USAID’s three year program helped 960 women become better entrepreneurs

The project participants
The project helped to improve business skills of 960 women
USAID

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. USAID Women’s Leadership in Small and Medium Enterprises (WLSME) program’s closing event took place on August 28, 2015 from 9:00 till 14:00 at Park Hotel Bishkek. The event brought together representatives of relevant Ministries, non-government organizations, experts and 100 women entrepreneurs from all regions of Kyrgyzstan that had opportunities to develop their businesses through WLSME program. The main topic of discussion at the closing event is supporting and developing women entrepreneurship and contribution of women leaders in the development of the Kyrgyz economy.

“WLSME targeted three sectors which are a priority under the National Development Strategy: garments, agro processing, and tourism. These are priority sectors because of their potential to spur broad-based economic growth in the Kyrgyz Republic” said USAID/Kyrgyz Republic Mission Director Michael Greene in his opening remarks. 

Over three years, WLSME ​delivered consulting and technical business support to 960 women entrepreneurs from across the Kyrgyz Republic, assisting them to more ​effectively manage their businesses, earn better incomes, and create new jobs.​ The program also trained participants in technical issues such as garment construction, garment design, hygiene and certification in food processing, hospitality standards and many other topics.

All program participants took part in the WLSME program contest on development and introduction of the best business plan. As a result, authors of 100 best business plans received grants, intensive support through direct consultations from international and national experts, and participated in the mentoring program and exchange visits.

According to one of the winners of the business plan competition – Jamilya Kabilova who owns a sewing shop in Osh, the most important thing this program gave was knowledge.

“We brought back a lot of knowledge from every seminar and used it right away in our work. It was almost like giving sight to a blind person” says Jamilya.

WLSME organized two large textile fairs, tourism campaigns, and sponsored the creation of the largest tourist accommodation database in the Kyrgyz Republic.

Assessments show that in 2015 alone, ​approximately​ 2/3 of ​WLSME ​participants expanded their workforce​s as a result of USAID's support. Project assessments indicate that 90% of agro-processing participants are successfully applying the skills and knowledge gained through WLSME to grow their businesses. 

Women entrepreneurs emphasize that thanks to the participation in WLSME program they have greater confidence in themselves, have increased useful business contacts, have stronger determination to develop their businesses further and more confidence in the future.

The conference also featured a small trade fair that displayed products from sewing shops from the regions and Bishkek, national crafts, clothes, felt and silk souvenirs, various canned and dried vegetables and fruit, national grain food (talkan) produced by winners of the program’s business plan competition.

During the opening ceremony of the conference, State Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture Damir Kolubaev mentioned that only 21% of businesses registered in Kyrgyzstan are led by women, which signifies of a serious gender gap in this sphere. “This project helped to identify main obstacles for development of women’s leadership in small and medium entrepreneurship” said Mr. Kolubaev.

WLSME program is one of the many assistance programs supported by the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). For more information about the program please visit our website at http://www.usaid.gov/ru/kyrgyz-republic/fact-sheets/womens-leadership-small-and-medium-enterprises-wlsme-program.

Last updated: June 15, 2017

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