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Baseline assessment of Women SMEs in Uzbekistan on digitalisation

Digitalisation – or, as some have termed it, the “fourth industrial revolution” – has the potential to transform markets and entire sectors, thereby creating new efficiencies and opportunities while simultaneously displacing other business models and roles. In Uzbekistan, the opportunities resulting from greater digitisation are rated particularly positively, not least as a reaction to the COVID-19 crisis, as using these opportunities is expected to help strengthen existing companies, open up new business and employment opportunities and contribute to greater convergence with global and regional economic development.

The EBRD contracted IPC to assess specifically the baseline conditions of women SMEs in Uzbekistan related to their uptake of digital solutions to-date, the challenges they face in adapting their enterprises to the new realities of doing business in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as pre-existing trends of digitalisation.

The IPC team undertook a quantitative analysis of the digital gender divide in Uzbekistan and a qualitative analysis of activities of donors and other institutions that address the digitalisation of SMEs (particularly Women SMEs) in Uzbekistan. Through focus group discussions, individual interviews and other field work, the team developed a deep understanding of how Women SMEs in Uzbekistan interact with digital solutions, as well as their current needs and challenges in the digital space.

Based on this, the IPC team is now developing strategic recommendations for the EBRD and a roadmap for designing and rolling out a digital-by-design advisory product suite in Uzbekistan under the auspices of the EBRD’s Central Asia Women in Business Programme and supported by the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi).

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