Bringing international best practice to Azerbaijani small enterprises

The EBRD Business Advisory Service has helped a small Azerbaijani business improve management practices, diversify and obtain ISO certifications.

Aslan Bashir‑Zade is a resourceful Azerbaijani entrepreneur who understands the importance of constantly improving and diversifying one’s business to make it truly competitive. Local micro, small and medium‑sized enterprises (MSMEs) like his are a growing resource to advance Azerbaijan’s economy.

Mr Bashir‑Zade, an engineer‑geologist specialised in logistics and procurement, started his business in 2001 by opening a workshop that produced well perforation. Soon he was able to widen the spectrum of his operations by adding such services as manufacturing and installing steel structures, and contributing to power stations.

This attracted business from a number of international companies, including Siemens and Baker Hughes. As the volume of work increased, Mr Bashir-Zade founded Baku Metal Service (BMS), an enterprise that today counts 50 full‑time employees and several lines of business.

Strengthening business management

In 2009, the EBRD Business Advisory Services (BAS) contacted Mr Bashir‑Zade offering assistance to strengthen the company’s management system and guarantee quality standards to both clients and employees.

Thanks to the financial support of Austria, the BAS team assisted him in finding a dynamic local consultancy company, Quality Veritas, that helped BMS introduce three ISOs, for quality, environmental, and health and safety management systems.

By focusing on improving safety procedures and processes, data collection and analysis, records maintenance and the standardization of client management procedures, the consultancy helped to clarify and review the overall management system, and in 2010 BMS was certified by Moody International (UK).

This has made a significant impact on the business profile of BMS. For as Mr Bashir‑Zade states:“Whenever I start negotiations with current or potential clients, ISO certifications and the associated improvements always bring in a positive response”.