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Maya Kuvakova started her business in a small kitchen in the Kyrgyz Republic, where she prepared dumplings and sold them to her neighbours. At the time, Maya was on maternity leave and needed the additional income to support her growing family. She had two small children and knew how insecure women can feel, especially when on maternity leave.

Now her company, Maminy retsepty, is one of the biggest producers of semi-finished foods in the country. It operates 10 branded stores and produces more than 110 types of semi-finished product, with a total capacity of more than 1000 kg per day.

“We produce a variety of semi-finished food – dumplings, pies, sausages and traditional food, but we also offer different types of pastry for those clients who want to cook themselves,” Maya says. “I express my love through food, and I know many of our clients do the same. My family is the first taster and a scrupulous food critic. Thus, it is very important for me to keep a homemade flavour to our products.”

Maya’s company was one of the few women-led businesses in the Kyrgyz Republic to benefit from the Covid-19 pandemic. It happened unexpectedly, and Maya did not have enough resources to meet the rapid growth in demand.

Over three years, from 2019 to 2022, the company automated its production processes and attracted new clients. It established a cooperation with the Globus and Frunze hypermarkets, in addition to distributing its products to 115 groceries and cafes. As Maya’s business flourished, she remained dedicated to her mission to keep working manually with pastry.

The rise in demand and expansion of the company required new operating and marketing solutions to meet customer expectations. Maya decided to develop a mobile application and approached the EBRD for advice. The total net project cost was €12,500, 75 per cent of which came from the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) grant incentive.

“Our mobile application helps us to attract new clients and retain their loyalty through different marketing campaigns and additional incentives, such as cashbacks,” Maya says. “It is a priority for me to receive feedback from our clients. My social media marketing team tries to address all messages and concerns.”

EBRD consultants also provided Maya with energy-saving advice for the company, which will allow it to save up to 10 per cent of its electricity a year.

Maya is planning to open the company’s 11th store in Bishkek, another store in Osh, the country’s second-largest city, and move to a newly equipped workshop. She aims to focus more on the strategic development of her company and improve its marketing and business processes. She also wants to spend more time with her family and dedicate time to self-development.

“I have a big family, four children, many relatives and my staff, of course,” Maya says. “I feel responsible for the more than 100 women in our company and try to provide my support and advice. I faced many challenges – even my family did not fully support me – but I was stubborn and followed my dream. I feel confident now and proud of my company.”