusive interview to UT on the sidelines of the International Mayors Congress
On December 5, Kyiv became the first venue for the International Mayors Congress. Key speakers of the Congress revealed to UT their vision and experience on regional policies and urban development.
The Congress must become an annual platform for sharing the best international practices with Ukrainian local and national government leaders. "School of Mayors" was the first stage of empowering Ukrainian local authorities and providing them with the expertise for effective city management. Now, the Congress can be an even more powerful instrument for Ukraine's regional governments in the light of the decentralization process around the country.
Jaroslawa Johnson, President and CEO of Western NIS Enterprise Fund which was a major organizer of the conference, joined UT to talk about the Fund's activities in Ukraine and the latest trends in local development.
Western NIS has over 20 years of experience of investing in small and medium businesses in Ukraine. Moreover, it is engaged in promoting a series of technical assistance: fostering local economic development, investing in social entrepreneurship and financing innovative programs. Mrs. Johnson is proud of the fact that for the past few years the Fund assisted in launching Ukraine's electronic public procurement system Prozorro which saves billions of hryvnias from the state budget per year.
Jaroslawa Johnson explains that the citizens from the communities must take action for urban development as well as take initiative for local economic growth. She is highly persuasive in the fact that without the national government's support, communities can be a driving force for the decentralization reform to progress. So far, 184 local communities have already been formed within the decentralization process.
"Decentralization is progressing as fast as it can progress. It means the national government must give some power to local authorities which they didn't have before, and local authorities have to accept those powers, in particular, about a financial part. A local government has an ability to use those funds for the benefit of its residents", Jaroslawa Johnson says.