• KGS/USD = 0.01181 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00210 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09406 0.11%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01181 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00210 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09406 0.11%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01181 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00210 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09406 0.11%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01181 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00210 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09406 0.11%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01181 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00210 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09406 0.11%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01181 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00210 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09406 0.11%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01181 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00210 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09406 0.11%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01181 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00210 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09406 0.11%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%

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Kyrgyzstan to Support Female Entrepreneurship

A group of Kyrgyz parliamentary deputies have initiated amendments to the draft law "On the Protection of Entrepreneurs' Rights," which will bow be supplemented with the words "women's entrepreneurship." The amendment states that women make up half of Kyrgyzstan's population, but their contribution to the economy is far less significant. Citing IMF data, the authors of the amendment stated that female entrepreneurship can contribute up to 27% to the republic's GDP. "As experience shows, the level of income from small businesses does not exceed the officially established subsistence minimum, which, unfortunately, does not leave additional funds available for further business development. The data also shows that women entrepreneurs who have better access to assets and can make independent decisions can help reduce poverty," the bill states. Representatives of the women's forum "Kurak," who contributed to drafting the amendments, proposed introducing the term "woman entrepreneur" into the law and defining this as a legal entity wherein a woman owns at least 51% of the shares. They believe this will enable women to receive preferential financing and access state support. "Women entrepreneurs often need more time to run a business. After all, they often raise children and run a household in parallel. It is also tough for a woman to get a loan from a bank because the collateral property belongs to men. Moral support from our patriarchal society and the state is also lacking," human rights activist Ainura Sarynbayeva told The Times of Central Asia. The legislative introduction of the word "woman" and "women's entrepreneurship" will help further develop women's businesses, believes Sarynbayeva, adding that commercial banks and international development institutions are already prepared to provide preferential lending. "Today, there are no countries in Central Asia where the concept of "women's entrepreneurship" is enshrined in the law. The draft law being promoted in Kyrgyzstan is largely similar to the Azerbaijani law. The authorities there support women businessmen at the state level," said Sarynbayeva. According to the latest census, Kyrgyzstan is home to 3.3 million women - half of the country's population. However, despite various training sessions and courses, only a small percentage of Kyrgyz women participate in economic activities. Human rights activists attribute this state of affairs to the haphazard nature of government support. The average Kyrgyz businesswoman is 40-50 years old, has a secondary education, is an individual entrepreneur or manages a small or medium-sized business, and has a family and children.

U.S. Program Promotes Women Entrepreneurship in Turkmenistan

On June 8, participants in the first Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) program in Turkmenistan submitted their business proposals to a panel of experts in Ashgabat. The event marked the conclusion of the AWE program launched by the U.S. Embassy in Turkmenistan in partnership with the Union of Economists of Turkmenistan in March this year. As reported by the U.S. Embassy, the ‘graduation’ ceremony was the culmination of three months’ work, consisting of an online business course developed by Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management, weekly face-to-face sessions, and the development of a business plan. AWE is a U.S. State Department program that provides women entrepreneurs with the knowledge, networks and access required to start and grow successful businesses. The first 50 Turkmen graduates of the program now join a global community of over 25,000 AWE alumnae. Opening the event, U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Vaida Vidugiris said: “We are so pleased that this year, Turkmenistan joined more than 100 participating countries of AWE. I am especially proud that this program took place not only in Ashgabat, but also in Dashoguz, Mary, and Turkmenabat where we have our American Corners. It underscores our belief in the untapped potential of women entrepreneurs who, with the right support and resources, can transform economies, uplift communities, and inspire future generations.”    

EBRD Helps Improve Dushanbe’s Environment and Support Tajikistan’s Banking Sector

During a visit by Odile Renaud-Basso, President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to Tajikistan, on 29-30 April, the EBRD committed funds to upgrade Dushanbe's  infrastructure,  develop sustainable transportation solutions , and  support for women’s entrepreneurship. The EBRD’s loan of up to €28.45 million will help improve  transportation  in the city’s riverside area through the reconstruction of roads and  a bridge across the Varzob River, as well as the construction of dedicated bus and trolleybus lanes, and purpose-built routes for walking, cycling, electric wheelchairs etc. “We are very pleased to sign this project with the authorities of Dushanbe,” commented EBRD's president. “They have been committed to the green agenda ever since the city joined the EBRD Green Cities programme in 2019.” The Dushanbe Green City Action Plan was developed in collaboration with the EBRD to address environmental and development issues affecting the 800, 000 residents of Tajikistan’s largest municipality. Investment to  promote a strategic shift from carbon-intensive, traditional transportation towards more eco-friendly, sustainable alternatives,  aims to reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by 37 percent. Joined by the Chairman of the National Bank of Tajikistan, Firdavs Nazrimad Tolibzoda, Renaud-Basso then signed a memorandum of understanding to support the country’s development of the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Code. Representing  providers of financial services, regulators, development banks and other stakeholders, the WE Financial Code was formed to increase financial assistance to women-led micro, small and medium enterprises, and as a globally accepted multi-stakeholder approach, help eliminate constraints and gaps in financing women entrepreneurs in Tajikistan. The EBRD has now provided fresh funds and created new growth opportunities for women-owned and managed businesses in Tajikistan. Under the auspices of its Women in Business (WiB) programme for Central Asia, a loan of US$ 5 million (€4.6 million) has been granted  to one of the country’s largest lenders, Bank Arvand, alongside technical assistance to help the bank promote women’s entrepreneurship and business activity. In addition, and under the EBRD’s Trade Facilitation Programme, a limited loan of US$ 1 million (€0.9 million) was offered to country’s leading microlenders, MDO HUMO, to help local clients both import goods, services, and equipment, and export their products.    

Female Entrepreneurs to Expand Mentoring – Great Strides for Uzbekistan

The Association of Business Coaches of Kazakhstan has launched the TalpynUp mentoring program for Central Asian women entrepreneurs. The project will be supported by the USAID Entrepreneurship and Business Environment Development Project at Imperial College, London. The six-month mentoring program will begin on April 20th in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan. It will help Central Asian women improve their business skills, and is aimed at those who have a business that has been operating for one to three years. Also, young businesswomen under the age of 29 who are mothers of children with special developmental needs will be able to gain valuable knowledge completely free of charge. The intensive mentoring program is based on individual training, mentoring and practical sessions with business coaches and experts. It consists of six modules focusing on such areas as sales, taxes and finance, human resources, management, and more. The organizers have emphasized the need for their program by explaining that, in the near future, artificial intelligence (AI) will replace many professions, especially those in which women are currently employed. Therefore, they need to develop and improve their skills and master new digital professions. In total, 190 female entrepreneurs from Kazakhstan have already been trained under the TalpynUp program. Now 60 young women each from Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, and 120 Kazakhstani women will have access to the program. In 2022, the World Bank published comparative data on the earnings of men and women. Experts found that women around the world have, on average, only 77% of the legal rights that men have. However, according to the organization, Uzbekistan has made significant progress in ensuring equal rights for men and women. For example, the country has legislated equal pay regardless of gender, expanded the areas where women can work on an equal basis with men, and criminalized domestic violence. Thanks to these reforms, Uzbekistan has become one of the five countries with the greatest progress in gender equality - along with Jordan, Malaysia, Sierra Leone and Togo - and took first place in Central Asia in the Women, Business and the Law ranking. It's worth noting that the number of women engaged in business in Uzbekistan has doubled over the past five years to 205,000. About 200,000 women have been trained in professions and business, and more than 400,000 women and girls have gained employment.

Letting Women Lead: Bridging the Finance Gap for Women-Led Businesses

Opinion by Hela Cheikhrouhou, IFC Regional Vice President, Middle East, Central Asia, Türkiye, Afghanistan, and Pakistan I get to meet many courageous women in my work for IFC in Southwest and Central Asia. [1] I’ve witnessed the seemingly insurmountable challenges they encounter every day. I’ve seen the unyielding resolve of rural women in Tattha, Pakistan in the face of climate change-induced severe floods, and the stunting of their children due to a lack of potable water. I’ve heard the heartening stories of female leaders shattering the glass ceiling in Kuwait. I’ve had passionate discussions with women entrepreneurs who are struggling to secure financing in a region where very few formal enterprises are majority owned by women. In Kazakhstan, that proportion is just 23.8 percent. In Jordan, it’s 8.1, in Lebanon, 4.7. Closing the economic gender gap is even more urgent due to the region’s poor performance in the World Bank's Women, Business and Law 2023 score: Nearly half its countries ranked lowest on the index. Their struggles remain largely invisible to the world. But, with entrenched economic challenges and escalating fragility and conflict, we can no longer afford to avert our eyes from the issues faced by half of the global population. The numbers reveal a disturbing gender disparity. In 2022, female labor force participation in the Middle East, Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Türkiye (MCT) stood at 26 percent of women at working age, compared to 75 percent for men. This isn’t just a matter of equity—failing to bridge economic gender gaps in these countries casts a dark shadow on the region's annual GDP. The valiant voices I've encountered have shone a light on the key challenges preventing women from thriving in, or even entering the work force: the lack of flexible working arrangements, robust measures to combat harassment, safe transportation, affordable childcare, and better access to a quality education. Showcasing female role models would also help inspire girls and young women to pursue a career. In the entrepreneurial landscape, the uneven playing field makes survival and growth an uphill battle for women-led businesses. The dearth of funding directed towards women entrepreneurs is another key obstacle—a mere 7 percent of private equity and venture capital in emerging markets is invested in women-founded startups. Many factors contribute to women’s limited access to startup capital. One reason is this staggering statistic: only about 15% of all VC 'cheque-writers' are women. This glaring absence of a female perspective in the venture capital space invites unconscious biases. A lack of collateral, due to limitations on women’s access to asset ownership, further exacerbates women entrepreneurs' lack of access to funding. But the challenges go far beyond finance. Social and cultural norms act as significant barriers to women's entrepreneurship. For example, cultural expectations see childcare responsibilities placed mainly on women—preventing them from excelling in the entrepreneurship space. Yet hidden behind these challenges are outsized opportunities. The potential benefits of financing women-led businesses are substantial for both banks and investors. Research consistently shows that a gender-balanced portfolio...

ADB and Kompanion Bank to Boost Financing of Women-Led and Small Businesses in Kyrgyzstan

As reported in a news release on its website, on December 28th the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Kompanion Bank Closed Joint Stock Company on December 28th signed off a loan of up to $5 million in local currency financing to boost micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in Kyrgyzstan, especially those owned or led by women. Established in 2004, Kompanion Bank is one of the large commercial banks in the Kyrgyz Republic and dominates the MSME market through its wide network with 93 branches across the country. More than half of Kompanion’s portfolio is with micro and small enterprises. “Women account for about a third of entrepreneurs in the Kyrgyz Republic, but they nevertheless face significant challenges in accessing financial services and credit,” said ADB Director General for Private Sector Operations, Suzanne Gaboury. “This partnership with Kompanion Bank will help bridge the financing gap for women-led small businesses, as well as provide a strong case for the sustainability of local currency lending to these companies.” To strengthen development impact and address finance and bankability constraints, transactions incorporate a credit guarantee from the Asian Development Fund’s (ADF) Private Sector Window facility (PSW) of up to $2.3 million. ADB will also provide technical assistance to Kompanion Bank to enhance its digital capabilities and operational efficiency. “We are happy to be a partner with ADB in this initiative to support micro and small entrepreneurs in the Kyrgyz Republic. We believe that our experience in the MSME market will allow us to make a significant impact on the local economy, and we look forward to working closely with ADB for the benefit of our clients and the community,” said Kompanion Bank CEO, Margarita Cherikbaeva. ADB will also help Kompanion Bank to develop a gender action plan to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in its business activities. Key activities will include increasing the number of women borrowers and delivering training on improved agricultural practices and digital and financial literacy for female clients.