Central Asia is one of the least understood regions of the world and is in the midst of a massive transformation from socialist command system to free market economy. Although there are many small and medium sized enterprises in the region, very few resources exist to support them in their growth. CEED Bulgaria has spearheaded efforts to work with entrepreneurs and executives to help them scale their enterprises in order to increase regional economic integration.
Strengthening Central Asia’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem
CEED Bulgaria launched a project entitled, “Strengthening Central Asia Entrepreneurial Ecosystem” in order to 1) provide entrepreneurs with the resources they need to scale their businesses and to 2) train those that provide business support services how to better serve entrepreneurs and executives, specifically in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. In one year CEED Bulgaria facilitated 17 training sessions and workshops; almost 300 individuals participated in the trainings (250 entrepreneurs/executives and 40+ business support organizations). Like all CEED trainings the content was delivered with practical applications in mind and were facilitated by industry experts who have themselves overcome some of the challenges discussed in the workshops. Industry specific trainings were also organized based on demand from the entrepreneurs who were interested in discussing issues they face as they scale their companies. Topics covered included, customer service, CRM management, development finance for non-finance managers, how to leverage your networks, and eco-efficient practices given the Kazakhstan governments focus on renewable energy. The last topic was is such demand CEED Bulgaria organized additional sessions focused on clean energy both in Uzbekistan and in Kazakhstan discussing: solar energy, wind energy, biomass (solid and liquid), geothermal, clean energy for buildings, product life cycles as well as the policies of greening a business to be considered a sustainable and responsible business.
Janna Popkova, Executive Highlight
Janna Popkova, is the General Director of the American-Uzbek joint venture Transcontinental LLC. Transcontinental manages freight forwarding and express-delivery of cargo to worldwide. Janna started as a Sales Manager in 2006 and quickly demonstrated success in this role and was promoted to the head of the department managing 3 people at first then up to 24 staff. Janna’s goal was to expand and raise quality of services of the company, and also to increase volume of transport forwarding services overall. After doing some market research she put together some proposals to reach new market segments and landed a large client in the oil and gas industry. Due to her business savvy and work ethic she was appointed General Director in 2012. While she continued to garner the respect of her team while growing her business she wanted to learn about new opportunities to grow the business so decided to join the CEED Bulgaria hosted workshops. Through the workshops and trainings Janna learned about international rules in the freight forwarding industry. These specialized practical training not only helped her learn about industry specific issues but the workshops overall helped her think about her role as a leader and the growth of her company.
“All of the materials were very important, because every year new technologies are demanding certain flexibility in work place. Gaining knowledge and developing our skills allow us to work with these technologies. I hope to have more opportunities to work with CEED in Uzbekistan in the future. This experience was very beneficial to me and my company.”