EBRD continues support for SMEs in Kazakhstan with consulting subsidies

29 March 2018 Consultancy.asia 3 min. read

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development will extend its management consulting subsidy and support programme for small and medium-sized enterprises in Kazakhstan over the coming year, with the organisation signaling a special focus on promoting the country’s female entrepreneurs.

Under the EBRD’s development programme, Kazakh SMEs can receive subsidies to cover up to 50 percent of the cost of local or foreign management consultancy services to a maximum of 10,000 euros, gaining valuable professional advice in areas such as strategic planning, marketing, process and financial management, information technology, and accounting.

As reported by the Astana Times, the EBRD said in its meeting last month with Kazakhstan’s Deputy Minister of National Economy and a range of programme stakeholders, including private contributors Shell Kazakhstan and Tengizchevroil, that 177 such subsidy grants were issued to SMEs in Kazakhstan for 2017, with an approximate 280 support projects in the pipeline for the coming year. Altogether, 1,300 entities have benefited from the scheme since 2001.

“In 2017, 177 SMEs were provided with consulting services, 154 of which were advised by local consultants and 23 were consulted by industry experts,” the ERBD’s SME support programme manager Anar Kassymova stated, adding that last year’s recipients represented a range of industries including the machinery, agribusiness, FMCG, textile, fashion and metalworking sectors.Development bank continues to support SMEs in KazakhstanKassymova further noted the growth of the local consulting landscape – which in just four years more than doubled from the 207 firms in 2013 to a total of 477 last year – with such growth in Kazakhstan’s consulting sector being validated somewhat by the country’s selection as the host of last year’s annual International Council of Management Consulting Institutes conference, with delegates in attendance from 33 countries.

Among the burgeoning number of consulting outfits active in the country are a host of familiar names, including the Big Four quartet of KPMG, EYDeloitte and PwC, as well as the big-time strategy agencies The Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey & Company – the latter of which has previously suggested that Kazakhstan could become a global economic center by 2050 if its potential is effectively managed.

Women in Business

In addition to its regular SMEs development programme, the EBRD has also introduced a special ‘Women in Business’ initiative to support local female entrepreneurs with consulting and personal guidance. “In 2017, 62 entities managed by females were supported. Moreover, our mentorship programme received positive feedback. To illustrate, 28 pairs participated in the programme in 2017; however, this year we received 150 applications and will make 50 pairs of mentors and mentees,” Kassymova said.

According to Kazakhstan’s Deputy Minister of National Economy Serik Zhumangarin, 45 percent of the nation’s 1,165,000 active enterprises are currently led by women. The EBRD, however, doesn’t plan to rest on its laurels, with Holger Wiefel, EBRD Associate Director and head of its regional SME programme for Kazakhstan and Mongolia, saying the organisation intends to go even further;

“We plan to launch the ‘Fast Track Women’ initiative to accelerate the development of entities led by females, but will focus on a small amount initially. Moreover, we want to work with microcompanies in the regions, develop dairy companies and continue working on logistics, machinery and light industry. In total, around 280 projects are planned for 2018,” Wiefel said.