Promoting women entrepreneurship in Uzbekistan

Jul 3, 2017

Over the last 15 years, Ms. Nilufar Adilbabaeva has not only run ‘Adel Tex’ textile company, but has also advised women who intend to start their own business. Over the years, she experienced and has overcome different challenges a woman entrepreneur faces.  These days, Nilufar and more than 100 women entrepreneurs from all over Uzbekistan attended the first Republican Forum of Business Women held in Tashkent.

The Forum provided platform to discuss existing opportunities for the development of women’s entrepreneurship, to share problems and find possible solutions. Several businesses agreed formally on further cooperation.

“My work experience proves that it is highly important for women in Uzbekistan to have support- psychological, informational and financial. Many entrepreneurs lack of knowledge and learn about changes in taxation, for example, only after paying a certain fine,” said Nilufar.

21-year-old Ms. Gulrukh Irgasheva, who has been running the private enterprise ‘Taxmina’ in the Tashkent region for the last three years, noticed that many women, having registered a company, do not have the skills and knowledge to further develop their business.

 “I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs, and my parents supported me on the early stages of business creation. Having graduated from a college, I received a loan of 100 million soums to reconstruct the premises and started my business,” told Gulrukh.

“However, many women starting their business need informational support. In this case, it would be helpful to establish special consulting centers where specialists would guide women on how to establish and operate an enterprise.”

Experts from international organizations shared recommendations from women entrepreneurs by highlighting international experience in tackling issue of women's entrepreneurship.

UNDP and CCI ‘Business Forum of Uzbekistan (Phase III)’ project’s specialist highlighted an important aspect of financial support for women's entrepreneurship, showcasing how banks can benefit from cooperation with women.

It was noted that women’s entrepreneurship is an untapped market for the financial sector. For example, in Turkey, from 40% of registered women’s enterprises less than 15% use commercial banks’ services.

To establish successful and long-term cooperation with this target group, banks   should familiarise people with existing banking services, keep them informed on changes in legislation. For example, implementation of the business programme to support women’s entrepreneurship by the Royal Bank of Scotland within three years improved female entrepreneurship – women owned 40% of the new small and medium enterprises (2011 year).

At the same time, banks also benefit from cooperation with women entrepreneurs. According to the research, women entrepreneurs are less likely to default on their loans, are more responsible in payments, and they tend to make savings. Their loyalty to the bank is manifested in a tendency to take more loans and bring new customers to the bank.

In addition, the project specialist presented best banking proposals to attract women entrepreneurs. Among them are flexible norms of loan collateral, modernization of technologies (introduction of online services), provision of group and individual loans for various business, creation of incentives for women entrepreneurs (establishment of the ‘Entrepreneur of the Yea’ award) and others.

To date, according to  the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Uzbekistan, the total number of businesswomen is about 52 thousand, or 10% of all business entities.

To engage more women in entrepreneurship, the ‘Business Forum of Uzbekistan (Phase-III)’ project plans to develop a programme of measures to improve women’s conditions by enabling them to start a business. The programme will include trainings, elaboration and dissemination of business models for businesswomen in rural areas, provision of standard business plans, creation of opportunities for obtaining bank loans by pledging movable property.