ASTANA – A new, two-year support programme for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Kazakhstan has been launched by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Tengizchevroil (TCO), Kazakhstan’s top oil producer, the EBRD announced Oct. 6.
The roughly $515,000 programme, which will run from 2015–2017, will cover SMEs across Kazakhstan and promote entrepreneurship and help promising SMEs innovate, compete and reach new markets, according to the EBRD. It will include existing and potential suppliers to TCO, which operates the country’s giant Tengiz oilfield, as well as SMEs with no links to the company, according to the EBRD.
The programme aims to increase SME access to know-how and finance, strengthen links between businesses and improve the market for advice and the exchange of best practices through business clinics and seminars on strategy, marketing, human resource management, finance and bookkeeping and other topics. Eligible SMEs will also have a chance to work with local consultants and international industry experts on a cost-sharing basis, with the possibility of having up to 75 percent of their costs covered, the EBRD announced.
“SMEs are vital to sustainable economic growth and diversifying the economy of Kazakhstan. It is very important that SMEs are made aware that this opportunity exists and that the EBRD can assist them to access it on a cost-sharing basis. This new programme will also assist in improving and enhance public-private dialogue by supporting local supplier initiatives and events,” said Janet Heckman, director of the EBRD in Kazakhstan, according to the EBRD press release.
“TCO’s support for this programme demonstrates our continued commitment to helping Kazakh SMEs improve the quality of their goods and services and reach new markets, both domestically and internationally,” said General Director of TCO Tim Miller upon the announcement.
The project was signed off on during the Aktau Declaration: Synergy and Localization forum in Almaty.
The EBRD launched its Women in Business credit line for women entrepreneurs in the country last month, and in May 2015 the Kazakh government provided more than $43 million in grant financing towards several EBRD programmes to promote SMEs and regional investment. The government of Kazakhstan, BG Kazakhstan and the EBRD Shareholder Special Fund are core donors to the EBRD Small Business Support team in Kazakhstan.