The Women’s Leadership in Small and Medium Enterprises (WLSME) Program

Speeches Shim

September 2012 - September 2015

Implementing Partner:

Key Partners:
Bai Tushum Banking Group

Activity Locations:
Kyrgyzstan Nationwide

Activity Goal

The Women’s Leadership in Small and Medium Enterprises (WLSME) Program in Kyrgyzstan has the ultimate objective of promoting growth of 750 women-led businesses over three years. The project is based on the development hypothesis that if women business owners had greater human capital, social capital, and access to market information, they would be more likely to grow their micro-enterprise to a size that employs at least five employees or more. (i.e., a small or medium enter-prise) Partnered with the Bai Tushum Microfinance Banking Group, the program supports female entrepreneurs by building their management capacity and providing targeted training and technical assistance to those who have the potential to grow their business.

Activity Major Focus Areas

The Women’s Leadership in Small and Medium Enterprises (WLSME) works with women entrepreneurs in garment produc-tion, tourism, and agro-processing value chains across Kyrgyz-stan. The program offers access to business management training series, including marketing, business planning, financial planning, human resource management, productivity of enter-prises, and contracts & negotiations. 750 women are further invited to participate at ongoing Business Planning Competition, where 100 women with high growth potential  will get access to tailored technical advice, technical training, exchange visits, mentorship, and micro-grants to buy down the costs of imple-menting upgrades to their businesses. The first winners were already identified and invited to the next phase activities. All women – participants of WLSME are offered the opportunity to get an access to customized credit product of Bai Tushum Bank “Woman Entrepreneur”. 

Activity Expected Impact and Accomplishments

The project delivered 5,690 person/hours of business man-agement training to 248 women entrepreneurs in all regions as of July 2014. The training was provided in Kyrgyz and Russian languages. In total up to 75 training events will be conducted for 750 women entrepreneurs until the end of the program.

All program participants after completing at least 2 business management trainings have the opportunity to participate in Business Plan Competition. Two rounds of Business Plan Competition were held in May and June 2014 and as of today 36 business plans were received and processed, and 12 of them approved for further participation at more intensive types of support (tailored technical advice and training, mentorship, exchange visits, and microgrants).

WLSME also worked towards strengthening social capital through implementing 7 networking events for 196 women en-trepreneurs in Bishkek, Karakol, Jalal-Abad, Talas regions. The program supported the Association of Light Industries “Legprom” in organizing the 8th Textile Trade Fair in March 2014 with aim to promote business linkages for women in the textile sector. 11 women entrepreneurs exhibited their products during the trade fair and more than 100 women owners of sew-ing businesses attended the event.

For women in tourism sector, the WLSME program collaborated  with the Kyrgyz Association of Tour Operators (KATO) with aim to bring 6 tour operators from Kazakhstan, Russia, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan on 23-24 May 2014 to promote knowledge about tourism opportunities, including small hotels and guest houses owned by women entrepreneurs in Issyk-kul area.