Business Women Association BWA -Uzbekistan

Linked with our presentation of Sakhibakhon Irgasheva – Uzbekistan.

Women Economic Empowerment – Presentation of the partners: The Business Women Association (BWA) of Uzbekistan is one of the first Non-Governmental Organizations in Uzbekistan which was founded in 1991 by 12 women entrepreneurs that had their own business activity.

During the first years of its activity, BWA faced a lot of problems, such as the lack of understanding of what a non-governmental organization is and the negative attitude towards entrepreneurship. In 1991-1992 there were absolutely no woman organizations where women could address their problems and ideas. That was a very complicated instable time (transition period, USSR collapse, all economic links broke-up, industry development problems, etc.). All those problems had an impact mostly on women. They were fired in case of staff reduction. BWA felt that women needed assistance and it had to undertake some measures.

Thus, BWA started providing vocational education towards women entrepreneurs, with its own resources. Women were taught the basics of market economy, marketing, accounting and taxation. There was no other place, where women could learn about these topics, since in the former USSR there was no knowledge about private entrepreneurship. For three years BWA used only its own resources to train women on entrepreneurship. BWA’s Chairperson published her first book “Learning to pay taxes”.

Since then BWA has increased its field of intervention. It is now implementing various projects and programs dealing with:

- “Business-Incubator”: creation of advantageous conditions for setting up a new business, use of new technologies, opening of a training center,

- “Market Skills Development Centre”: SMEs and micro-SMEs staff training and including capacity building for high-level officials,

- UN projects: “Microcredits program”: Microcredit distribution in rural areas of Kashkadarya and Karakalpakstan Republic,

- International Labor Organization project: training and seminars for employers Management and development,

- OSCE projects: civil and legal education for women: human rights training of trainers and seminars conduction (more than 2000 women participated),

- Counterpart Consortium (USAID): project on advocacy campaigns on entrepreneurship,

- World Bank Institute: “Community empowerment network”.

- Mainz Handicraft Chamber, Germany, project on professional training and capacity building of women in Tashkent city and regions in the field of needle work, fancywork, cookery, baskets making, carpet weaving, hairdressing art, design. More than 9000 women all over the republic were trained.

The main fields of activity of BWA are:

- Business education,

- Lobbing and Advocacy,

- Business contacts and links establishment.

The services of Business Women Association for its members:

- Business plan designing,

- Business consulting,

- Assistance in getting a bank credit,

- Trainings and workshops.

Bukhara Oblast BWA: The project involves training of women-entrepreneurs. The specific objectives of the project are to: (i) raise women’s awareness of economic opportunities available to them; (ii) build knowledge of women’s legal rights; (iii) create employment for women and their families; (iv) facilitate interaction among women in order that they can co-operatively identify opportunities for women entrepreneurs. It is expected that the training seminars will create a solid base for BWA to set up microcredit schemes for women entrepreneurs.

Project activities include organising and carrying out training seminars, launching of an information campaign. BWA will analyse its experience in the project to learn lessons in enhancing women’s entrepreneurial skills. As estimated 160 women entrepreneurs and their families will directly benefit from the improved ability of women to engage in income-earning activities. BWA will tap the women that were trained to establish women’s microcredit co-operatives.

This grant is clearly a women-targeted project, which calls for women’s participation in the small entrepreneurship activity such as handicrafts, weaving and fancywork, sewing and tailoring, off-season vegetable and fruit production and new enterprises. The understanding of gender as a crosscutting subject was developed from the very beginning. Initially meetings were held in rayons of Bukhara Oblast with the Chairperson of BWA to brief training participants about the need for looking at gender issues in the project. Emphasis was given on ADB’s approach of mainstreaming gender in ADB-financed projects. As a result of the above activities, a better understanding on gender and development (GAD) issues has been created within the project. (Read more on ADB – Gender & Development).

Working with NGOs: To pilot-test new and diverse approaches to promote gender-inclusive development, a grant financing facility, or Regional Technical Assistance – RETA 5889: Gender and Development Initiatives, was developed and approved in 2000. Funds were allocated under the Project to specifically finance small-scale initiatives of women’s NGOs that have the potential for scaling up or replication in ADB-financed loan and TA projects. Over a two-year period of implementation, the RETA has financed 30 women’s NGO initiatives and proved a successful tool in strengthening ADB’s partnerships with innovative women’s NGOs in the Asia Pacific Region. (Read more on this page).

links:

Women in Uzbekistan;

a worldbank text.

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