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EBRD and EU Launch Regional Small Business Programme for Central Asia

Wednesday 31 January 2018

ALMATY (ERBD press service) — Small and medium-sized private enterprises (SMEs) in Central Asia will benefit from a new Regional Small Business Programme (RSBP) launched in Almaty today. Online training and knowledge-sharing platform will be available to financial institutions.

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The EU-funded project will be managed by the EBRD and will equip financial institutions in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan with new digital business tools for effective work with small businesses.

The programme is designed to transfer know-how in the field of micro, small and medium-sized enterprise (MSME) finance. The launch event was attended by senior representatives of the EU, the EBRD, the government of Kazakhstan, the National Bank of Kazakhstan, international organisations and regional financial institutions.

The RSPB will establish a knowledge-sharing platform accessible to partners in MSME finance in Central Asia. It will also help local financial intermediaries to get systematic digital access to the EBRD’s experience in this field. Partner banks from Central Asia will receive regular training on a variety of topics relevant to financial institutions providing their services to MSMEs. It is envisaged that eventually this digital platform will be transformed into an online learning system that is more widely available to financial institutions in Central Asia.

The RSBP will be implemented by the German consulting company IPC (Internationale Projekt Consult GmbH), which has a track record of implementing similar initiatives in the region.

The programme’s key partner in Kazakhstan will be the Damu Entrepreneurship Development Fund JSC, which operates in all regions of Kazakhstan and has considerable experience of working with local businesses, public organisations and local executive authorities.

Agris Preimanis, Director, Head of the EBRD in Kazakhstan, said:

Training programmes for MSME finance have been hugely popular with financial institutions in Central Asia. The RSBP will not only employ modern technologies but will also target wider audiences in multiple locations across Central Asia, making it a better and more efficient programme for MSME financiers.

Zoltan Szalai, Chargé d’Affaires of the EU Delegation to Kazakhstan, noted:

Access to finance remains one of the major challenges for small and medium-sized enterprises in Kazakhstan, and strengthening them is crucial for innovation and diversification of the economy. The approach has proven very successful in other regions where the European Union has had such projects with the EBRD and I am confident that we will get similar results in Kazakhstan.

Abai Sarkulov, Chairman of the Board, DAMU, commented:

The digital platform launched today will be used for knowledge-sharing, training and skills assessment of staff working in the financing of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. It will help financial sector professionals to better understand the principles of selection and development of projects for provision of financial support aimed at the development of businesses.

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