The Women Entrepreneurship Development Center Enables Kazakh Nationals to Change Their Lives for the Better

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB)-financed Women Entrepreneurship Development Center in Almaty offers customized support programs for women-owned small and medium-sized firms (SMEs), which account for around 43% of all SMEs in Kazakhstan, according to the bank’s press department.

The project, which opens in October 2021, provides networking opportunities, mentoring, and individualized training. Staffed exclusively by women, the center assists in meeting the particular requirements of female entrepreneurs.

Launched in 2021, the Almaty branch was one of three trial projects. The program, which was initially conducted within Atameken, Kazakhstan’s National Chamber of Entrepreneurs, has since grown to encompass 20 locations throughout the country.

By 2025, the center hopes to have trained over 15,000 women entrepreneurs nationwide and built their capability. To date, it has given networking and training opportunities to about 7,000 women across Kazakhstan.

The 37-year-old inhabitant of Almaty, Kamila, had originally planned to become a psychologist, but she chose to put her profession on wait in order to focus on raising her three children. Once her kids were a little older and she had been a devoted mother for eight years, she decided to establish an upcycling business from the ground up.

Kamila’s love of the outdoors and upcycling served as the inspiration for her first business venture. She had a wonderful gift for creating one-of-a-kind items out of abandoned garments. She began by experimenting with many imaginative concepts, like turning a big skirt into a stunning outfit. Seeing an opportunity in the upcycling market, she concentrated on making environmentally friendly shopping bags.
“In August 2021, I opened the upcycling studio, but the costs outpaced the revenue. To comprehend what I was doing incorrectly, I needed to increase my business understanding,” she remarked.
She started searching for ways to expand her understanding of managing a firm, and that’s how she came upon Almaty’s Women Entrepreneurship Development Center.

Kamila’s clientele and revenue both increased with the center’s assistance.

“They directed me to contact corporate clients during one-on-one meetings with a mentor. I revised the financial business model and went to corporate clients after reevaluating all the knowledge I had acquired. It’s now turning a profit,” she stated.

She gained knowledge on how to create reliable financial models and successful marketing plans, like pushing her Instagram profile and building a strong online presence. She increased her financial choices by learning how to apply for grants more effectively.

Kamila gained useful knowledge from the programs in addition to a caring community. She got the chance to network and meet other would-be business owners, establishing a forum for the exchange of ideas and experiences.

She has also started a new felt product line that includes boxes, pillows, and purses with a distinctive Kazakh national design that are intended especially for weddings.

The Kazakh government, impressed by the results of the ADB-funded centers, has opted to subsidize these initiatives going forward from its national budget. Approximately $6 million was granted in December 2022 for the next three years.

For Asia and the Pacific to be robust and inclusive, gender equality is essential. To help eliminate the gender pay gap, we need to increase women’s access to high-quality, well-paying jobs and support their entrepreneurship. ADB Country Director for Kazakhstan Nariman Mannapbekov stated, “We are committed to investing in women as agents of change, and Kamila’s experience shows what is possible when that is done in a targeted way.”

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