Asian Development Bank to Support Women-Run Businesses in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and RG Brands (RGB), a leading food and beverage group in Kazakhstan, signed a $20 million loan to modernize operations along the company’s regional distribution chain. The assistance will improve the livelihoods of shopkeepers and support women’s empowerment in Kazakhstan and in neighboring the Kyrgyz Republic, Modern Diplomacy reported.

The loan, RGB’s second from ADB, will finance the purchase of 18,750 energy-efficient coolers for small convenience stores on RGB’s distribution chain in Kazakhstan and the Kyrgyz Republic, at least half of which are owned by women. These coolers will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 4,200 tons. ADB’s assistance will also help to modernize RGB’s existing production facilities in Kazakhstan to reduce costs and improve energy efficiency and environmental sustainability by reducing plastic usage.

“The project will improve the livelihoods of shopkeepers, many of them women, through increased sales generated by the new coolers,” said ADB Investment Specialist for Private Sector Operations Ms. Tushna Dora. “In addition to the social and environmental benefits, the project will help to develop the country’s food and agriculture industry and diversify the economy by improving RGB’s production and distribution efficiency and expanding access to its customers.”

ADB is also providing a technical assistance (TA) grant to develop the company’s gender inclusive investment plan and a gender inclusive policy and action plan. The TA will help RGB to enhance its corporate governance by developing policies on better financial management as well as gender equality and inclusion. A monitoring mechanism will track the gender and income of shopkeepers, and training will be provided for women shopkeepers on financial literacy and digital technology.

RGB is a leading producer of milk, tea, juice, water, and other packaged beverages in Kazakhstan. It has an extensive, nationwide sales and distribution platform and exports mainly to the Kyrgyz Republic and the Russian Federation.