Co-financed by the government of Kazakhstan, programme combines loans and advice for women-led SMEs
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has officially launched its Women in Business programme in Kazakhstan. The programme, the first of its kind in Central Asia, assists women-led SMEs with accessing finance and business advice. Approximately 2,000 women-led Kazakh SMEs are expected to benefit under the programme.
The programme, which is co-funded by the EBRD and the government of Kazakhstan, offers credit lines, risk management support and technical assistance to local partner banks who work with women-led SMEs and business advisory services, training and mentoring to women-led SMEs directly. These services are now available in six EBRD offices in Kazakhstan – Aktobe, Almaty, Astana, Kostanai, Shymkent and Ust-Kamenogorsk, with Karaganda soon to follow. The government has allocated US$ 8.2 million for the programme.
The EBRD signed the first credit line under the programme in September, providing 3.72 billion tenge (approximately US$ 20 million) to Bank CenterCredit for on-lending to women-led SMEs.
The Women in Business programme’s launch in Kazakhstan has been officially announced at the fourth Eurasian Women's Summit in Astana, a forum which brings together more than 500 women from social, political, and business circles in the region. The EBRD has also introduced its innovative online business diagnostic tool, Business Lens, which enables women entrepreneurs to identify areas of improvement for their businesses.
Claudio Viezzoli, EBRD Managing Director for SME Finance and Development, said: “We believe that promoting women’s entrepreneurship is an important avenue for economic growth and diversification and we are delighted to announce the launch of our Women in Business programme in Kazakhstan within the Eurasian Women’s Summit. Women in Kazakhstan show great entrepreneurial spirit and we believe the EBRD’s programme forms part of a wider commitment to women’s economic empowerment in the country.”
Janet Heckman, EBRD Director for Kazakhstan, said: “The EBRD is proud to run its Women in Business programme in Kazakhstan, which was strongly supported by the government. Through the programme, we can help women-led businesses become more competitive by providing skills, knowledge and resources.”
To date, the EBRD has invested over US$ 7 billion in Kazakhstan’s economy. In 2015 the EBRD is planning to invest close to US$ 1 billion in various sectors, with a focus on diversification and inclusive growth.