Events: Invest in Central Asia: a journey to Tajikistan

Mikro Kapital, in partnership with the Embassy of the Republic of Tajikistan in the Swiss Confederation and Imon international, promoted two events in Zurich and Geneva, respectively on September 13 and 14, entitled “Investing in Central Asia, a journey to Tajikistan “.
The aim of the conferences, which brought together representatives of the Swiss financial world interested in ESG investments in developing countries along the Silk Road, was to describe in detail the economic opportunities of Tajikistan and the reasons brought Mikro Kapital to operating in the Tajik territory. One figure above all: the Central Asian Republic has made steady progress in poverty reduction and economic growth, recording a significant decline in the poverty rate, from 83% to 26.3% between 2000 and 2021, and an average growth rate of the national economy equal to 7% per year.
The conference opened with the speech of the Ambassador of the Republic of Tajikistan to the Swiss Confederation, Mr. Jamshed Khamidov, who introduced the most recent development and investment projects in the country, including the four key objectives of the strategy of national development until 2030: food security, the guarantee of energy independence, the acceleration of industrialization and the transformation of the country into a privileged infrastructural transit corridor. The Ambassador also pictured the advantageous tax system developed by the Tajik government, which aims to encourage the attraction of investments and entrepreneurial activities in the country.
Vincenzo Trani, President of Mikro Kapital, then gave a speech focused on the company’s activity, first describing the strengths of microcredit considered as an investment – for example the low correlation with the stock markets – and then the reasons that led the Company to pay special attention to the Central Asian region. In a nutshell, the fact that micro-entrepreneurship represents the backbone of the economic systems of the area, the fact that the entrepreneurial mentality is part of the DNA of the regional populations and the real possibility of generating a positive social impact, given the nature of the microcredit of real impact investing, especially when carried out in emerging economies. The numbers outlined by President Trani prove it: of the nearly 300,000 companies that have had access to funding from Mikro Kapital, 77% involved activities in rural areas, 41% supported female-led businesses and 97% individual entrepreneurs. The focus on Tajikistan is linked to the country’s excellent growth prospects, the priority set by national authorities on attracting investments (especially ESG) and the important steps forward made to increase access to financial services. From the latter point of view, the Central Asian Republic aims to increase financial inclusion from 47% in 2017 to 65% over the next five years.
The last speech was given by Andrey Palka, CEO of Imon International, who focused on the description of the Tajik entrepreneurial reality, where micro, small and medium-sized enterprises are the key to success and an important role is managed by female entrepreneurs. There is no shortage of data to support this view: in 2022, for example, according to the World Bank’s “Women, Business and Law” index, Tajikistan occupies the 71st position worldwide out of 187 countries examined by the index itself. Not only that, 45% of the Tajik workforce is represented by women. Palka also described the EBRD project, “Women in Business”, in which Imon has participated since 2017 and which provides 360 ° support to local female entrepreneurs. In 2022, Imon issued loans in Tajikistan for a total amount of 99 million euros, 36 million of which in favor of women. At the end of his speech, Andrey Palka shared with the participants the video testimony of an entrepreneur who owns a pastry shop in Khujand, an important center in the northern part of Tajikistan, beneficiary of a micro credit granted by Imon International. After years of dedication, the shop has become one of the most important in the city and the company currently employs more than 20 people, most of whom are women. Given the great demand from the local population for pastry products, made of only natural ingredients, there are several ambitious projects to further development of the activity.