Mobilising the enthusiasm and creativity of youth to address social issues through entrepreneurship will engage youth in communities and build critical leadership skills. This was the principle behind the Change the World Around You! competition administered by the University of Central Asia (UCA), in partnership with the Aga Khan Foundation Kyrgyz Republic and The Coca-Cola Foundation and Company.
In workshops across the Kyrgyz Republic, youth were invited to submit creative proposals addressing critical needs in their communities. After attending a workshop, Meder Usupbekov, 26, was inspired to write a proposal on building wheelchair accessible ramps to major public institutions. His proposal was one of 218 that were submitted.
Meder’s proposal was selected. He and 26 other proposal writers attended social entrepreneurship training at UCA’s School of Professional and Continuing Education (UCA-SPCE) in Bishkek.
“This training was designed to help these young innovators transform their ideas into workable realities. It will help them build and apply skills now, while enhancing their qualifications for future employment,” said UCA-SPCE Director, Gulnara Djunushalieva.
The finalists then defended their business plans to an independent selection committee. Nine winners were selected, and each received up to $3,000 to implement their projects.
Azamat Akbarov’s Our Future in Our Hands initiative facilitated employment opportunities at a clothing shop for students in the Apparel Design Programme of Naryn Agrarian Technical College, Naryn State University.
Mirgul Alimjanova’s Playground Construction project resulted in a new playground in Batken, increasing outdoor activities for families. Meder Usupbekov’s Access Ramps for People with Disabilities dream is now a reality; ramps are being built to enable wheelchair access to public services in Naryn.
Nadejda Domasheva’s Bride-Kidnapping and Early Marriages is a Crime project is raising awareness of these issues using forum theatre, in which audiences decide plot direction. Aisuluu Kudaiberdieva’s Dance for Youth with Disabilities initiative is training youth with physical disabilities and creating dance groups in Bishkek.
Elena Shilonosova’s Green Bags Production project trained youth from an orphanage to produce eco-bags to be sold in prominent supermarkets and shops. Marsbek Tezekov’s Recycling Paper project involved implementing waste separation systems in schools and selling paper to recycling companies to generate income to buy textbooks for students.
Shumkarbek Adilbek uulu’s Website for Financial Literacy offers educational resources for financial planning and management. Adilet Murzaliev’s Online Student Assessment Tools include a database and website to track children’s academic performance and encourage parental involvement.
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