The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is to invest US$1.9m in the establishment of a retail chain in Turkmenistan.

The EBRD investment will support the development of one of the first modern food retail chains in Turkmenistan with an investment in Ak Enar, a locally-owned retail chain in the country.

The project will support Ak Enar's strategy to develop a chain of stores located close to residential areas, bringing the modern retail experience to customers in Turkmenistan and providing a wide range of quality products at competitive prices, the EBRD said today (27 November).

"This project will set new and improved standards in the food retail sector in Turkmenistan, increasing the competition to the benefit of consumers. By opening new stores, Ak Enar will strengthen its linkages with local suppliers and will create new job opportunities", said Neil McKain, head of the EBRD office in Turkmenistan.

"This transaction reinforces the EBRD's commitment to support the development of the private sector in Turkmenistan, which is one of the key priorities for the government."

The equity investment is provided to Ek Anar under the EBRD's direct investment facility, a vehicle used to stimulate market activity by using a streamlined approach to financing smaller projects, mobilising more investment, and encouraging economic reform.

In addition, the EBRD is helping to improve Ek Anar's retail management through the Bank's TurnAround Management Programme, aimed at assisting private enterprises to adapt to the demands of a market economy.