Naryn is the largest, most sparsely populated and least accessible mountain region in Kyrgyzstan. The high-altitude expanses are good for pasture and nomadic life, but less so for the young people living in these rural communities who are contemplating – and worrying – about job prospects.
In response to this situation and to create job opportunities in mountain communities, particularly for youth, the University of Central Asia (UCA) – with generous support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) – inaugurated the Naryn Centre for Entrepreneurship (NCE) on 13 November 2021.
Within the framework of the project "Local Impact: A Transformative Partnership in Asia and Africa", UCA’s School of Professional and Continuing Education (SPCE) has established a holistic facility in Naryn to conduct intense entrepreneurship and business development training and launch business incubation and mentoring programmes.
“During our interactions with the business communities, we observed that not many youngsters enter into businesses due to lack of entrepreneurial skills and self-confidence,” said Azizullah Baig, AKF Regional Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning Manager. “Therefore, a vast majority of youth opt for salaried employment, which itself is a big challenge with limited job opportunities in the region. The Local Impact project and NCE seek to work with youth and encourage them towards creating self-employment opportunities.”
The Centre will deliver programmes to teach students advanced business concepts, including leadership and management, and provide them with a workspace, mentorship support and networking opportunities.
"I along with my son and grandson have attended many entrepreneurship courses at the School of Professional and Continuing Education, and subsequently received loans from KICB [Kyrgyz Investment and Credit Bank] to establish our business,” said Kalyikul Ysyraliev, an SPCE alumnus. “Our greenhouse produce is now available in local markets and much of our success has been due to support provided by the Aga Khan institutions."
“The Centre will help instil entrepreneurial culture among the youth of Kyrgyzstan,” said Jomart Hudaibergenov, Manager of NCE. “Instead of young people worrying about being hired, NCE will help them create jobs.”