Launching the new Women in Business programme in Kazakhstan, the EBRD is providing a local currency credit line for women entrepreneurs which will be on-lent via Bank CenterCredit, one of the EBRD’s partner banks in Kazakhstan.
The 3.7 billion tenge financing package will support female entrepreneurship and participation in the economy by helping women-led small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to access finance, know-how and advice.
“The EBRD is proud to announce the first project under the new Women in Business programme in Kazakhstan, which was strongly supported by the government under the umbrella of the Enhanced Partnership with the EBRD. I want to thank Prime Minister Karim Massimov and Minister of the Economy Yerbolat Dossaev for their support to EBRD programmes where we work as partners to unleash the country’s potential. I am also grateful to the Damu Fund and its Chair Lyazzat Ibragimova for its continued support of EBRD initiatives in the SME sector,” said Janet Heckman, EBRD Director for Kazakhstan.
Vladislav Lee, the CEO of Bank CenterCredit, commented: “We are convinced that in situations when access to local currency is limited, the EBRD credit line and guarantee from the Damu Fund will help Bank CenterCredit to provide feasible support to women entrepreneurs. In the current market conditions, this loan will support existing businesses and save jobs.”
Although women make up more than half the population of Kazakhstan, they head only 40.7 per cent of active SMEs and contribute only 38 per cent of GDP. Across all sectors, SMEs run by men are generally larger than women-led SMEs, with an average of 3.73 employees for the former and 2.32 for the latter. Because of their larger businesses, men commonly receive larger loans. Women-led SMEs are able to access loans for smaller businesses but face difficulties in graduating to larger businesses. Women’s businesses in Kazakhstan, as in many other countries in the EBRD region, also have poorer access than men to information and technical support.
The Women in Business programme, which the EBRD has already successfully rolled out in Turkey, the Western Balkans and the Caucasus, combines credit lines to women owning or running businesses with know-how and advice provided through the EBRD’s Small Business Support programme supported by donors.
In May 2015 the government of Kazakhstan provided over US$ 43 million in grant financing towards several EBRD programmes aimed at promoting SMEs and regional investment.
Five out of the seven EBRD offices in Kazakhstan are dedicated to supporting micro, small and medium-sized businesses, and the Bank is planning to open more offices around the country.
To date, the EBRD has invested over US$ 7 billion in the economy of Kazakhstan.
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