The team leader of Ilgeri, Erik Abdykalykov, a 26-year-old entrepreneur and activist from Bishkek, leads several major projects focused on developing urban culture. Photo: private archive

In March of this year, a hackathon dedicated to community development took place in Bishkek. While the concept of "community development" may seem broad and cross-cutting, the hackathon helped us bring together thoughtful people from diverse interests to form communities around them.

We spoke with the Ilgeri team, one of the hackathon finalists, who were among the top three ideas and received funding.

Team leader Erik Abdykalykov, a 26-year-old entrepreneur and activist from Bishkek, leads several major projects focused on developing urban culture. He is also the co-founder of the startup FitJab, the youth movement Rotaract Nomad Club, and has made a documentary called "Bishkek-140," which will be presented soon. When asked why he took up the idea of preserving cultural heritage, he answers: "Everyone says that we (Kyrgyz people) have a problem of self-identification. We've lived through several eras that didn't look like each other. And it's been 30 years since we lived under the conditions of wild capitalism, and young people still need answers. And the answers lie in our history."

In addition, Eric sees the issue as an opportunity to promote local crafts, tourism and products abroad. "We want to create a youth creative community to export services and products to global markets, as well as develop local destinations," Erik shares. For example, he proposes to use gamification and QR-code technology to develop tourism. “It has been known for a long time that foot tourists leave more money in the country, correspondingly we have to provide necessary conditions for its development, including offering new solutions", the leader of the project says. "Imagine how convenient it is for tourists to point a camera at a monument and learn its history in a language they can understand."

The team proposes to use gamification and QR-code technology to develop tourism. Photo: Asem Mukeeva / UNDP Kyrgyzstan

ILGERI is about moving forward

The name ILGERI comes from the Kyrgyz language and has several meanings:

  • There is a popular phrase "Ish ilgeri bolsun," which implies "the wish to advance in one's cause." As a rule, the phrase is used during fieldwork, house building, or other activities involving physical labor. In this sense, the word "ilgeri" can also mean "future";
  • Kyrgyz fairy tales begin with the phrase "ilgeri-ilgeri", taking the reader or listener back in time. In this context, the phrase is used to describe events of the past or history;
  • According to Eric, "ilgeri" is also synonymous with the word "janynda" - near.

Thus, the name of the initiative combines connotations of the future, the past (history) and that which is near.

In a word, ILGERI is a trilingual (Kyrgyz, Russian, English) multimedia project, promoting the culture, history, material and immaterial heritage of Kyrgyzstan with the help of modern technology, creative solutions and art. 

ILGERI is a trilingual (Kyrgyz, Russian, English) multimedia project, promoting the culture, history, material and immaterial heritage of Kyrgyzstan with the help of modern technology, creative solutions and art. Photo: Sputnik Kyrgyzstan

 

Collaboration with business for sustainability

"For sustainability, you have to look at the project as an entrepreneurial case study," Eric says. In this sense, ILGERI will collaborate with private companies, and position itself as a socially oriented entrepreneurial project. The team plans to launch the project this fall, having secured the support of local organizations and foundations beforehand. They are already working with the mayor's office and the Ministry of Culture and State Archives of the Kyrgyz Republic to obtain institutional and municipal support. "Our team is open to creative people, so we encourage people to contact us about our project," Eric says, confirming the versatility of the project.

ILGERI is a participant and finalist of the #DevelopYourCommunity hackathon, organized by the UNDP Accelerator Lab together with the Digital Skills and Opportunities for Youth Employment in the Digital Economy project with financial support from the Russian Federation.

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