UNDP in Kazakhstan to Provide Loans for Rural Businesses Aimed at Conserving Biodiversity

NUR-SULTAN – The rural dwellers of Kazakhstan will receive loans for up to 4.5 years for businesses that contribute to the conservation of biodiversity within the Eco-Damu Loan Program for 2020-2024, the UNDP in Kazakhstan press service reported on Jan. 20. 

Maira Okhasova, participant of the Eco-Damu Loan Program for the period of 2014-2019. Photo credit: kz.undp.org.

The project is part of the second phase of the Eco-Damu Loan Program for 2020-2024, launched by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Kazakhstan, jointly with the Forestry and Wildlife Committee of the Kazakh Ministry of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources and the Financial Support Fund for Agriculture. 

The Program is designed for rural dwellers of Kazakhstan who live near specially protected natural areas to launch or further develop environmentally friendly businesses that contribute to the sustainable preservation of ecosystems. 

Photo credits: inbusiness.kz.

The businesses have to be in ecotourism, forestry, fishing, hunting and pasture farming, poultry farming, rabbit breeding and beekeeping. Qualified rural entrepreneurs will be able to receive a loan for up to 4.5 years at 6 percent interest rate per year, while the effective interest rate will not exceed 6.7 percent for each year, according to kz.undp.org. 

One success story is Ryash Stambekov from Almaty region, Balkhash district, participant of the first stage of the Eco Damu Loan Program for the period of 2014-2019. Stambekov received funding for the development of beekeeping. In 2015, he purchased an apiary and a machine for transporting bees, a bee-house, and dishes for transporting honey.

Another participant, Maira Okhasova, 48, from Akdala village, Balkhash district, Almaty region. Okhasova is a participant of the first stage of the Eco-Damu Loan Program for the period of 2014-2019. In 2016, she received financing in the amount of 1.8 million tenge(US$4,246) to open a farm for breeding rabbits worth a capacity of 400-500 heads. The rabbit farm has since been successfully operating with five staff members.

Ryash Stambekov, participant of the Eco-Damu Loan Program for the period of 2014-2019. Photo credits: kz.undp.org.

The second phase of the Eco-Damu Program covers 12 regions, 770 rural settlements and 28 specially protected natural areas of Kazakhstan, with a total budget of 275.3 million tenge (US$649,000).

“The Eco-Damu Program has already proven its effectiveness during the first phase of its implementation, granting loans to people residing in rural areas of Kazakhstan for developing animal husbandry, beekeeping, crop production, tourism business among others,” said Yakup Beris, UNDP Resident Representative in Kazakhstan.   

“We are confident that this initiative is a great opportunity to support local development, and generate new jobs, while safeguarding the biodiversity and ecosystems of our country,” Beris added.

Among the core priorities of the Program is to promote gender equality and economic empowerment of women. During the first phase of the Program, 30 women from rural areas received funding for developing their business.

“The Eco-Damu Program is a unique loan program supporting the development of ecotourism, forestry, hunting and fishing, while focusing on biodiversity conservation,” said Yerlan Muratov, Deputy Chairman of the Forestry and Wildlife Committee of the Ministry. 

The Program is the fourth joint initiative of UNDP and the Fund. Overall, since 2008, 221 projects have been implemented for a total of 561.6 million tenge(US$1.3 million), including the UNDP Global Environmental Facility (GEF) grant funding totaling 345 million tenge(US$813,000).

Programs such as Eco-Damu enable rural residents to launch and develop micro-businesses and create jobs, while protecting the environment,” said Zhandar Omarov, Chairman of the Board of the Fund of Financial Support for Agriculture. 

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