Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan—Enterprise and Innovation Programme (EIP)

Client: Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office

Duration: 2019-2023

Region: Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Country: Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan

Solutions: Economic Growth

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have a relatively short history of “restrained capitalism” and budding entrepreneurial culture. Shadows of the former Communist system are still evident in many areas, and frail rule of law gives way to corruption and weak property rights, undermining private sector investment and business growth. As of 2018, 27 percent of Kyrgyzstan’s population and 30 percent of Tajikistan’s population still live below the national poverty line. Both countries’ economies have been adversely affected by internal and external shocks, including the economic downturn in Russia. Excessive reliance on remittances, lack of economic diversity, and the slow pace of reform threaten growth. It is in the United Kingdom’s interests that these fragile states and regions are supported to be successful, prosperous, and stable.

The Enterprise and Innovation Programme (EIP) supports inclusive and sustainable economic growth in the countries, principally through the creation of business and innovation centers, the strengthening of company-investor linkages, the provision of market-making activities, and the improvement of the business advisory infrastructure. EIP is the UK Government’s new instrument to promote a stronger, diversified, and inclusive private sector, leading to prosperity and stability in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan by increasing innovation and growth in startups and micro-, small-, and medium-sized companies (MSMEs) through the establishment of business and innovation centers and the improvement of the business advisory infrastructure.

By focusing on supporting inclusive and sustainable economic growth in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, EIP works in key business sectors that have the potential to be transformative to the countries’ economies and are well-positioned to generate new jobs, increase household incomes, or create new economic opportunities for the poor and near-poor, women and youth, and disadvantaged communities. Working in tandem with its sister program, the DAI-implemented Policy Innovation Facility, EIP brings about positive and impactful improvements in the ways the business sector operates at present, and will expand the horizons of economic opportunity, by being pro-poor, conducive to women’s and minorities’ economic empowerment, politically aware, and sensitive to the country context, conflict, and business environment.

Talks with tech startups of Kyrgyzstan.jpg

Sample Activities

  • Launch business and innovation centers in Dushanbe and Bishkek.
  • Create an online incubation technology platform.
  • Map business advisory service providers and provide tailored capacity building based on training needs assessments.
  • Facilitate direct market linkages to mobilize key actors and stimulate demand among MSMEs for business advisory services.

Select Results

  • Four ‘PEAK’ centers have been opened across Kyrgyzstan (Karakol, Osh, and Bishkek) and Tajikistan (Dushanbe). PEAK centers support start-ups and micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) by providing business and entrepreneurship mentoring, training, accelerator programs, access to investors, education, and skills workshops.
  • 585 graduate start-ups and MSMEs (398 in Kyrgyzstan, 187 in Tajikistan) have gone through EIP programs. Graduate businesses include coding and programmer centers; supply and procurement services; advertising companies; re-cycled manufacturers; hotels; branding providers, and much more.
  • PEAK graduates have had the opportunity to pitch their start-up and MSME ideas to investors in order to acquire funding. In Kyrgyzstan alone, £252,456 worth of investments has been granted to the graduates.
  • An alumni network has been built to help ensure graduates can retain networking and collaboration opportunities after completion of the various programs that EIP offers. In Kyrgyzstan, more than 120 graduates attended 2 Alumni Club Meetings; and in Tajikistan, over 60 PEAK graduates participated in the PEAK Alumni Club Summit in Dushanbe.
  • 57 women have participated in two Tajikistan women entrepreneurship pre-acceleration programs during 2021-22. Several of these women have applied for further grants to develop their MSMEs.
  • 88 women in Kyrgyzstan participated in PEAK’s women entrepreneurship pre-acceleration and acceleration programs.
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