The service sector is the second largest sector after agriculture. An estimated 566,000 workers were employed in the Kyrgyzstan service sector in 1999, according to the International Monetary Fund. This sector was under developed during the Soviet period when the government put most emphasis on heavy industry and agriculture. After independence, the service sector expanded rapidly. New laws and regulations made it possible to open private businesses offering consumer goods and services. The small service sector surged ahead as business people began offering services, such as car repair, housing construction and improvement, real estate services, legal services, beauty shop services, and other small business that did not require substantial investment.
The banking and financial services industry expanded rapidly, although during the first decade of independence (1990-2000) this financial sector continued to be heavily oriented toward foreign economic activity rather than local financial services. The government adopted a program in 2000 to support micro-credit lending to put more emphasis on local financial services.