Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in Central Asia are facing a challenging business environment. The Central Asia Invest Programme, launched in 2007, aims to support them and promote the development of the private sector. It does so by reinforcing the role and the competences of Central Asian Business Intermediary Organisations (BIO), increasing their capacity to support MSMEs and to influence policies in favour of micro and small scale companies. In addition to this work, the OECD Policy Component of the Programme develops macro level policy advice and helps Central Asian governments address barriers to competitiveness.
Thanks to the programme, which has been in place since 2007, 34 projects, for a total amount of 23 Million Euros, have been successfully funded and implemented jointly by business intermediary organisations from EU Member States and Central Asia. Over 60 business intermediary organisations enhanced their competences in supporting micro and small and medium sized enterprises thus contributing to improve the business climate and foster regional integration.
In 2020, seven new projects were financed. Mobilizing the private sector and enabling private actors to have better access to finance, enhancing entrepreneurial skills of young people and job seekers, unlocking business potentials in still not sufficiently ‘exploited’ sectors such as tourism, introducing green solutions along the whole value-chains in more traditional sectors, promoting the digitalisation of the economy. These elements will be covered by the new projects. They can contribute via a bottom-up approach to improve the business climate and create an environment more conducive to investments.
Business Intermediary Organisations (BIOs)
What is a Business Intermediary Organisation (BIO)? It is a public or private sector operator representing SMEs. It could be a chamber of commerce, regulatory body promoting trade, investment or commercial activity, sector-specific trade, industrial and professional association (including local associations of European businesses), an employers’ federation or agency promoting trade, investment and commercial activities, non-governmental organisation, or a sector-based agency concerned with working with SMEs.
What is the role of a BIO? BIOs help SMEs in developing their technical and business capacity, accompany them in grabbing new opportunities or entering foreign markets, advocate on their behalf to ensure that the policy environment are supportive of SME’s and the business sector, and much more.