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AKIPRESS.COM - The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) held the First Stakeholder meeting of the Small Business Initiative (SBI) in Bishkek on September 22 to mark the successful start of the program to support local SMEs in the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan, the Swiss Embassy said Tuesday.
Through this initiative, the EBRD is ramping up its activities with small and medium-sized enterprises to help them grow and make them more competitive. The event gathered representatives of government, business associations, banks and international partners to launch the initiative and discuss next steps.
This new initiative is made possible by a contribution from the Swiss Government through the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) of EUR 4.5 million to the EBRD’s Small Business Impact Fund alongside EUR 1.5 million from the EBRD Shareholders Special Fund to support activities in both the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan. The Bank’s work with SMEs is also supported by the European Union’s Investment Facility for Central Asia.Under the SBI, the EBRD is implementing three core sets of activities in the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan to bolster SME growth and competitiveness: investment, advice, and policy dialogue. So far this year, initial results on the investment side include the signing of an innovative “Women in Business” programme with two partner banks in Tajikistan, enhancement of the EBRD’s Risk-Sharing Facility (RSF) to finance SMEs together with partner banks, and new investments with three SMEs. On advice, highlights include 97 advisory projects for SMEs and support to the local consulting industry in each country to improve their services to small businesses. On the policy side, the EBRD is supporting the Investment Councils in both countries and is stepping up support for the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic’s “Taza Koom” initiative.
Each year, the Bank invests over €1.2bn in SMEs reaching over 200,000 small businesses. To date, the EBRD has invested EUR 473 million in the private sector in the Kyrgyz Republic and EUR 300 million in Tajikistan. The Bank has also implemented 1128 advisory projects in the Kyrgyz Republic and 656 in Tajikistan to enable SMEs to access know how and become more competitive.
The Government of Switzerland provides assistance for the development of the Kyrgyz Republic. The overall objective of its cooperation program is to promote peace and social cohesion as well as responsive and inclusive institutions and a sustainable development to improve the well-being of the population. Over the last 25 years Switzerland has granted more than CHF 360 million to Kyrgyzstan to support the transition process.