July 2014—Nurturing entrepreneurship is considered vital to the Kyrgyz Republic's economic growth, particularly among young people who possess the creativity and drive required, yet lack the essential knowledge to develop and pursue business ideas.
Seventeen-year-old Bekjan Japiev seized his chance to learn the basic skills needed to launch an enterprise through a USAID-supported Business Compass initiative introduced at his school in March 2013 in Jalal-Abad, a city of 89,000 in the southwestern part of the country.
Through the initiative, the 11th-grader, along with 350 other youth, enrolled as members of a "StartUp" club—clubs based at high schools where students can get business training and then apply what they learn by starting up their own business. Club members participated in trainings on business planning, marketing, time management, financial literacy, effective communication, team building and more. The trainings were conducted by the InStream Public Foundation. The Business Compass initiative, created under USAID's Jasa.kg project, is implemented by the International Youth Foundation.
Today, Japiev says enrolling in the training was one of the most important decisions of his life. He was appointed coordinator of StartUp Club #19, one of 28 similar clubs established at secondary schools in Kara-Balta, Osh, Jalal-Abad and Bishkek new settlements.
Japiev was then selected, along with 35 other StartUp members, to participate in a short-term summer business incubator, which included training on the qualities of effective business leaders, identifying a successful business idea, and promoting and staffing a new enterprise. The training was followed by two weeks of hands-on business training and a camp focused on production automation and scale up.
Well-equipped with the knowledge they needed, Japiev and his team from StartUp Club #19 then took steps to launch their own business to manage school events. The group organized film screenings, recreational activities, business camps and trainings for their fellow students.
Their big success came, however, through the development of a small enterprise devoted to producing and selling sunflower seeds. After a year of applying their knowledge—and learning from their mistakes—Japiev and his team are now successfully selling seeds at stores in Jalal-Abad, generating a monthly profit up to $390 (20,000 som).
“Thanks to the StartUp Club, I have learned to work in a team, communicate with people without feeling shy, and run a business. Now, I don’t ask for money from my parents. These achievements changed my life—giving me confidence in my own strength,” said Japiev.
Because of its success at sustaining a business over time, StartUp Club #19 was recognized by a board of successful business people as one of the two best clubs of 2013. The group was awarded $58 (3,000 som) in February 2014 by the InStream Public Foundation. In all, more than 350 youth like Japiev have benefited from entrepreneurship trainings through Jasa.kg since the beginning of the project.
USAID's Jasa.kg project is a civic engagement and entrepreneurship initiative that harnesses and cultivates the creativity of youth to build a stable, prosperous and democratic Kyrgyzstan. Launched in 2011, the project primarily aims to inspire active citizenship among the country's youth, prepare them for the marketplace and create a culture of positive youth development.
Last updated: January 14, 2015