EBRD, Switzerland strengthen support for small business in Central Asia

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BISHKEK (TCA) — The Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO is increasing its support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Central Asia with a €4.5 million contribution to the work of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Small Business Initiative (SBI) in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, the EBRD Press Office said on May 10.

This strategic Initiative focuses on providing SMEs with support including loans and investments through financial institutions and risk-sharing facilities as well as direct financing. It also assists SMEs with business advice through local consultants and international experts to improve their competitiveness, innovation and growth.

The new funding from SECO through the EBRD Small Business Impact Fund (SBIF) will boost SBI activities in support of small enterprises in the two countries. The contribution agreement was signed on May 10 by Alain Pilloux, EBRD Vice President, Policy and Partnerships, and Swiss State Secretary Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch at the EBRD Headquarters in London, on the sidelines of the Bank’s Annual Meeting and Business Forum.

“SECO is one of our strongest donors and has shown a longstanding commitment to supporting the EBRD’s work with small businesses in Central Asia, including as a core donor to SME advisory activities in the Kyrgyz Republic,” said Pilloux. “We are therefore delighted to have the support of SECO for our strategic Small Business Initiative. This will have a significant impact not only on entrepreneurs in the region but also on the network of like-minded donors working together with the Bank to strengthen the SME sector.”

Ms Ineichen-Fleisch said: “SMEs are the backbone of every prosperous economy and key to job creation as well as sustainable economic development. The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO is proud to support the EBRD’s strategic Initiative and to be among the first donors to make a contribution to the Small Business Impact Fund.”

SECO’s priorities in the EBRD region include infrastructure, enterprise and financial sector development, climate change mitigation through energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives, and the sustainable use of natural resources.

Priority regions for Swiss financial assistance include the early transition countries, the southern and eastern Mediterranean region, the Western Balkans and Ukraine. In recent years, SECO has provided substantial support for municipal and environmental projects in Central Asia.

Sergey Kwan

TCA