Central Asia Invest
Launched in 2007, Central Asia Invest is promoting the development of the private sector, especially of small and medium-sized enterprises, in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The programme is working on two levels: On the level of Central Asia Business Intermediary Organisations to improve their services to small and medium-sized enterprises, and on the policy level to improve the overall business climate.
The second Central Asia Invest networking event took place in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on 20/21 September 2011. The event brought together representatives of the grant projects financed under Central Asia Invest, government representatives of the Central Asian countries involved, representatives of other donors in the region as well as EU representatives. Private sector development in Central Asia, specifically the role played by business intermediary organizations and the implementation of the Central Asia Invest programme were the focus of discussions. Interactive workshops, targeted presentations and a project exhibition provided an opportunity to exchange knowledge, best practices and lessons learnt.
Why Central Asia Invest?
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can play a vital role in supporting economic growth and combating poverty in Central Asia. Their development is however hampered by various factors, such as fragmented knowledge of business administration with regard to human resources, marketing, financial management, and weak legislative and regulatory framework, as well as low level of regional economic cooperation.
Central Asia Invest is encouraging the growth and expansion of SMEs by reinforcing the role and competences of Central Asian Business Intermediary Organisations and by improving the business climate for SMEs with a regional approach.
How is it designed?
Central Asia Invest is addressing both the business as well as the policy level to achieve its objective:
1) Grant projects
Central Asia Invest provides grants to partnerships between Central Asian and European Business Intermediary Organisations. The projects' activities are strengthening the capacity of Central Asian Business Intermediary Organisations for example with a thematic focus on food safety and quality in food processing, standards and quality management in transport and logistics or marketing in tourism. Other projects are targeting cross-sectoral issues such as women entrepreneurship or intellectual property rights.
With a budget of EUR 8.6 million, the programme is co-funding 20 projects, selected through restricted Calls for Proposals in 2008 and 2010. A description of each of the projects (objectives, impact, key figures etc.) is available in the Central Asia Invest brochure, which can be downloaded under "Key documents".
Promoting the Role of Women Entrepreneurs in Local Economic Development (PROWELED)
In Uzbekistan, many women have small businesses to sustain their families. They play a crucial role for economic well-being and social cohesion especially in remote rural areas. The PROWELED project supports the Business Women Association (BWA) of Uzbekistan in providing better and demand-oriented services to its members. The project increases the qualification of BWA staff and it also supports establishing information and training centres for business women.
Duration: 24 months Budget: EUR 385 000 (EU contribution 85%)
2) Contribution to OECD's "Eurasia Competitveness Programme" in Central Asia
In order to improve the business climate for SMEs and to encourage regional economic integration, Central Asia Invest is contributing with EUR 1 million to the OECD-led Central Asia Initiative, which is part of its Eurasia Competitiveness Programme . The initiative is conducting regional policy reviews to identify sector-specific policy barriers to the business climate and priority areas for reform. At the same time, it brings together policy makers, government agencies and business intermediaries in regional working groups. These provide a forum for dialogue and peer reviews, the exchange of experiences and the development of policy recommendations.