Achieving $2.5 million in sales in Central Asia, through e-commerce
Certification events in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan mark 1.5 years of training; ITC, partners and beneficiaries celebrate over $2.5 million in sales through online channels.
In June and July 2022, the International Trade Centre (ITC) organized national certification events in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan to celebrate the results achieved by the artisans, entrepreneurs, and national coaches who participated in the e-commerce training facilitated by ITC’s EU-funded Ready4Trade Central Asia Project.
More than 100 artisans, entrepreneurs and coaches joined the events on site, in addition to representatives from the European Union (EU) delegations of all three countries, and project partners, such as QazTrade, the Union of Artisans of Kazakhstan, and the Ministry of Economy and Commerce of the Kyrgyz Republic.
During the event, ITC, the EU and project partners awarded 145 certificates to the national coaches, artisans and businesses who completed the entire programme cycle of one and a half years.
The e-commerce foundation training of trainers started in November 2020 and covered topics such as strategy, market research, digital content creation and optimization, digital marketing, online platforms, payment solutions and logistics providers.
In Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan the programme supported 34 trainers and 155 artisans and businesses (of which 98 are women-led). The ITC-trained national coaches hosted over 1,200 one-to-one tailored sessions in 28 regions in all three countries. In addition, 50 artisans and businesses in Tajikistan and Turkmenistan received customized support to adapt to these countries’ e-commerce ecosystems.
Moreover, a series of regionally tailored eLabs offered practical support to the project beneficiaries with technical assistance to resolve e-commerce related challenges and barriers. These included activities tailored to the online channels eBay, Etsy, and Alibaba, as well as digitizing products and creating video stories about the artisans.
In nine regions throughout Kazakhstan, eight national coaches received training to become trainers themselves. The 40 artisans and businesses that were trained and coached (with 25 women-led businesses), achieved over $500,000 in sales. The participating artisans and businesses, representing sectors from textile and garments to food and handicraft, received more than 350 individual coaching sessions and direct support from their coaches.
Sunkar Yesmukhanov, founder of KIRITTI brand and one of the participants says, “While there is plenty of information online on e-commerce learning, the challenge for me has always been its practical application. The project provides individual support and I think its key value is the customized approach and professional one-on-one coaching.”
In seven regions throughout Kyrgyzstan, 18 national coaches received training to become trainers themselves. The 75 artisans and businesses that were trained and coached (with 57 women-led businesses), achieved over $1.9 million in sales. Businesses from the textile and garments, handicrafts, and processed food sectors received collectively over 700 individual coaching sessions from ITC-trained national coaches.
Burul Jakypova, founder of Uz-Anar Handmade felt products and one of the participants says, “I joined the project with very limited awareness on e-commerce. I have progressed substantially on how to sell online. Now I understand how to adapt my products to the needs of the target market, how to digitize them and select the relevant selling platforms, like eBay and Etsy. I particularly found the success stories of entrepreneurs selling Kyrgyz-made products internationally insightful. With ITC support, I created my first website with an English-language version, to reach global markets.”
In 12 regions throughout Uzbekistan, eight national coaches received training to become trainers themselves. The 40 artisans and businesses that were trained and coached (with 16 women-led businesses), achieved over $108,000 in sales.
Feruz Temirov, founder of FeruzArt and one of the participants says, “The programme gave me the opportunity to learn, and explore new business opportunities and target markets. I now know how to build an e-commerce strategy, do market research, identify potential customers, and target audiences, create e-commerce content, evaluate and select payment and logistics providers, and promote my business online.”
About the project
Under Ready4Trade Central Asia, the training is part of ITC’s ecomConnect enterprise training launched in 2020, which provided a series of capacity-building, advisory services, and awareness raising activities to support over 200 small businesses and artisans to trade internationally and intra-regionally through online channels.
The EU-funded Ready4Trade Central Asia Project aims to promote intra-regional and international trade in Central Asia by enhancing the transparency of cross-border requirements, removing regulatory and procedural barriers, strengthening business capability to comply with trade formalities and standards, as well as by improving cross-border e-commerce. The project continues until end of 2023 and activities will further improve the development of e-commerce in the region.