Bear Beer Toasts Leaner, Greener Operations With FINTECC Financing

bottling line

Innovative climate technologies set Kyrgyz beverage maker on path for sustainable growth

When a Kyrgyz beverage manufacturer acquired a new production facility outside the capital city of Bishkek in 2009, the company had a lot working in its favour. With the country’s beverage market growing, the site boasted excellent transport links and a location next to a crystal-clear water source — a vital ingredient in high-quality beer and soft drinks.

Leading the expansion, Aitmamat Nazarov, who had worked in the beverage industry for 10 years, saw an opportunity to realise his lifelong dream of heading up his own beer company. But first, he says, the company had to overcome some major obstacles when reconstructing the plant.

“Our goal was to build a European-standard factory, but we ran into tough problems, including a lack of finance and technical expertise,” he says. “That’s why we turned to the EBRD for support.”

Building a better business from the bottom up

In 2013, Bear Beer (founded in 2012 under its parent company, Artezian) received  a €7 million loan from the EBRD to rebuild the factory from the ground up. As part of the financing, the company also received a US $127,000 loan from FINTECC to offset the cost of various energy efficiency measures that are helping the company save money, while reducing its carbon footprint.

The factory was reconstructed with thermal insulation and new windows — critical investments in a country where winter temperatures can dip below 20°C. Other FINTECC-funded technologies included a high-efficiency steam boiler, a CO2 recovery system, an energy management system and variable speed drives that optimize electricity use by motors.

Together, these technologies will result in annual savings of more than €73,000 in heating and electricity. Meanwhile, the CO2 recovery system will allow the company to recuperate and reuse CO2 generated in its production processes, resulting in further cost savings and carbon emissions reductions of over 600  tonnes per year. 

Doing well by doing good

Now the CEO of Bear Beer, Nazarov says the new plant has been fully operational since 2015. Since then, the company has successfully expanded its offerings with four new beverage brands, including soft drinks, bottled water and a new, local beer called Topaz, which Nazarov hopes will become a national favorite.

The company’s growth has also created new jobs, with the number of Bear Beer employees growing from 25 in 2015 to 75 in 2017.

One of the only companies in the Kyrgyz Republic to hold an official certification of compliance with international manufacturing standards, Bear Beer has quickly established itself as one of the leading domestic beverage producers and aims to start exporting in the future.

As the Kyrgyz Republic continues its transition to a market economy, Nazarov says that he is proud of Bear Beer for setting an example of doing well by doing good.

“Thanks to the EBRD, we were able to obtain the funding and technical expertise we needed to expand our business and become more competitive,” he said. “Best of all, we did this in a way that was good for everyone: good for the company, good for the Kyrgyzstan and good for the planet.”