In the mountainous Gorno-Badakhshan region of Tajikistan, businesses ravaged by the COVID pandemic have found new hope in the opening of the Khorog Centre for Entrepreneurship (KCE). Established by the University of Central Asia’s School of Professional and Continuing Education (UCA-SPCE), the Centre is providing advice, training and support to generate income and promote market development for small business leaders and farmers in the region. It is part of Tajikistan’s Local Economic Development in Selected High-Mountain Regions Project.
Why does a university such as UCA promote entrepreneurship?
“The answer is simple but also complicated…It is simple because UCA is an integral part of the Aga Khan Development Network, whose simple and clear objective is improving the quality of life of people. It is complicated because an educational institution is about knowledge…but if we want to improve the quality of life of people, this knowledge has to find a pathway and means to support and celebrate human endeavour through entrepreneurship,” said Prof. Dr. S. Sohail H. Naqvi, Rector of UCA.
The pandemic has significantly impacted global economic conditions, and the monthly earnings of individual entrepreneurs have declined by 54 percent in the Gorno-Badakhshan region. To help people emerge from this challenging situation, KCE is introducing new and innovative ways to build and support highly competitive businesses, regional brands and business linkages by bringing together startups, business consultants and investors from the region and around the world.
The Khorog Centre for Entrepreneurship – established with the generous support of Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusamdmenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the Aga Khan Foundation – is part of the ongoing efforts of the Tajik government and UCA to promote the development of young people. Mrs. Sabine Olthof, Country Director of GIZ, remarked at the Centre’s opening ceremony: “One idea that I personally like very much is the establishment of a Credit Union of Alumni under the Centre for Entrepreneurship to support new emerging and existing businesses.”