USAID Enterprise Competitiveness Project works with small and medium businesses to increase their competitiveness, help them access new markets, and mobilize investments to create more jobs and increase incomes of Kyrgyzstani households.
The project prioritizes regions with the highest levels of poverty and unemployment, including Batken, Jalal-Abad, Naryn, and Osh. It focuses on sectors that can grow faster and create more jobs, such as agriculture, apparel, manufacturing, education, and IT.
There are four main ways, the project helps to develop businesses:
- By providing grants to businesses, to acquire new equipment and technologies in order to expand and access new markets.
- By providing technical advice on management, organizational, financial, and marketing issues to improve human and social capital of small and medium businesses. The project prioritizes support for enterprises owned or managed by women and youth.
- By establishing partnerships with financial institutions, such as banks and investment funds, to improve access to more affordable finance for small- and medium-sized enterprises with less emphasis on collateral.
- By funding research, to identify problems that prevent businesses from growing and develop solutions to enable growth. Businesses can also benefit from automatization of business processes that the project supports by helping agencies develop modern information systems.
The project partnered with 120 companies and co-invested in developing their businesses. With project support companies expanded their production, introduced new products, and reached new markets. Since 2018, they have generated 25,959 jobs, including around 9,000 permanent jobs or around 11 percent of all new jobs for this period. For example, a woman-owned At-Bashy Sut dairy farm created 251 new jobs in a remote Naryn region in northern Kyrgyzstan.
With project support 118 companies reached 919 new markets: 316 international and 603 domestic markets. One of the examples is a local meat processor TORO LLC that equipped a blast freezing meat chamber with project support. This helped the company to preserve meat longer and export internationally by truck refrigerators. TORO LLC signed contracts with international companies and started exporting lamb meat to the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
The project provided assistance to 19 partner companies in obtaining international certification, four of which are women-led. This support creates new export opportunities for Kyrgyzstani producers. For example, EcoFloris tea producer received HACCP certification, Advantex LLC dried fruit manufacturer, TORO LLC, Balykchy Sut LLC, Barkad LLC, Joint Food Company LLC, Maniz KG, and Salih LTD received ISO 22000:2018 international certification, Uluk Agro Farm apple producer and Burgondu Cooperative from Jalal-Abad received Global GAP international certificates. Additionally, the project supported OSKO LLC and Daniel LLC in obtaining FSSC 22000 international certificates.
The project worked with Engels Farm, Tien Shan Mission Society and Eldan Atalyk processing company to establish stable soybean and corn supply chains. This helped to increase incomes of more than 3,000 farmer households who became suppliers.
80 start-ups graduated from the Business Acceleration Program that helped them find ways to grow faster. Most of these businesses are owned or led by women and young people. 18 best participants received small grants up to $20,000 from USAID. Four companies received a blended investment type of funding.
53 young professionals successfully completed internships at the project’s partner enterprises as part of the Youth Internship Program. 36 interns, including 25 women, received permanent jobs in the companies.
2,802 enterprises received over $51 million in funding from private financial institutions like Highland Capital, AV Frontiers, 996 Impact Circle, Accelerate Prosperity, Bakai Bank and Halyk Bank. The project worked with these institutions to arrange the new investments. USAID supported the introduction of new financial products such as mezzanine and equity financing in Kyrgyzstan. They helped to expand access to investment opportunities for local businesses.
The project supported Bakai Bank in obtaining an international credit rating from Moody’s Investors Service, making it the only local bank in the country with such rating. This enabled the bank to attract a $7 million from a German investment fund in 2021 to provide more affordable financing to small and medium enterprises and support green economy initiatives.
The project helped microfinance institutions raise capital from international investors. For example, with project support Amanat Credit secured its first international funding of a $1.6 million debt financing package from a Swiss impact investment firm. With this international funding Amanat Credit will provide more financing to Kyrgyzstani enterprises in rural regions.
The project supported the introduction of innovative information systems in the Central Depository, the International Court of Arbitration, the Department of Public Procurement, and the Kyrgyz Stock Exchange. The work continues to help improve their services and increase transparency of operations.
With USAID support the Union of Banks of Kyrgyzstan launched a new digital financial platform FinMarket. Users of the platform will have 24-hour remote access to important financial services and products. The platform will improve interaction between businesses and the financial sector.
The project worked with the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic to improve policies and regulations that help businesses grow. For example, the project partnered with the Council for Business Development and Entrepreneurship to improve the administration of state social insurance contributions and the taxation. Many of the amendments that project worked on were approved. While cooperating with JIA Business Association similar changes were introduced to the legislation on fire safety in construction allowing companies to obtain all permitting documents in much shorter period without excessive bureaucracy.
ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN
The project focused its efforts on women’s economic empowerment. 59 women-led companies received direct grants from the project to expand their businesses and create new jobs.
With project support Halyk Bank developed a new loan product for women-owned and women-led enterprises with a lower interest rate and minimum collateral requirements. Halyk Bank financed 677 women-led companies that accessed financing for more than $13.2.
In 2021, the project started working with nine crisis centers across Kyrgyzstan – Ayalzat-Karakol, Himaya, Maana, Ravenstvo, Activist, Ayalzat-Osh, DIA, Kaniet, and Ak-Jurok. The project helped these centers to open new small social businesses and trained them on business incubation and social entrepreneurship. Through USAID support, crisis centers renovated facilities to comply with environmental standards and procured new equipment – sewing machines, laundry machines, and drying equipment. For example, two crisis centers in Osh - Ak-Jurok and Ayalzat - launched a sewing workshop in partnership with Podium Fashion Center, an apparel factory. This partnership helped to train 125 women and employ 88 local women in producing high-quality clothes and accessories. This partnership focused on providing counseling and psychological support and creating comfortable working conditions for women who had endured gender violence. Women are gaining economic independence, learning new skills, and building a supportive community.
Project Duration: August 2018 – August 2023
Budget: $22.7 million
Implementing Partner: ACDI/VOCA
Key Partners: CrossBoundary, Village Capital, Nathan Associates
Contact information: Hiqmet Demiraj, firstname.lastname@example.org