ASTANA – A new Regional Small Business Programme (RSBP) launched by the European Union (EU) and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in Almaty Jan. 30 will provide online training and knowledge-sharing platforms for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Central Asia region.
“Training programmes for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises’ (MSME) finance have been hugely popular with financial institutions in Central Asia. The RSBP will not only employ modern technologies but will also target wider audiences in multiple locations across Central Asia, making it a better and more efficient programme for MSME financiers,” said head of the EBRD office in Kazakhstan Agris Preimanis.
“Access to finance remains one of the major challenges for small and medium-sized enterprises in Kazakhstan and strengthening them is crucial for innovation and diversification of the economy. The approach has proven very successful in other regions where the European Union has had such projects with the EBRD and I am confident that we will get similar results in Kazakhstan,” said EU Delegation to Kazakhstan Chargé d’Affaires Zoltan Szalai.
The EU finances the project, with the EBRD managing it. The programme aims to equip financial institutions in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan with new digital business tools which make operating small companies more effective and profitable.
Project developers will transfer know-how and technologies in MSME finance. Senior representatives of the EU, EBRD, Kazakh government, Kazakh National Bank, various international organisations and regional financial institutions took part in the opening ceremony.
Experts believe the project will help local financial intermediaries with systematic digital access to EBRD’s experience. Employees of Central Asian region partner banks will be trained on different topics to improve providing their services to SMEs. In the future, the digital platform will be transformed into an online learning system more widely available to financial institutions in the region.
The project will be implemented by Internationale Projekt Consult GmbH, a German consulting company which has already executed similar projects in the Central Asian region. Damu Entrepreneurship Development Fund, which has been operating in all Kazakh regions for many years, will become a key partner.
“The digital platform launched today will be used for knowledge-sharing, training and skills assessment of staff working in the financing of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. It will help financial sector professionals to better understand the principles of selection and development of projects for provision of financial support aimed at the development of businesses,” said Damu Entrepreneurship Development Fund chairperson Abai Sarkulov.