EBRD launches Women in Microbusiness programme, focuses on Kazakh regions

ASTANA – The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is accepting applications for the Women in Microbusiness project financed by the Kazakh Ministry of National Economy, reports EBRD’s press service. The business training project will accept 350 women entrepreneurs from 14 regions.

Micro-enterprises led by women with up to nine staff and an annual turnover of up to 100,000 euros can take part in the programme. Participation is free.

Business experts in the field of marketing, information technology, leadership and financial management will share their knowledge and ideas with participants.

“Today, the key development barriers for microenterprises remain limited access to finance and professional expertise in business development. EBRD’s complex dual approach provides both financing and advice. The entrepreneurs will gain access to efficient business tools and will be able to take their company to a new level,” said EBRD Programme Coordinator Damir Ayupov.

Women in Microbusiness training will be held in 14 cities, including Aktobe, Aktau, Atyrau, Kyzylorda, Kostanai, Karaganda, Kokshetau, Petropavlovsk, Pavlodar, Shymkent, Taldykorgan, Taraz, Uralsk and Ust-Kamenogorsk , from February to July.

Women who want to take part must fill out an application at http://women-microbusiness.kz. Applications will accepted until Feb. 10. Participants will be selected based on merit.

Natalia Akhshabayeva, who heads the Semiramida sewing factory and who has taken part in EBRD advisory projects with local and international consultants, worked with EBRD on a similar and successful project. Her company participated in an EBRD project to help small and medium-sized businesses develop.

“After the programme, we changed our mission and vision, expanded our product line and increased employee motivation,” Akhshabayeva said in an interview for this story. “We gained knowledge in the field of fashion design, identified our target customer, got the necessary tools and algorithms for creating and promoting the collection. We are grateful for the support and experts who worked with us. However, this is only the beginning. We believe our brand will be known not only in Kazakhstan, but also beyond our borders.”

Fall/winter collection by Manera

The Semiramida factory produces all products of the Manera brand, a Spanish-Kazakh line inspired by Spanish designer Sonia Prado and Kazakh designer Gulnar Bekibayeva. Semiramida’s main objective was to bring the Manera trademark to both local and export markets.

“We set the task of becoming the Kazakh brand of women’s clothing in 2016. The task required both investment and knowledge in the field of collection creation, skills in marketing and brand promotion. It was necessary to take into account how the fashion is changing and how styles become outdated,” said Akhshabayeva.

The company worked with marketing experts from Finland and the Netherlands and a specialist in social media from Italy. Over the year, four collections with more than 100 units of clothing were created. The website was launched and accounts were created on Instagram and Facebook. The marketing department created positions for a brand and content manager.

“We learned a lot by working with EBRD consultants. They showed us how to prepare collections, as we used to work mainly in the business to business sector. Most importantly, we found our target audience. Consultants said that it is impossible to make clothes for everyone. It is necessary to know your target audience. We chose a segment of business customers who want a unique and limited collection,” she said.

The company will present its spring-summer collection March 1 in Almaty.

“Last year we dedicated to promoting our brand in the local market and we have plans to enter the Russian market. We already have an agent to represent our brand in Moscow. We have nine stores in Kazakhstan and this year we plan to increase sales,” she said.

The company has stores in Almaty, Astana, Aktobe and Karaganda. Their items are also available online, with delivery to all regions of the country.

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