12 Stories of Successful Women-Entrepreneurs in Kyrgyzstan
Women are usually associated with being tender and lacking strength in Asian culture. But there is strength and perseverance in each woman that we will talk about today. Banur Abdiyeva moved to a village in the south of Lake Issyk-Kul eight years ago. Her mother always dreamed of hosting guests.
“In the beginning, we decided to just build a house. And when the house was finished, Banur heard an interesting offer from her mother. “I want to host guests,” she told me. I doubted about the capabilities of the little-known village. Also, because they built a house for themselves, not for tourists.”
Banur Abdiyeva, founder of the Apricot Guest House
Ultimately, the family took the final decision and made an advertisement for the guest house “Apricot” on the Internet. The first group of foreign tourists liked the house very much. Tourists enjoyed the usual village life. Since then this house has been visited by guests from 54 countries. The house is located near the coast and mineral hot springs. Banur Abdiyeva organizes tours of local attractions for her guests. She also takes care of the environment and tries to apply green technologies.
Speaking of green technology, one of the most unique and ecologically clean products of Kyrgyzstan is the product “Supara Talkan”. Zhanylsynzat Turganbayeva proved that selling Kyrgyz national dishes can lead to a good income. She produces the same talkan, only adding chocolate and nuts. Now, Talkan is a delicious, modern Kyrgyz dessert.
Let’s return to tourism and guest houses. Of course, it is difficult to start and run any business. It is harder to have a business in one city and live and work in another, along with having multiple professions. Ainura Saparbayeva has been coping with this for over 11 years. She is a university lecturer, translator, and founder of the Alay Yurt Camp brand.
Another entrepreneur who keeps up with the times is Nazgul Janybayeva. Ten years ago, the event industry was not very developed in Kyrgyzstan and people did not take this business seriously. Nazgul Janybayeva saw potential demand in the market and founded her company, Event M. Today, her agency organizes over 20 conferences a month. The company has become one of the best in the event planning industry.
Due to its natural resources, Kyrgyzstan is famous for its mountain healing herbs. Over many years, Sonungul Zhyltyrova has not only been growing herbs in the form of valerian but also conducting master classes on the cultivation of medicinal herbs.
The favorite hobby has become a business and brings good money. Valerian is a very expensive herb. Sonungul Zhyltyrova earns an average of $500 per season on one hundred square meters of land. To achieve such a great result, one needs to water the seedlings in time and fertilize the land precisely. She believes that healing plants can be a progressive business as rare plant species grow in Kyrgyzstan.
In addition to food and tourism, women in Kyrgyzstan are also making noticeable accomplishments in the fields of fashion and design. Tatiana Vorotnikova is a designer whose collections are presented on the runways of Paris and Milan. She sews ethnic costumes. The entrepreneur has glorified Kyrgyz culture both domestically and abroad. Vorotnikova’s main goal is not profit, but to emphasize nomad traditions.
Many Kyrgyz women combine several professions at once, as is the case with Zhamila Imankulova. For 16 years now, Zhamila Imankulova has been engaged in analysis and being a head-hunter. Being a head-hunter is not only looking for specialists but also looking for talent! Additionally, three years ago Jamila founded another company - EcoFarm. She studied health nutrition at the New York Institute of Nutrition. In her shop, one can find many different eco-friendly products. Zhamila’s goal is to create not only a profitable business but also a business that is useful to people and positively affects the environment.
Women not only build and develop their businesses but also form alliances that bring together people. Aziza Yuldasheva is president of the Agribusiness Association “Zher Azygy”. Aziza, thanks to her close work with entrepreneurs and farmers, is well aware of market needs. She is confident that the country’s agriculture has great prospects going forward.
“Organic farming in the south needs to be developed. Local farmers cannot compete in volume, so we need to produce high value-added products”.
Aziza Yuldasheva, President of the Zher Azygy Agribusiness Association
It is important to note that Aziza helped a deaf girl open her hostel. She helped her write a business plan and run the business. Now the young entrepreneur has expanded and created a network of hostels in her local region. This is not the only accomplishment that Aziza is proud of. The association also mentors young professionals and shows them how to develop the company. With the assistance of Aziza Yuldasheva, several entrepreneurs from the southern region launched successful projects.
“It’s never too late to start your own business,” says Zhamila Sabitakunova, who started her business on her fourth attempt and after retirement. She was working as a biology teacher at school for 20 years. After retirement, she turned a small corner of her home into a small manufactory and started producing sweet corn sticks. Now her shop produces 20 tons of corn sticks per month. But this is not the limit. The entrepreneur after several negotiations attracted investments. And now she is at the stage of planning the construction of a large factory. Even though Zhamila has learned everything on her own, she continues to develop herself, so she visited Japan several times to gain international experience.
At the same time, she shares her experience with young entrepreneurs and conducts training sessions. “Being open to new things” is the motto of Zhamila Sabitakunova.
Not all successful women are working professionals. Tolgonai Baira got married at a young age. She decided to devote herself to her children and family. While she was busy raising three daughters, she attended sewing courses. In the beginning, she wanted to sew just for herself and for her girls. Everything changed when one of her daughters performed at a children’s party dressed in Tolgonai’s sewed dress. Everyone was amazed and her clothing. It pushed Tolgonai to turn her dream into reality. This is how the famous Baira brand appeared in Kyrgyzstan. Now Tolgonai has three shops. She provides jobs for 20 people and pays taxes like thousands of other women entrepreneurs.
Another example is the founder of the Maestro football club, Aidana Otorbayeva, who is only 24 years old. Aidana has turned her love of football into a business and founded a football club. Her football school is home to future Kyrgyz champions. In business, she has also achieved success and her football school has become a profitable business. She intends to build her own football field, which will meet European standards. Aidana’s success breaks society’s stereotypes about girls in terms of athletics. She proved that girls and boys are equal on the pitch.
Figures, analysis, research - it sounds very serious and unclear. However, this is the business of Ainura Sagynbayeva. 21 years ago, she turned her social research profession into a business. Ainura founded the largest consulting company called SIAR, which identifies interesting trends in our country. Together with her colleagues, Ainura has calculated the index of happiness of the Kyrgyz people. According to her, society can be happy only when the rights of women are protected and the gender balance is observed. Sociological studies had shown that 90 percent of women’s income was spent on the education and health of children. Therefore, Ainura says, both society and the government benefit from women’s entrepreneurial activity.
Ainura Sagynbayeva also has another business, teaching English language courses. She focuses on education, particularly for girls. Therefore, Ainura wants the Kyrgyz people to speak the language of world communication - English. Strong education and knowledge of languages are fundamental to beginning a successful career.
These are stories of only 12 strong and beautiful Kyrgyz women. They are an example not only for young girls but also for all men and women of all ages. They prove that it is never too early or too late to do what you love to do and achieve your dreams.