Swiss government, EU and EBRD start Small Business Initiative in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan

BISHKEK (TCA) — The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) on September 22 held the First Stakeholder meeting of the Small Business Initiative (SBI) in Bishkek to mark the successful start of the program to support local SMEs in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Through this initiative, the EBRD is ramping up its activities with small and medium-sized enterprises to help them grow and make them more competitive. The event gathered representatives of government, business associations, banks and international partners to launch the initiative and discuss next steps, the Embassy of Switzerland in the Kyrgyz Republic said in a press release.

This new initiative is made possible by a contribution from the Swiss Government through the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) of EUR 4.5 million to the EBRD’s Small Business Impact Fund alongside EUR 1.5 million from the EBRD Shareholders Special Fund to support activities in both the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan. The Bank’s work with SMEs is also supported by the European Union’s Investment Facility for Central Asia.

Veronique Hulmann, Ambassador of Switzerland to the Kyrgyz Republic, said: “Supporting the Kyrgyz Government and the Kyrgyz partners in their efforts to develop the private sector and to create jobs has been – and remains – a priority of the Kyrgyz-Swiss cooperation program. Switzerland has been supporting several programs to improve the business climate by reducing the administrative burden for SMEs and to improve the performance of SMEs through advisory services.”

“A vibrant SME sector is a vital ingredient for a healthy market economy. Supporting SMEs is one of the Bank’s key strategic priorities for the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan and an area where the Bank already has a successful track record. But we know we can do even more to foster entrepreneurship. That’s why we are grateful for the generous support from our donors and the invaluable feedback from our partners to enable us to launch our new Small Business Initiative in the region,” said Neil McKain, EBRD Regional Director for Central Asia.

Charlotte Adriaen, Head of Cooperation Section of the Delegation of the European Union to the Kyrgyz Republic, said: “The European Union is proud to support small business companies and entrepreneurs in Kyrgyzstan as it contributes to improvement of social and economic situation in the country. I would like to provide another example of our support to entrepreneurship and business provided through KyrSEFF programme. Since 2013 we have enabled more than 500 households and companies to save over 111.000 MWh/year and reduce CO2 emissions by 32.77 tons. I am sure that a new initiative will prove to be successful too.”

Under the SBI, the EBRD is implementing three core sets of activities in the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan to bolster SME growth and competitiveness: investment, advice, and policy dialogue. So far this year, initial results on the investment side include the signing of an innovative “Women in Business” programme with two partner banks in Tajikistan, enhancement of the EBRD’s Risk-Sharing Facility (RSF) to finance SMEs together with partner banks, and new investments with three SMEs. On advice, highlights include 97 advisory projects for SMEs and support to the local consulting industry in each country to improve their services to small businesses. On the policy side, the EBRD is supporting the Investment Councils in both countries and is stepping up support for the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic’s “Taza Koom” initiative.

“Under our new Small Business Initiative, we are now integrating our activities for SMEs to provide more effective, client-focused support. We are also innovating new improved services and products so we can better meet the needs of the SME sector. By providing small businesses with access to finance and know-how, alongside targeted policy actions to improve the business environment, the EBRD is dedicated to helping small businesses reach their full potential,” said Neil Taylor, EBRD Associate Director, SME Finance and Development.

Each year, the Bank invests over €1.2bn in SMEs reaching over 200,000 small businesses. To date, the EBRD has invested EUR 473 million in the private sector in the Kyrgyz Republic and EUR 300 million in Tajikistan. The Bank has also implemented 1128 advisory projects in the Kyrgyz Republic and 656 in Tajikistan to enable SMEs to access know how and become more competitive.

The Government of Switzerland provides assistance for the development of the Kyrgyz Republic. The overall objective of its cooperation program is to promote peace and social cohesion as well as responsive and inclusive institutions and a sustainable development to improve the well-being of the population. Over the last 25 years Switzerland has granted more than CHF 360 million to Kyrgyzstan to support the transition process.

Sergey Kwan


Sergey Kwan has worked for The Times of Central Asia as a journalist, translator and editor since its foundation in March 1999. Prior to this, from 1996-1997, he worked as a translator at The Kyrgyzstan Chronicle, and from 1997-1999, as a translator at The Central Asian Post.
Kwan studied at the Bishkek Polytechnic Institute from 1990-1994, before completing his training in print journalism in Denmark.

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