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BOOST Project Details

What is BOOST?

European Union and Central Asia Invest V project “BOOST” - "Businesses and Organisations in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan operate sustainably" started in February 2020. It is being implemented by German non-profit development organization SEQUA gGmbH. Project "BOOST" is dedicated to support entrepreneurs in Uzbekistan's Ferghana Valley region and Southern regions of Kyrgyzstan. The project is planned to last for 36 months after which the work will be continued by local Business Associations. SEQUA gGmbH, which is based in Bonn, Germany, is hosted in Central Asia by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Kyrgyzstan and supported by the Belgian Chamber of Commerce: Antwerp-Waasland (VOKA). The success of the project is rooted in the concept of teaching local business associations to service the needs of their local member companies. The project focuses specifically on the areas of energy efficiency, quality certifications, raising standards of goods for export, and job creation. The target region for the project is the area of the Fergana Valley, which includes southern Kyrgyzstan and the adjacent Eastern Uzbekistan.

BIOs (Business Associations)

The main task of Project "BOOST" is to strengthen Business Intermediary Organisations (BIOs) in their capacity to offer services to their member companies. More specifically, we work in the area of improving energy efficiency, increasing product quality certification, raising production standards, and creating jobs in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.
The project aims to improve BIOs services that will lead to higher income from services offered to member businesses, as well as improving the competency of their staff, which will increase their work capacity and ultimately increase demand for new memberships. Offering new services such as energy audits, product certification, and assistance finding access to markets will help BIOs to better represent the interests of its members, and of the private sector as its whole.
Project "BOOST" works as part of a consortium including the Kyrgyz and Belgian Chambers of Commerce, the Uzbekistan Textile and Garment Association, and other co-partners to create a sustainable infrastructure that will continue to improve the services BIOs can offer to their members, thus ensuring stable income from membership and service fees.

Entrepreneurs

Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) account for a significant part of national GDP in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, and create considerable amount of jobs. MSMEs in both countries require increased access to contermporary business practices and training in the use of modern technology in order to be able to compete in the international market, as well as give them an edge locally. In order to reach EU markets, Central Asian MSMEs are required to show that they are using energy and other resources efficiently, as well as provide proper product certification and documentation. Business practices in the areas of energy efficiency and quality standards will be improved by the "BOOST" Projects' training and coaching methods, and will provide greater market access to the Textile industry in Uzbekistan and participating MSMEs in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Meanwhile, MSMEs and entrepreneurs in the agri-food processing sector, mainly in Kyrgyzstan, will also receive relevant training in those areas and thus also boosting their competitiveness. Throughout the project energy audits will be used identify measures to improve energy efficiency and how investment is required for selected MSMEs to make this happen. Experts will help entrepreneurs to formulate plans for greater resource efficiency and will help to promote eco-innovation. In addition, training on market access principals will help to create products that fit global market requirements and quality standards which will further improve their competitiveness. In order to better assist MSMEs, local BIOs will receive training and tools to better prepare entrepreneurs in how to find access to financing for their businesses.

Job Seekers

The Uzbek and Kyrgyz job markets are very competitive. Project "BOOST" will be supporting young people in their career search and provide trainings to enable start-up businesses as well. In fact, both job seekers and start-ups are often young people which makes them a key asset in the regional competitiveness of the private sector.
The project will also promote gender equality. Trainings will be given to a balanced mixture of male and female entrepreneurs and job seekers. During the project, job seekers will be further empowered to overcome unemployment by learning marketable skills relevant to their region. We expect that around several hundred job seekers will be trained in both countries to be more qualified for the jobs they are looking for and be equipped with relevant business knowledge.

Team

Managers

Jürgen Mähler

BOOST Project Director

Project Director of the BOOST project, is responsible for the technical backstopping of the project. Mr Mähler holds a diploma (≈M.Sc.) in Regional Studies of Latin America and a diploma (≈M.Sc.) in Eco-nomics from the University of Cologne. He has been working for more than 20 years mainly as project manager of large-scale Technical Assistance projects in the fields of Technical Vocational Education and Training, Private Sector Development (incl. Green Economy and Innovation) with a current focus on the meso-level (i.e. chambers and business associations). His donor experience spans from the EU to World bank and ICF to bilateral donors such as GIZ and KfW. Within this framework, he has acquired extensive expertise in project management covering expert recruitment, the co-ordination of multi-national expert teams, monitoring and quality management of projects as well as procurement. Addi-tionally, he has worked as consultant for Human Resources and Innovation-related subjects. Mr Mähler is now leading the consultancy unit of sequa. He is fluent in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian and has a good basic knowledge of Russian.

Christian Gessl

BOOST Project Team Leader

Christian Gessl is studied management at the University of Innsbruck. He opened a computer company in Innsbruck during his studies. He worked for over 25 years for the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber in Vienna and as Trade Delegate in South Korea, the Russian Federation, Belgium, Ukraine, and Spain promoting Austrian export and economic cooperation between Austria and the target countries. Since 2015 he worked in different projects like East Invest 1 and 2, SMEDA and as an advisor to the Governor of the ATU Gagauzia (Republic of Moldova). In 2020 he joined Sequa and is the team leader in the Project “BOOST – Businesses and Organisations in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan operate sustainably”. He speaks German, English, French, Spanish and Russian.

Gabriele Höflinger

Controller of the project

Gabriele Höflinger is in charge of contractual, financial and accounting issues at sequa headquarter in Bonn / Germany and offers continuous administrative support to the team in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyz-stan. She holds a degree in economics and has 21 years of professional experience in controlling, finan-cial and contractual management. During the last 16 years of her career at Mrs. Höflinger has special-ised in EU and other donor regulations and procedures and the overall financial management of donor financed project activities. In addition, she offers profound knowledge in the financial monitoring and evaluation of EU financed projects (Grant and service contracts). She is specialised in financial project monitoring and co-ordination, providing also input to and fulfilment of reporting requirements.

Kerez Kashkaeva

Project Coordinator Kyrgyzstan

Kerez Kashkaeva is studied Economics, Ecology and Management at the University of Bishkek and she got the Master of Business Administration degree. She worked for over 7 years in leading commercial banks in Kyrgyzstan, as well as more than 5 years in the leading telecommunication companies of Kyrgyzstan. During her work with these companies, she has made a significant contribution to the development of retail sales throughout the country, and particularly in the southern regions of the country. Since 2019, she joined ololo group and manages co-working space in Osh. In 2020, she joined Sequa and is the short-term expert in the Project “BOOST – Businesses and Organisations in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan operate sustainably”. She speaks English, Kyrgyz and Russian.

Project Managers

Elmira Bataeva

National Project Manager

Elmira performs a coordinating role between the project partners and regional managers in g.g. Osh, Batken, Jalal Abad, is involved in project activities. In the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Kyrgyz Republic, he is the head of the Department of External Economic Relations (OECS). As the head of the leading department of the Chamber, coordinates the establishment and development of external economic and partnership relations of
the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Kyrgyz Republic with the chambers of commerce and industry of foreign countries, business associations and international organizations, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kyrgyz Republic and the Kyrgyz Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs are responsible for the implementation of international projects. Coordinates the activities of the Business Councils of the CCI with foreign countries, the work of the representatives of the CCI of the KR in foreign countries, through the Business Council of the SCO, the CCI of the ECO, the Kyrgyz-Turkish Chamber Forum, the Islamic CCP, the CCP of the Turkic-speaking countries; as well as
cooperation with international organizations, etc.

Aizhan Kaiypova

Project Manager Jalal-Abad

Aizhan Kaiypova, a project manager of the BOOST project, is responsible for project coordination and management in the Jalal-Abad region of the Kyrgyz republic. Her duties are coordination of the ToT (Training for Trainers) and Training for job seekers and potential entrepreneurs, and also managing and coordinating activities related to Access to the Market. By studying, living, and working abroad and in the Kyrgyz Republic, she has acquired skills and experience in project management, digital marketing, and accounting.
Aizhan Kaiypova holds a degree (BSc) in Business Management (course work included economics and international trade) from the Istanbul Sehir University. Also, she holds a degree (MSc) in Economics in the major of International Trade from the University of Science and Technology Beijing. She acquired her accounting skills and experience by working as an assistant accountant for a year in Bishkek Services in the Kyrgyz Republic. And before joining
the BOOST Project, Aizhan Kaiypova was working in Digital Marketing department of Lenovo Group Limited in Beijing where she was also responsible for managing projects. During her time in Lenovo she also held several internal trainings for employees. As a person who is passionate about project management, agriculture, and trade, she is very excited and honored to work for this project.

Expert Trainers

Jill Suetens

Project Manager at VOKA

Jill Suetens holds a master degree in Germanic Philology from the University of Leuven, combined with an Erasmus exchange-program at the University of Oxford. She spent all her summer holidays as a child in Spain. Immediately after her studies, she worked for two Embassies in Brussels at commercial sections; namely the UK and the US. At the latter she won the “rookie of the year” award for her support to US companies. During this time, she also won a Rotary-scholarship to travel through Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei for an economic study program. She also worked for the Flemish Government as Commercial Counselor. Jill has been working enthusiastically as manager of the International Department for Voka - Chamber of Commerce in Antwerp-Waasland now for 13 years. Overall goal of the department is to support Flemish companies in their export endeavors, as well as welcome international delegations to the Chamber and attract investments – in short to create international synergies to the benefit of all.

Nadia Werkers

Trainer/Expert

Nadia Werkers graduated as a Master in Industrial Product Design in Antwerp. She headed for several years an R&D department at Henkel, a multinational soaping company. Next to that, Nadia was an internal ISO auditor for the Henkel production plant in Belgium and the Benelux offices. Nadia was responsible for the datamanagement of a pilot on Human Health and Environmental Risk Assessment. This initiative was ran by ‘the big soapers’ (Henkel, P&G, Unilever, Colgate Palmolive, Reckitt Benkiser...) in collaboration with the chemical council Cefic in preparation of the European Legislation on chemicals safety (REACH). Next to that Nadia has been assisting over a dozen SME’s to develop their innovation strategy. Currently, Nadia is responsible for the Antwerp CCI’s Industry department and the EFQM quality assurance of the Chamber. Nadia has a broad network of multinational company executives and wrote two management books on competitivity of production plants.

Luc Van Looveren

Trainer/Expert

Luc Van Looveren holds a master in applied economic sciences. He has been working for the Chamber of Commerce in Antwerp for more than 30 years. At the International Department he offers as a Senior Advisor EU relations information and advice to exporters and importers. He has been involved in many international capacity building projects focusing on exporting products to the European Union. In 2018 he received from the European Training Foundation (ETF) in Turin a Good Practice in Training Award for trainings in the field of internationalization of SMEs. This Award was offered for his training and tool for launching services for SMEs on identifying relevant EU market access rules for agri-food products.

Sven de Vocht

Trainer/Expert

Sven de Vocht has been working for the Antwerp-Waasland Chamber of Commerce for almost 20 years now! As director of services and entrepreneurship, he is responsible for the services towards startups and sme’s to help them succeed in a globalizing economy. Sven is also an associate professor at the Antwerp Management School and one of the Antwerp University Colleges, where he teaches several courses on entrepreneurship. He has been coaching startups since 2005, with a strong focus on ideation and value proposition design.

BOOST Partners

Consortia Partners

The Consortia Partners are the main companies and associations involved in the management and implementation of the project - organizing and giving trainings, creating training materials and infrastructure, finding interested BIOs to take part in the Project, etc...

Sequa (Consortia Lead Partner)

SEQUA gGmbH is the EU’s leading agency for strengthening business membership organizations. Its shareholders are Germany‘s top business membership organizations, including leading German institution GIZ. SEQUA gGmbH has managed around 1,000 projects in more than 100 developing countries in the areas of business membership organization capacity building, vocational training, private sector promotion and social dialogue. In addition, sequa has designed and implemented more than 90 EU financed projects such as the action under the Central Asia Invest IV call, Networking Intermediaries & Competitive Enterprises in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan (NICE-TAK). In Central Asia SEQUA gGmbH has a long track record of technical assistance projects, such as the Capacity Building of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Uzbekistan and Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Kyrgyzstan.

VOKA (Chamber of Commerce: Antwerp-Waasland)

Belgian "VOKA"-Chamber of Commerce and Industry Antwerp-Waasland is a private, independent employers’ association that covers multiple sectors. VOKA CCI AW contributes to economic development of its region by lobbying, networking and offering specific services to businesses. The Chamber unites more than 3,000 corporate members. Its members operate in a variety of sectors. Their size varies from young SMEs to well-established multinationals. There are 6 regional Voka – CCIs in Flanders. Together, with the Voka – Flemish Employers Association, these Chambers from the Voka alliance unite more than 18,000 businesses from all sectors in the Flemish region. VOKA CCI AW has more than 25 years of experience in running EU funded projects. In recent years, many of these projects related to trainings in Eastern and Southern neighbourhood countries in fields as: EU market access rules, e.g. for agri-food products, and setting- up of learning SME networks for stimulating entrepreneurship.

CCI K (Chamber of Commerce Kyrgyzstan)

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Kyrgyzstan (CCI K) is the largest and leading business organization in Kyrgyzstan, uniting all business associations, enterprises of various directions, representatives of SMEs, etc. The CCIK assists in the promotion of products for export, holds exhibitions and fairs in Kyrgyzstan and abroad, holds training courses for entrepreneurs. The CCIK cooperates with many international organizations, has more than 70 agreements on cooperation with the CCIK of foreign countries, actively cooperates with many international organizations and has experience in various international projects such as Central Asia Invest, IPD, UNDP, OECD, USAID. The CCIK is a non-governmental organization that carries out its activities in order to promote the development of the economy of the Kyrgyz Republic, its integration into the global economic system, the formation of a modern infrastructure of market relations, the creation of favourable conditions for foreign economic activity, the promotion of the export of goods and services, and the widespread expansion trade-economic and scientific-technical relations of the Kyrgyz Republic with other countries. The CCIK has its representative offices in all regions of the country, actively cooperates with representatives of ministries and departments, including local authorities in the regions, and this allows us to provide maximum assistance in resolving issues of development of small and medium-sized businesses in the country.

UTGA (Uzbekistan Textile and Garment Association)

Uzbekistan Textile and Garment Association was established by the Presidential Decree No. UP-5285 of 14.12.2017. All enterprises and organizations of the textile industry can be members of the Association ""Uztekstilprom"", while JSC "Uzbekengilsanoat" comprised only 436 organizations (6% of the total number of enterprises of the textile industry). Association is a voluntary association of organizations. The members of the association retain their independence and rights of the legal entity. In turn, the abolished joint-stock company was connected with the participating in its structure organizations in the charter capital, which affected the volume of rights and the amount of profit. Now the members of the association are charged with the obligation of its current content and financing of activities in the form of contributions and deductions. However, contributions and deductions to the Uztekstilprom Association are excluded from the taxable base of the member companies of the Association.

Enterprises - members of the Association ""Uztekstilprom"" until 01/01/2021 are exempt from payment of customs payments (except customs clearance fees) for imported cotton, artificial and synthetic fibres, wool, raw materials and other materials necessary for the production of textile products and not produced in the republic (according to approved lists). Fourth, Uztekstilprom Association is granted the right to sue in the interests of its members, to appeal against decisions of state bodies and other organizations, actions (inaction) of their officials in court without payment of state duty. Fifth, the products of the textile industry enterprises - members of the Association ""Uztekstilprom"" are exported with a single marking ""Uztextile"". As of April 1, 2020, there are 1,838 industrial enterprises operating in the system of the Uztekstilprom Association (UTGA), of which 20% are textile enterprises and 80% are enterprises of the sewing and knitting industry. While 29 companies are large enterprises over 1,700 enterprises classified as small and private businesses. The Association's enterprises also produce other products of a wide range and assortment of a specific profile, including medical goods, non-woven materials, satisfying the need for cotton products, special work clothes, terry products, and also provide for the development and implementation of a new generation of products - new innovative products.

Implementing Partners

Implementing Partners include all Consortia Partners (above), as well as other associations which are helping with implementation of the project, but in a less official capacity. These are listed below.

Youth Union of Uzbekistan

"Uzbekistan Youth Union" is a very efficient organization with a very strong presence in every corner of Uzbekistan. Since young population of the country is overwhelmingly vast and unemployment is high, Youth Union plays a crucial role in business education and start up facilitation programs especially in overpopulated Ferghana Valley. Uzbekistan Youth Union is a non-profit non-governmental organization formed by individuals in its organizational and legal form as a union that unites the youth of Uzbekistan in order to form a physically healthy, spiritually mature and intellectually developed, free-thinking young generation; protection of young people from external threats and negative influence of ""mass culture""; providing comprehensive support for the protection of the legal and legal interests of young people and creating favourable conditions for them. The main objective of the Union is to involve young people to take an active part in deepening the country's democratic, political and economic reforms, in promoting peace and harmony in society; contributing to the process of Uzbekistan's accession to the developed world; as well as ensuring the effective protection of the rights, legitimate interests and freedoms of the young generation, enhancing the spiritual and professional culture of boys and girls, and providing support for the realization of their intellectual and creative potential."

ACB (Association of Customs Brokers of Uzbekistan)

A non-profit organization established on September 18, 2009, the Association of Customs Brokers of Uzbekistan is an association of professionals in their field - including not only customs brokers, but also other organizations working in the field of foreign economic activity (manufacturers, exporters, importers, IT organizations, testing laboratories).

This combination of participants' activities allows the Association to show professionalism in a wide range of issues of foreign economic activity, to develop proposals for improving the regulation of foreign economic activity and to participate in various expert councils and working groups of state bodies.

APTA (The Association of Private Tourism Organizations of Uzbekistan)

The Association of Private Tourism Organizations of Uzbekistan (APTA) was established in 1998 at the suggestion of private tour operators and hotels of the republic with the support of the Government of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

"UZBEKIPAKSANOAT" Association (Silk Associaton of Uzbekistan)

The Uzbekpaksanoat Association was established by the Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan on March 29, 2017. The main tasks of the Association is the coordination of the dynamic development of the silk industry, the improvement of the fodder base, the organization of production and procurement of high-quality silkworm cocoons, the efficient organization of work to increase production volumes and improve the quality of finished silk products, master its most popular assortment and design, ensure certification and standardization of industry products in accordance with international requirements, widespread implementation of modern quality management methods.

Cooperation (Partners)

Cooperation Partners are companies and BIOs not involved in the initial implementation of the Project, but are rather those taking part in trainings and in the long term, will themselves become trainers and consultants who will continue the work started through the BOOST Support project.

Associations cooperating with the project include:

  • TES-Centre (Osh Branch)
  • JIA Business Association (Jalal-Abad Branch)
  • JIA Business Association (Batken)
  • Association of Fruit and Vegetable Enterprises of Kyrgyzstan

What ACTIVITIES we do

Activity Cluster 1

BIOs as service providers

"BOOST" plans to expand its activities beyond Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Kyrgyzstan and Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Uzbekistan and translate its action to other BIOs who will benefit from organisational capacity building. Within "Activity Cluster-1" all participating BIOs will undergo work on their institutional capacity building. This work will be based on researching needs awareness on Energy efficiency and Standards and Market Access.

"Activity Cluster-1" consist of 11 activities that will include training and coaching sessions of BIOs on energy efficiency & quality standards, on international market regulations and requirements, on energy efficiency and how to help MSMEs to become more energy efficient and also on facilitation of access to finance which include lectures on alternative financing opportunities like crowdfunding, peer-2-peer lending etc. It is worth mentioning that training will be based on a Training of trainers (ToT) approach and hence in future BIOs staff or associated experts will be able to act as trainers for their company members. One of the core elements of "Activity Cluster-1" will be the training classes of Energy Auditors that will cover major sectors for this project - textile, agri-business & food processing. In addition to this Pilot energy auditing will be carried out.

Meeting with representatives of the Ministry of Energy in both countries to discuss energy efficiency concepts will be held as part of broader policy development for entire sector. BIOs will also take part in developing of training materials to roll out to MSME. Another important issue is facilitation of Private Public Dialogue (PPD) which will help to increase awareness for energy efficiency and quality and standards of products among policy makers and business community. PPD will be organised in a form of regular discussions and round tables.

Activity Cluster 2

Entrepreneurs Capacity Development

The "Activity Cluster - 2" part of "BOOST" project consist of 6 main elements and aimed at capacity development of entrepreneurs and enhancement of enterprises. It will be dedicated to defining the needs of MSMEs on energy efficiency and market access issues as well as to increasing the awareness on energy efficiency and saving potentials as well as on market access potential to MSMEs in Andijan, Ferghana and Namangan regions of Uzbekistan and Osh, Jalal-Abad and Batken regions of Kyrgyzstan. Also, activities include training modules for selected companies of the textile sector on energy efficiency and this training will be implemented by the expert energy auditors who will support the project.

Energy audit will be done at selected companies in order to identify energy reduction measures and see cost savings potential. Energy audit measures will consist of four stages whereby energy auditor verifies the energy consumption, then a technical measure device will be left at the SME overnight to collect further data and within 2 weeks of the audit, the trained energy auditors will return to provide briefing on areas where the SME`s energy can be
reduced, and cost savings can be achieved. Third step will be a a follow up assessment visit to offer advice or additional support and to measure the impact of any changes implemented. Finally, the fourth stage of assessment will be done after 4 months to review final progress and to prepare energy reduction report.

Training and skills development on export-specific marketing and on trade fair participation. These training sessions will be done via exchange visits among Uzbek and Kyrgyz entrepreneurs and hence using peer learning. The entrepreneurs on both sides of the border deal with common challenges especially in the cross-border region. The envisaged exchange and peer learning visits aim to foster exchange of experiences, good practices and knowledge.

Activity Cluster 3

Job seekers Capacity Development

The objective of the last cluster of activities is to identify trainings needs of selected job seekers and young entrepreneurs and consult labour market data in order to design a demand-driven training programme. The "Activity Cluster - 2" part of "BOOST" project has 5 elements. Initial element is designed to development series of workshops for job seekers and start-ups. The developed modules will also promote gender equality particularly in the selection of participants for the workshops. Project sets the objective to carry out workshops for 270 job seekers and young entrepreneurs in at least three different locations in each country. Training and coaching materials will be made available online so that trainees have constantly access to training subjects. The training material will be prepared in a way that interesting job seekers and young entrepreneurs who did not participate at the workshop series will have the chance to study by themselves.