AKIPRESS.COM - The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is expanding its regional presence in Uzbekistan by opening a new local office in Urgench that will be the Bank’s third office in the country. Urgench is a major municipality in western Uzbekistan.
The new representation will allow the EBRD to support more small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through expert advice, training and a variety of financial tools in Khoresm region and in Karakalpakstan, an autonomous republic in Uzbekistan that is the country’s largest region.
The EBRD will build on the success of its Advice for Small Businesses programme, funded by the European Union and the EBRD Small Business Impact Fund (with contributions from Italy, Japan, South Korea, Luxembourg, Sweden, Switzerland, Taipei China and the United States of America), which since 2017 has delivered more than 100 advisory projects for SMEs in Uzbekistan.
Jürgen Rigterink, EBRD First Vice President, said: “Last year Uzbekistan became the largest recipient of EBRD funding in Central Asia. It is important to keep this momentum going and expand our activity to support the post-Covid-19 recovery. By opening our third office, in Urgench, we will improve the availability of funding for local SMEs, which are the principal employers in this part of the country.”
People living in rural areas of western Uzbekistan make up more than 65 per cent of the country’s population, while SMEs employ around 80 per cent of the local workforce. The Urgench office will also help the EBRD to join international efforts to support the livelihoods and businesses of people affected by environmental problems in the Aral Sea area.
In addition, the EBRD is planning to expand activities under its Cultural Heritage Framework to upgrade hotels in the historic town of Khiva and the Khoresm region, opening Uzbekistan’s enormous potential in tourism and hospitality to leisure and business travellers and creating growth opportunities for local firms. Khoresm is one the historic regions of Central Asia, with a number of ancient places of interest.