EU support to the private sector in Central Asia - under the Central Asia Invest Programme - is helping at reducing poverty by boosting small and medium-sized enterprises growth and competitiveness.
Launched in 2007, Central Asia Invest is promoting the development of the private sector, with a focus on 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 (i.e. chambers of commerce, business associations…) to improve their services to small and medium-sized enterprises, and on the policy level to improve the overall business climate.
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. They can generate new employment opportunities and improve living conditions of some sectors of the population. 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 the competences of Central Asian Business Intermediary Organisations (BIOs) and by improving the business climate for SMEs.
How is it designed?
Central Asia Invest is addressing both the business and 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 to assist local SMEs and to promote better policies in their favour. For instance, some projects have 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 strengthening Central Asia Entrepreneurship Ecosystem.
Up to now, three restricted Call for Proposals have taken place, with the first one in 2008 providing co-funding for 12 projects, the second one in 2010 for 9 projects, and the last one in 2012 for 8 projects. A description of each of the projects (objectives, impact, key figures etc.) under the last two phases of the programme is available in the Central Asia Invest brochure.
Handicraft and business through regional integration and fair trade market
Both in Tajikistan and in Kyrgyzstan, the handicraft sector is an activity with high potentials for GDP increasing and job creation. Giving incentives to the handicraft sector can have a strong impact in the rural and remote areas, where most of the artisans live, and for the involvement of the most vulnerable population, with a large majority of women.
The objective of the project is to reinforce the Tajik and Kyrgyz Handicraft Business Intermediary Organisations, particularly bolstering their representative role, their sustainability and their competences on supporting handicraft SMEs to approach the internal and foreign markets.
Duration: 24 months Budget: €587 000 (EU contribution 85%)
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 to the OECD-led Central Asia Initiative, which is part of its Eurasia Competitiveness Programme . The initiative is conducting regional and national policy reviews to identify sector-specific policy barriers to the business climate and priority areas for reform. At the national level, competitiveness issues are discussed through Public Private Working Groups in specific sectors (access to finance, human capital, trade policy and promotion…). Results of the Working Groups are then peer-reviewed by OECD members and countries of the region at the OECD Eurasia Competitiveness Roundtable, and presented in Policy handbooks for use by the government. The European Union co-chairs the Central Asia Initiative together with Kazakhstan, and has been co-financing it since 2009.
For further information you can contact DEVCO CA INVEST