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Astana, Kazakhstan • 30 June, 2022 | 16:21

EU-Backed Project Helps Kazakh Businesses Reach $500,000 in Online Sales

SMEs from textile, food and handicraft sectors thrive on markets like Kaspi, Ozon and Alibaba

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In total, 40 businesses across Kazakhstan have been trained to launch their first online trade channels and achieve sustainable sales, The Times of Central Asia reports citing the Delegation of the European Union to Kazakhstan. Ready4Trade Central Asia (R4TCA) is funded by the European Union (EU) and aims to facilitate trade cooperation in the region.

The International Trade Centre (ITC), the implementation agency of R4TCA, trained SMEs on the entire e-commerce process, from identification of markets and customers, developing their value proposition, onboarding on online platforms, connecting with payments and logistics providers, to engaging in customer support and digital marketing.

Youri Skaskevitch, Manager of the Ready4Trade Central Asia program from the EU Delegation to Kazakhstan said: “During a period of 1.5 years, the EU-funded project is supporting and enhancing the capacity of the businesses in Kazakhstan with 350 individual coaching sessions from the ITC-trained national advisors. These businesses represent different sectors from textile and garments, to food and handicraft. It is worth noting that more than half of the businesses involved in today’s training are women-led”.

As of today, 30 of the participating companies completed the entire cycle of the program and collectively reported online sales of around $500,000 since they joined the program and opened or improved their online channels. Many of these companies are micro-producers, who had limited digital skills and lack of online sales experience when joining the programme.

The initiative is implemented in collaboration with national partner 'QazTrade' Trade Policy Development Center JSC and with support of the Union of Artisans of Kazakhstan.

“The thriving e-commerce ecosystem of Kazakhstan provides many opportunities for national producers with marketplaces like Kaspi, Ozon and Alibaba. Once companies develop their strengths, they are ready to explore global opportunities, which are especially significant for creative sectors and processed food. We will continue to support R4TCA's e-commerce component at the next stage of the project by exploring the best solutions for international online channels,” said Ozhet Shegirbayev, Director of the Research and Consulting Department at QazTrade.

Annabel Sykes, the International e-commerce expert at the International Trade Centre, oversees the implementation of the e-commerce component of the Ready4Trade Central Asia project: “There is strong demand for ethically made handicraft products among international customers, given their uniqueness, the story behind their creation and how they support local communities. We worked with artisans in Kazakhstan to train them on how to develop quality content for online channels and digitize their products. Yet, there are limitations in artisans’ reach to international audiences as not all global platforms dedicated to handicrafts are operational in Central Asia. In the next phase of the R4TCA project, we aim to work with international partners to create a Central Asian artisan empowerment hub to better connect artisans to international demand.”

The Ready4Trade Central Asia aims to support the development of intra-regional and international trade in five Central Asian countries. The four-year initiative is a trade component of a larger EU-funded program which aims to support Investment, Competitiveness and Trade, thus contributing to sustainable and inclusive economic development in the region. The Ready4Trade Central Asia project is funded by the European Union and implemented by the International Trade Centre.

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