Kyrgyz Republic: Women’s Entrepreneurship Development Project

Sovereign Project | 46010-001

Summary

1. The development impact of the project is to improve living standards among women in rural areas and small towns in the Kyrgyz Republic. The outcome will be the low-income women microentrepreneurs in the rural areas and small towns in the Kyrgyz Republic scaled up to formal and sustainable businesses. The project will (i) build the capacity of women microentrepreneurs and policymakers to promote women's microentrepreneurship; (ii) help partner financial institutions (PFIs) adopt and improve gender-inclusive policies and outreach for women microentrepreneurs; and (iii) finance, on a pilot basis, introduction of new financial services that help to support women microentrepreneurs, and with potential for wide-scale replication by PFIs.

2. Expected Key Performance Indicators:

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Procurement Documents

Title Document Date
Women’s Entrepreneurship Development Project Dec 2013

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Project Name Women’s Entrepreneurship Development Project
Project Number 46010-001
Country Kyrgyz Republic
Project Status Approved
Project Type / Modality of Assistance Grant
Source of Funding / Amount
Grant 9170-KGZ: WOMEN'S ENTREPRENEURSHIP DEVELOPMENT PROJECT
Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction US$ 1.50 million
Strategic Agendas Inclusive economic growth
Drivers of Change Governance and capacity development
Partnerships
Sector / Subsector Finance - Inclusive finance
Gender Equity and Mainstreaming Gender equity
Description

1. The development impact of the project is to improve living standards among women in rural areas and small towns in the Kyrgyz Republic. The outcome will be the low-income women microentrepreneurs in the rural areas and small towns in the Kyrgyz Republic scaled up to formal and sustainable businesses. The project will (i) build the capacity of women microentrepreneurs and policymakers to promote women's microentrepreneurship; (ii) help partner financial institutions (PFIs) adopt and improve gender-inclusive policies and outreach for women microentrepreneurs; and (iii) finance, on a pilot basis, introduction of new financial services that help to support women microentrepreneurs, and with potential for wide-scale replication by PFIs.

2. Expected Key Performance Indicators:

(i) Female employment rate increases from baseline of 47.1% in 2010 by at least 1.5% by 2018; (ii) Gap in level of nutrition between low-income (poor) and nonpoor households decreases from 27.8% in 2010 to 25% in 2018; (iii) At least 1 or 2 new financial services introduced by each PFI into its operations by 2016; (iv) At least 500 women microentrepreneurs, PFI staffs, and other stakeholders receive training to improve their knowledge and skills for developing sustainable women's microenterprises by end 2016; (v) Gender-sensitive and socially oriented policies and strategies streamlined into operations of PFIs by end 2016.

Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy

1. Poverty remains high in the Kyrgyz Republic, especially in the rural areas and small towns that account for about 80% of the population (of which 51% is female). Around 33% of the total population lives below the poverty line. The two southern oblasts of Jalal-Abad and Osh are the most populous, and they are home to 56% of the poor. After the Kyrgyz Republic gained independence in 1991, many women lost their jobs in the formal sector (more than 80% had been employed by cooperatives or state farms). They moved into the lower paid informal sectors and turned to subsistence farming and small-scale activities like trade or handicrafts. While two ADB projects, both completed in 2010, helped generate livelihood opportunities by supporting 2,300 female entrepreneurs, most businesses remain very small. Moreover, limited availability of microfinance (generally in the range of $500-$1,500) provides little opportunity for turning self-employment into sustainable small businesses that generate jobs in rural areas. Therefore, there is a need to address cross-cutting women's microentrepreneurship development issues. The new project is designed based on an analysis of achievements, shortcomings, and lessons learned from the two aforementioned projects, namely, (i) continued capacity building of women microentrepreneurs is a prerequisite for any project; (ii) stronger networking and information sharing through marketing channels, resource centers, or other organized women's groups is an important thrust for empowering women entrepreneurs; and (iii) lack of financing to address the needs of women microentrepreneurs and their inability to seek such financing impede small microenterprises' viability and sustainability.

2. In the Kyrgyz Republic, there are more than 600 active microfinance institutions (MFIs), which provide micro-loans to around 9% of the population. More than 70% of micro-loan borrowers are women, indicating that their access to other forms of credit is difficult. Based upon the loan portfolios data of major MFIs, most of these women are returning customers. However, these loans provide limited opportunities for poverty-reducing job creation. Current lending activities in the microfinance sector are focused on group lending and lending on limited assets with very short payback periods and high interest rates (on average over 35% per annum or higher). This is not necessarily sufficient to support enhancement of microenterprises owned or managed by women. Because such limited access is undermining their potential, there is a need to address demand for financial services by women microentrepreneurs with potential for developing into sustainable businesses. The project will help improve the services of MFIs to women microentrepreneurs through (i) expanding outreach and capacity to support women borrowers; and (ii) financing, on a pilot basis, of new financial services enhancing the viability and sustainability of women's microenterprises and with potential for wide-scale replication by PFIs.

3. Furthermore, affordable credit alone will not help women entrepreneurs to grow. It must be accompanied by adequate and sensitively designed training and capacity building and advisory programs. As evidenced by various studies (footnote 1), lack of capacity, experience, and information form a major barrier to increased use of financial services especially among rural women microentrepreneurs. The needs to foster improved capacity for both lenders and borrowers, including through improved marketing and sales on the part of lenders coupled with more efficient credit analysis of loan applications, as well as improved ability to evaluate the economic benefits of borrowed money on the part of women entrepreneurs, have been posed as the greatest challenges. The need for better information between and among lenders and borrowers, including improved explanation of loan terms and improved means of evaluating loan proposals on the part of women microentrepreneurs, constrain scaling up of lending activities. Traditional gender role expectations limit women's activities and education, and women entering micro-businesses tend to stay in traditional sectors and are forced also to keep up with their family responsibilities. Therefore, the project will address this through capacity building on leadership and communication, financial literacy, and business development by means of training and advisory services for women microentrepreneurs with growth potential who are willing to scale up to a formal and sustainable level. Moreover, public awareness campaign activities will aim to improve access to information on the microcredit market.

4. Expansion of women's enterprises has also come up against limitations of the regulatory frameworks and a lack of networks in place to service their production and distribution needs. Women microentrepreneurs' limited access to finance is compounded by their having lower sales volumes, less capital, less collateral, and weaker business skills and experience compared to male-owned businesses. There is also a growing realization that MFIs involved in promoting women's entrepreneurship should more aggressively develop strategies and policies to mainstream gender and social issues and approaches in business development. There is a need to expand policies on collateral and the variety of lending instruments in order to address the needs of different types of micro-businesses. Therefore, the project will support efforts to institutionalize gender-focused and socially oriented policies and programs for microfinance both in PFIs during the project and at a policy level through the Investment Climate Improvement Program.

5. The primary beneficiaries of the project will include, but not be limited to, low-income women microentrepreneurs who are willing to scale up to formal and sustainable level and that (i) are majority owned (more than 50%) or managed by women, with minimum income of 0 to $2,000 per annum; (ii) have a sound business development plan or are willing to develop one in future; (iii) invest into business development not less than 10% of annual profit or are willing to do so in future; (iv) plan to employ in future or employ currently at least 1 non-family member. This will also include (i) recipients of financing from the two previous ADB projects (footnote 11), and (ii) eligible women beneficiaries of micro-loans selected from the PFIs databases. In cooperation with three PFIs, the project will pilot innovative financial services which should improve access to finance and reduce the cost of funds through alternative financing schemes. This, in turn, will improve productivity and efficiency of women's microenterprises. The step up to higher productivity brings important benefits to the entrepreneur and, thereby, to her community. Women running microenterprises are often the primary sources of food security, health care and education for children, and all critical social development needs. Active participation of PFIs, along with active involvement of the government and other stakeholders, in promoting women's microentrepreneurship will help to create more jobs and income, and thereby to improve living standards among the population of the rural areas and small towns in the Kyrgyz Republic.

6. Taking into account the relative short life of the project and the need for further longer-term support of women microentrepreneurs' needs, the government will develop within 3 years from the project start, as part of an exit strategy, a proposal agreed with ADB and the Government of Japan via the Office of Cofinancing Operations for the development and operation of a new facility to promote women's microentrepreneurship. The subgrants made available to the PFIs for financing pilot projects through a standby credit guarantee facility or revolving fund will be returned to the government's separate

Impact Improved living standards among women in rural areas and small towns in the Kyrgyz Republic
Project Outcome
Description of Outcome Low-income women microentrepreneurs in rural areas and small towns in Kyrgyz Republic scale up to formal and sustainable businesses
Progress Toward Outcome --
Implementation Progress
Description of Project Outputs

1. Improved capacity of low-income women micro-entrepreneurs, involved partners, and relevant government agencies

2. Improved institutional framework supporting scaling up low-income women microentrepreneurs to formal and sustainable businesses

3. Increased access to financing by low-income women microentrepreneurs of the target group

4. Effective project management monitoring and audit

Status of Implementation Progress (Outputs, Activities, and Issues)

1. Training program is being implemented.

2. Being implemented.

3. The first batch of loans to women entrepreneurs were fully disbursed by PFIs, the second batch of loans is expected to be disbursed by end of 3Q 2015. Aiyl Bank has completed development of new lending product under the warehouse receipts and recieved the second tranche; 6 loans disbursed. FMCC has completed development of the new credit line product and recieved second tranche. Bai-Tushum has completed development of the new lending product in combination with the use of microdeposit and overdraft.

4. Being implemented.

Geographical Location rural area and small towns, exculding Bishkek
Safeguard Categories
Environment FI
Involuntary Resettlement FI-C
Indigenous Peoples C
Summary of Environmental and Social Aspects
Environmental Aspects The project is categorized as FI and treated as C based on impacts on the environment, involuntary resettlement, and indigenous peoples. The project activities will focus on improving the capacity of women microentrepreneurs to access financial resources, services, and market opportunities, and therefore no social safeguard issues are envisaged. The PFIs existing environmental and social management systems (ESMS) were assessed which are generally satisfactory in accordance with ADB s Safeguard Policy Statement 2009 (SPS). PFIs have sufficient institutional arrangements and capacity to monitor and manage the risks. The PFIs agreed to only fund women microentrepreneurs activities with minimal or no adverse environmental impacts. The project will only fund activities that are in compliance with applicable national laws and regulations. In addition, projects with activities included in ADB s Prohibited Investment Activity List will not be funded. Inasmuch as the pilot projects will be administered through the PFIs, however, to strengthen full compliance with ESMS requirements in accordance with ADB s SPS the training will be provided to the PFIs as well as executing agency s staff before the project implementation on how to screen and deselect micro-loan proposals that fall under categories B and A for environment in accordance with ADB s SPS. It will be requested that the initial 10 micro-loan proposals be submitted by the PFIs through the executing agency to ADB for verification of the environmental categories assigned to them. Compliance with environmental safeguards will be monitored throughout project implementation based on results of the midterm review meetings as well as on-site inspections. The detailed ESMS will be agreed upon with the PFIs and will be described in the GIM. Due diligence assessment of the PFIs and their ESMS will be annexed to the GIM.
Involuntary Resettlement The project activities will focus on improving the capacity of women microentrepreneurs to access financial resources, services, and market opportunities, and therefore no social safeguard issues are envisaged.
Indigenous Peoples The project activities will focus on improving the capacity of women microentrepreneurs to access financial resources, services, and market opportunities, and therefore no social safeguard issues are envisaged.
Stakeholder Communication, Participation, and Consultation
During Project Design ADB's team consulted with the Embassy of Japan in the Kyrgyz Republic and the Kyrgyz Republic office of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) throughout project processing, meeting several times during reconnaissance and fact-finding missions. The Embassy of Japan supported the rationale for the proposed JFPR grant, the direct intervention to support low-income women microentrepreneurs with potential to scale up, and the gender and capacity building focus. The Embassy of Japan also agreed with project coverage of rural areas and small towns, and it supported pilot projects as a visible means of support to women microentrepreneurs. JICA supported the project scope and shared its experience with the One-Village-One-Product project, which also aids microentrepreneurs in the Issyk-Kul region. All these issues are reflected in the proposed project's design. The C&P during the project processing included: the stakeholder consultation workshops, focus group discussions, and key informant interviews on women's entrepreneurship development and improving access to finance for women entrepreneurs of the target group.
During Project Implementation The project will be implemented in consultation with relevant central and local government agencies, women's and professional associations, and nongovernment organizations. MOE will engage a national consultant to conduct a poverty impact assessment to develop a baseline, collect and analyze relevant information and data covering rural areas and small towns (excluding Bishkek) in all seven oblasts, and support MOE in monitoring a set of agreed targets. This will be implemented through a consultative process with local and central agencies, including both government and nongovernment organizations. The institutional development component, including support for business associations and women's groups, will involve a wide range of consultation workshops, focus group discussions, and other mechanisms for local participation in implementing and monitoring the project. The capacity building component's implementation also will utilize a wide range of mechanisms for outreach into local communities, including (where applicable) information and communication technology.
Business Opportunities
Consulting Services The project will require 18 person-months of international and 182 person-months of national consulting services (in microfinance, business development, gender development, curriculum development, training, awareness development, and others) to support project management, supervision, pilot projects implementation, capacity building and awareness campaign, as well as to conduct detailed economic, social, and poverty impact assessments. The specific terms of reference of these specialists to be identified together with the EA at the inception phase. All consultants including the training institute will be recruited in accordance with ADB's Guidelines on the Use of Consultants (April 2010, as amended from time to time) to provide the services for implementation, management, and progress monitoring of the JFPR grant.
Procurement All procurements under the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR) grant will be conducted in accordance with ADB's Procurement Guidelines (April 2010, as amended from time to time).
Responsible ADB Officer Gulkayr Tentieva
Responsible ADB Department Central and West Asia Department
Responsible ADB Division Public Management, Financial Sector and Trade Division, CWRD
Executing Agencies
Ministry of Economy106, Chui Prospect,Bishkek_Kyrgyz
Republic
Timetable
Concept Clearance 25 Nov 2011
Fact Finding 09 Apr 2012 to 25 Apr 2012
MRM 12 Jul 2012
Approval 14 Jan 2013
Last Review Mission -
Last PDS Update 24 Mar 2015

Grant 9170-KGZ

Milestones
Approval Signing Date Effectivity Date Closing
Original Revised Actual
14 Jan 2013 23 May 2013 23 May 2013 23 May 2017 - -
Financing Plan Grant Utilization
Total (Amount in US$ million) Date ADB Others Net Percentage
Project Cost 1.82 Cumulative Contract Awards
ADB 0.00 14 Jan 2013 0.00 1.05 70%
Counterpart 0.32 Cumulative Disbursements
Cofinancing 1.50 14 Jan 2013 0.00 0.56 37%
Title Document Type Document Date
Women’s Entrepreneurship Development Project Procurement Plans Dec 2013
Women’s Entrepreneurship Development Project Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction Jan 2013

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