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Event in Milan: Invest in Central Asia, a Journey to Tajikistan

On 25 January in Milan, Mikro Kapital and the Embassy of the Republic of Tajikistan brought together the financial and business community at the event ‘Investing in Central Asia, a journey to Tajikistan‘. The conference was an opportunity to present Tajikistan, a country that is still off the radar of European investors, but which is characterized by great opportunities in terms of economic growth and ESG investments and where women micro-entrepreneurs play a key role in the economic environment.

The session was opened by Tajikistan’s Ambassador to France and Italy, Jamoliddin Ubaidullo, who described the country’s steady progress in reducing the poverty rate – which fell from 83% to 26.3% between 2000 and 2021 – and in economic growth – with the national economy growing at an average rate of 7% per year. The subject of his speech was also the four key objectives of Tajikistan’s national development strategy up to 2030: food security, ensuring energy independence, accelerating industrialization and transforming Tajikistan into a privileged infrastructure transit corridor. The diplomatic representative of the Central Asian republic also described the efforts and beneficial systems introduced by the Tajik government, which aims to foster the attraction of investment and business activities in the country.

Vincenzo Trani, president of Mikro Kapital, focused on the strengths of microcredit – e.g., the low correlation with the stock markets – and the reasons why Mikro Kapital pays special attention to the Central Asian region. In a nutshell, the fact that micro-entrepreneurship is the backbone of the region’s economic systems, the fact that the entrepreneurial mentality is part of the DNA of the regional populations, and the concrete possibility of generating a positive social impact, given the nature of microcredit as true impact investing, especially when implemented in emerging economies. The focus on Tajikistan is linked to the country’s excellent growth prospects, the priority set by the national authorities on ESG investments, and the important steps taken to increase access to financial services.

The speech by Andrey Palka, CEO of Imon International, focused on the description of the Tajik entrepreneurial context, where micro, small and medium-sized enterprises are the key to success and an important role is played by women entrepreneurs. There is no shortage of data to support this thesis: in 2022, for example, according to the World Bank’s ‘Women, Business and Law’ index, Tajikistan ranks 71st in the world out of 187 countries surveyed by the index. Not only that, 45% of the Tajik workforce are women. Palka also described the EBRD’s project, ‘Women in Business’, in which Imon has been participating since 2017 and which provides support and training to local women entrepreneurs.

The final speech was instead given by Webuild, which described the company’s activity in Tajikistan for the construction of the Rogun Dam, which once completed will be the highest in the world, a fundamental work to fully exploit the country’s extraordinary hydroelectric potential.

Here you can download the presentation given during the event.

Milan - January 25th, 2023