In Kazakhstan, ADB is providing access to finance for micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) focusing on lending to women entrepreneurs, especially in the country's provinces. The project is funding local currency loans to help MSMEs maintain their operations, invest in productive technologies and grow their businesses.
ADB has also been supporting capacity-building workshops for women entrepreneurs in all 14 provinces of Kazakhstan. The workshops are aimed at improving the financial, legal and business literacy of rural women.
Kazakhstan - Nargiza Kadirova used to be a physician.
Due to health problems, she left her job and decided to set up a business.
She established a production facility for kurt, a traditional Central Asian dairy snack.
"Initially I employed 4 people, after I took a loan we expanded and the staff increased to 14 employees, then to 18," says Kadirova.
"In future I want to purchase land, build a farm and have my own cows."
Micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) play an important role in boosting Kazakhstan’s non-oil economy.
ADB has provided $200 million through the Damu Fund and financial institutions to help MSMEs, focusing on lending to women entrepreneurs, especially in the provinces.
"In the MSMEs, more than 50% or roughly half of them are led by women," comments Dai Chang Song.
"So, it is even more important to see that women gain the confidence, training and entrepreneurship to flourish."
Half of all loans under the project were provided to women entrepreneurs.
Like Ainur Orazymbetova, who owns a restaurant and a gym.
"First, I built the restaurant, then with the help of the second tranche and working capital I am now completing this gym," says Ainur Orazymbetova.
"We employ 20 people, in addition to this we also have 20 part-time waiters."
Access to finance is one of the main drivers of business development.
For Tatyana Ivanova, loans were vital in the success of her car seat covers workshop.
"Of course, I think that without a loan I would not be able to manage this business. You have noticed that it is very profitable, which is true," says Tatyana Ivanova.
"However, when you start paying the rent, paying the staff’s salaries, paying for electricity and gas, especially in wintertime, it requires a lot of money.
"We cannot immediately pull out such amount as 3 million tenge from the working capital. Therefore, we have to seek financing and I think we will continue to do so in future."
Capacity building trainings also help in strengthen women’s role in the economy.
"In partnership with ADB, Atameken National Chamber of Entrepreneurs and the banks we have also been conducting workshops for women entrepreneurs in rural areas to improve their knowledge in entrepreneurship and banking products," says Aiman Sarsengaliyeva, Damu.
"Workshops will be conducted in all 14 provinces of Kazakhstan."
"At the workshop there was a girl from Merke district who owns a small boutique of 20 square meters. She understood how she could develop further. Not just by reselling clothes but by establishing her own garment manufacturing workshop," says Aigul Akchalova.
"She understood how to find her niche."
Over 300 women in 7 regions of Kazakhstan have already participated in ADB workshops and improved their financial, legal and business literacy.