Women’s Leadership in Small and Medium Enterprises Program in Kyrgyzstan

Providing Training and Technical Assistance to Support Female Entrepreneurs

The Women’s Leadership in Small and Medium Enterprises (WLSME) project built the human, social, and financial capital of growth-oriented female entrepreneurs in the garments, tourism, and agroprocessing industries of Kyrgyzstan. The program was part of a broader, global initiative by USAID to understand the factors that lead to the growth of women-owned SMEs, with similar programs implemented in Peru and India. To advance the field through evidence-based findings, the WLSME projects had a rigorous research agenda, used randomized control trials, an independent third-party evaluation with endline evaluations conducted up to two years after interventions close, and a robust learning community between the programs.

ACDI/VOCA was the lead implementer of the three-year WLSME Kyrgyzstan program, with support from subs Bai Tushum Bank Innovative Fund and several local, community-based nonprofit organizations.


Reduce the barriers to human capital, social capital, and information that limit the growth of women’s enterprises

Activities and Approaches

  • Through a graduated level of intensity in support, the multistage intervention provided participants with
    • Stage 1: a foundational, multimodule business management course
    • Stage 2: a series of networking and social capital building events
    • Stage 3: for a subset of participants—identified as having high-growth potential through a business plan competition—more intensive technical assistance (e.g., consultancy, group technical trainings, exchange visits, micro-grants, mentoring, etc.)
  • Facilitated participants’ access to an SME loan at a preferential interest rate

Project Results

  • 620 women completed the business management training package
  • More than 400 women engaged in networking, mentoring, and industry linkages events and programs
  • 100 women entrepreneurs were selected in the business planning competition, from a pool of over 300 applicants, and received specialized technical assistance
  • Five how-to brochures produced on business registration, taxation, social fund payments, patents, and tax inspection visits

Funder: Women’s Leadership in Small and Medium Enterprises (WLSME)
Contact: Rebekah Bakewicz, rbakewicz@acdivoca.org
Updated: 10/15