Promoting Women in Business in Tajikistan
With the aim of improving access to finance for women-led businesses in Tajikistan and thus promoting a strong women-led MSME sector in the country, the EBRD established the Tajikistan Women in Business (WiB) Programme. The programme objectives were to:
- support women-led MSMEs in accessing finance for their sustainable growth;
- develop and introduce sustainable credit mechanisms better adapted to women-led MSMEs; and
- support women-led MSMEs in accessing know-how, non-financial business development services and networking opportunities.
A consortium of Sparkassenstiftung für internationale Kooperation and IPC was contracted to provide technical assistance services to EBRD partner banks, MFIs and women-led MSMEs in Tajikistan.
Consortium experts designed and launched tailor-made technical support packages for five local financial institutions (FIs) participating in the programme. The work of consortium experts allowed the FIs to better identify and understand the determinants of the gender-financing gap in their portfolios, enabling them subsequently to develop new products, processes and practices to better serve woman-led MSMEs.
As a result, FIs adopted new lending practices and business models that were more inclusive and gender-responsive. Moreover, FI customer databases and management information systems (MIS) were upgraded, allowing for the tracking of gender-disaggregated data and giving FIs a deeper understanding of their clientele, including women-led MSMEs. Consortium experts also organised and led Women in Business (WiB) seminars and events, providing women entrepreneurs with access to business advice and networking.
The EBRD WiB Programme was successful in providing women in Tajikistan with better access to both finance and business advice. By the end of 2019, over 14,400 loans to women-led MSMEs were disbursed (USD 30 million). Additionally, by the end of 2019, the five participating WiB FIs had organised and conducted eleven Women in Business seminars and 44 events, with over 1,000 women entrepreneurs participating and receiving training and coaching. Over 1,000 women entrepreneurs completed Business Lens profiles, utilising a proven online self-assessment tool to gain additional insight on their businesses.
The WiB Programme demonstrated to the market that meeting the needs of women-led MSMEs was not only profitable, but also scalable and replicable. In doing this, the WiB Programme has contributed towards poverty reduction, job creation and the economic empowerment of women in Tajikistan.
Based on the success of this project, in early 2020 the consortium was tasked with rolling out the EBRD WiB Programme to other countries in the region, including Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.