Leveraging SME Finance through Value Chains in Tajikistan
Unless the business environment, entrepreneurial skills, and banking sector of Tajikistan improve, the ability of small and medium-sized enterprises to withstand future economic shocks will weaken.
Tajikistan’s outlook for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) remains challenging as it continues to recover from economic downturn. The SME sector is small but steadily growing in terms of value addition and share of total employment, although access to finance remains poor and financial literacy is low. The prospects are that unless the business environment, entrepreneurial skills, and banking sector improve, the ability of SMEs to withstand future economic shocks will weaken. The Government of Tajikistan has helped to implement much-needed reforms, such as the creation of stock exchange and credit bureau, as well as strengthening regulation and improving the ease of doing business, but a shallow financial sector and underdeveloped capital markets risk reversing the gains from past reforms. Despite modest interest in Tajikistan’s value chains, private investment is low and emerging comparative advantages in niche sectors are therefore not capitalized on. In this context, we recommend that sufficient support infrastructure to help SMEs leverage finance should include the rollout of business incubation and acceleration facilities, business associations, and crowdfunding platforms. The existing nontransparent financing architecture, and stakeholders’ weakly coordinated efforts to improve financial literacy and corporate governance standards among SMEs, will continue to hamper value chain development if not adequately addressed.