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Private sector

The development of the Small and Medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is recognized to be vital if the benefits of economic growth are to be extended to a wider proportion of population. Therefore the EU supports reduction of poverty by building on trade and businesses capacities in Central Asia.


In this context, the "Regional Strategy Paper for Central Asia" [276 KB] identifies regional cooperation to promote development of SMEs as a priority for action.

Regional cooperation

Central Asia Invest

The European Commission has designed the Central Asia Invest Programme to promote the sustainable economic development of Central Asian Countries by encouraging the development of SMEs.

The programme targets Business Intermediary Organisations as these organisations can play a key role in the reform process towards a market economy, contributing to civil society development and to the creation of new employment opportunities and income. By improving their capacity to assist small businesses and to create bridges between the governments and the private sector, Central Asia Invest will contribute to the eradication of poverty and to the continued democratic and economic transition of these countries.

More information on the Central Asia Invest

Central Asia Invest

Launched in 2007, Central Asia Invest programme 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.

By 2011, it had awarded grants to 20 partnership projects between European and Central Asian business intermediary organisations, notably in areas such as export promotion, food processing and female entrepreneurship. The programme is also working, in cooperation with the OECD, to establish a regional dialogue on competitiveness, as a necessary precondition for an improved business climate in the region.

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".
  2. Contribution to OECD's "Eurasia Competitiveness 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.

24-26 April 2012 - Vienna, Austria - Central Asia Competitiveness Initiative, OECD

This three-day capacity-building seminar was held at the Joint Vienna Institute and examined existing investment policy and promotion frameworks in place in Central Asia.  The seminar identified areas most in need of reform, and provided participants with the tools to unlock their country’s potential in these areas.

The event was based on the key findings of the OECD Central Asia Competitiveness Outlook and OECD consultations with policy makers leading work on investment policy and promotion in the region. The meeting brought together delegates from beneficiary governments, Austrian businesses and international organisations.

On the 18th and on the 19th of September the Working Group on Access to Finance will take place in Istanbul, Turkey.

Last update: 03/09/2012 | Top