Progress updates from WLSME Kyrgyzstan

This month, the WLSME Kyrgyzstan program released a Rapid Market Assessment report to scan industry competitiveness and opportunities for women-owned small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Kyrgyzstan. The study covered four oblasts including Osh, Jalalabad, Issyk-Kul, Chui and also Bishkek city. The Rapid Market Assessment was led by ACDI/VOCA and supported by Bai Tushum Banking Group (BT Group).

The study methodology consisted of four phases:

  1. Secondary desk research was conducted by abstracting and reading recently published reports and assessments;  
  2. Selected sectors were ranked through a market ranking matrix. This was accomplished by soliciting input from 12 international and Kyrgyz market specialists and economic experts in order to determine which sectors demonstrated the most growth opportunities for women-owned SMEs; 
  3. Primary research was undertaken through a two-week field visit consisting of in-country stakeholder interviews, enterprise site visits, and focus group discussions which engaged over 50 business owners, end market stakeholders, market development specialists, Bai Tushum Banking Group staff, association representatives, and service providers; and
  4. Synthesis and analysis of findings was done and a report was written and published.

As a result, the garment, tourism and agro-processing industries were identified as priority sectors for WLSME. These sectors offer significant opportunities for women-owned SMEs, while also strengthening the competitiveness of the industry as a whole. 

On May 21-23, evaluation consultants from FHI 360 facilitated a 3-day training on research ethics in Bishkek for the WLSME program and M-Vector, a local research and consulting company based in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic. The goal of the training was to discuss the WLSME program baseline survey tools and train staff on research instrument and data collection procedures. After the training, the baseline survey tools were tested through focus group discussions and practice survey tests among women entrepreneurs in the Kyrgyz Republic to ensure cultural relevancy. The team then used the feedback from the focus groups to adjust the survey tools before the launching the baseline survey.

Overall, it is expected that 1,125 women entrepreneurs enrolled in the WLSME program will participate in the evaluation. Of this, 750 women will be in the treatment group and 375 women will be in the control group. The team took several measures to ensure the highest level of objectivity and rigor for valid results including: developing and testing the survey tools, training staff and facilitating discussion on best practices.

In comparing the results from this initial baseline survey with the results from the endline survey, the WLSME program will be able to measure success in promoting women’s leadership in the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sector. This comparison, or impact evaluation, will track our beneficiaries’ progress throughout the program by capturing changes in outcome and impact indicators. This will reveal whether or not the WLSME intervention was effective and generate valuable lessons for the development field.