All are examples of women in Kazakhstan who have been helped by Enterprise Development Centers (EDCs) established by ExxonMobil. The EDCs provide professional training in business planning, finance and other subjects for entrepreneurs and small business managers. After the successful creation of an EDC in 2005 in the capital city of Astana, ExxonMobil affiliate ExxonMobil Kazakhstan Inc., recently established a second EDC in the oil and gas-producing region of Atyrau, a traditionally under-served region of the country.
“It is difficult for entrepreneurs and small business managers to obtain the knowledge, skills and access to financing they need to create competitive, diversified, innovative and growth-oriented companies,” said Gulnar Nugman, public affairs advisor, ExxonMobil Kazakhstan. “Women in particular need opportunities to participate fully in the new market economy. We believe our support of small- and medium-sized businesses will help drive the country’s development of a strong and stable economy.”
The current global economy has made the need for this knowledge imperative – and the obstacles to obtaining it more prevalent. “As a good corporate citizen, ExxonMobil wants to assist in improving training opportunities, especially for disadvantaged elements of the population, including women, unemployed people and students,” Nugman noted.
EDCs help achieve the local government’s goal to diversify the economy beyond the oil and gas industry and support the development of small- and medium-sized businesses. Starting with ExxonMobil and the United States Agency for International Development’s joint sponsorship, since 2005, the Astana EDC has provided training through International Labor Organization-certified technicians to thousands of entrepreneurs, with a focus on female entrepreneurs.
Atyrau is the capital of Kazakhstan’s oil industry and one of the industrial centers of the republic. However, a lack of adequate infrastructure and a limited selection of goods and services lead to high prices and a higher cost of living compared to other cities. By developing small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the EDC hopes to saturate the local market with local goods and services that in turn will decrease product costs and prices for goods imported from other areas of the country.
It will also help train the high percentage of unemployed women for work-related skills to improve their economic status. In addition to self-employed entrepreneurs, employees of SMEs are eligible to attend courses that include marketing, business planning, human resources, financial statements, tax and law.