On Thursday, March 15, the EBRD organized the first stakeholders meeting of its Small Business Initiative (SBI) in Dushanbe.

According to the EBRD Resident Office (RO) in Dushanbe, the event brought together various EBRD stakeholders: representatives of the government, donor agencies, international organizations, local financial institutions, business associations, and SMEs.

The key objective of the meeting was in presenting the achievements of the EBRD’s Small Business Initiative for the period from January 2017 – January 2018 and discussing priorities for the coming year in Tajikistan.

The first ever SBI stakeholders meeting of this kind took place in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in September 2017 and the Dushanbe event build on that.  Once again the EBRD stressed that its SME support activity in the both countries is based around the tree core principles: investment, advice, and policy dialogue.

Highlights of the EBRD’s SME support activity in Tajikistan in 2017 included: the expansion of the Bank’s “Women in Business” program to two local financial intermediaries and the introduction of the Risk-Sharing Framework (RSF) in order to finance SMEs together with partner-banks.  67 domestic SMEs benefited from business advice, while 6 market development events were aimed at the improvement of services provided to small businesses.  The EBRD was also actively supporting the Investment Council in Tajikistan. Under the Small Business Initiative the EBRD provides SME more effective, client-focused support, innovating new improved services and products to meet the needs of the SME sector.

Mrs. Nigina Anvari, the Deputy Head of State Committee on Investment and State-owned Property Management of Tajikistan welcomed participants and mentioned that the EBRD has strong cooperation with the Government and the activities are in line with national strategy.  

Mr. Neil McKain, EBRD Director for Central Asia, welcomed participants and mentioned: “A vibrant SME sector is a vital ingredient for a healthy market economy. Supporting SMEs is one of the Bank’s key strategic priorities for Tajikistan and an area where the Bank already has a successful track-record. But we know we can do even more to foster entrepreneurship through the Small Business Initiative. That’s why we are grateful for the generous support from our donors.”

The Small Business Initiative in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan is supported by a contribution of €4.5 million to the EBRD’s Small Business Impact Fund from the Swiss Government, through the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), and €1.5 million contribution from the EBRD Shareholder Special Fund. The Bank’s work with SMEs in both countries benefits from the support of the EU’s Investment Facility for Central Asia (IFCA)

“Switzerland strongly believes that sustainable development begins with good jobs, inclusive economic growth and shared prosperity.  Hundreds of jobs have been secured and created in local companies thanks to the support of the Swiss Government.  This means for us stability and hope for a better future in Tajik families. In this regard, the SBI proved its high relevancy for developing SMEs in Tajikistan”, said Mr. Christoph Liechti Programme Manager, Private Sector Development, Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs.

Mr. Francesco Straniero, Attaché Operations Section of the Delegation of the European Union to Tajikistan, said: “We are happy to see that the EBRD successfully gathered all relevant parties: representatives of the government, donor agencies, international organizations, local financial institutions, business associations and SMEs for this event. The SBI is the initiative designed to complement the existing SME finance instruments in Tajikistan. Special attention should be paid to the implementation of this initiative in spite of the ongoing difficulties in the Tajik credit market.”

To date, the EBRD has invested €477 million in the SME in Kyrgyzstan and € 300 million in Tajikistan.  The Bank has also implemented more than 1,100 advisory projects in Kyrgyzstan and 700 in Tajikistan to enable SMEs to access know-how and become more competitive.