Empowering Youth for Regional Development

Date: 18 January 2018
Other languages: Русский язык |
Over 440 young people in Kazakhstan submitted their ideas for community development projects to the University of Central Asia (UCA) School of Professional and Continuing Education’s (SPCE) third Change the World Around You! competition. Five winning projects were awarded grants up to US$3,000 to launch their initiatives across the country on January 17th 2018. The winners were selected from sixteen finalists, who participated in a short-term entrepreneurship programme in Almaty prior to pitching their ideas to the selection committee. “This was an invaluable experience for us. We became very close, and in the process of training we created new ideas for future collaboration,” said Aigerim Saparova, a grant recipient.

One of the winning projects includes Hand in Hand, a centre for inclusive education in Petropavlovsk, Northern Kazakhstan, presented by Akjan Kerim. “I am sure, with your support of my project, we will expand our capabilities,” noted Kerim upon receiving the grant.


Akjan Kerim receives a grant of US$3,000 for his Hand in Hand project from Dr Bohdan Krawchenko, Dean of the Graduate School of Development at UCA.

Another grant winner in Almaty, Tamilya Anchutkina, is planning to launch a Digital Mama project to help mothers of young children gain IT skills and find remote work. Adlet Myrzagaliev’s social project involves opening gyms and offering specialised workouts for individuals with disabilities in Almaty. Other winners include Aigerim Saparova from Atyrau who plans to establish a center for children with mental disabilities, and Diana Kulakeeva from Shymkent who aims to create an online platform for children from vulnerable families.


The five winners of the competition. From L to R: Adlet Myrzagaliev, Akjan Kerim, Aigerim Saparova, Tamilya Anchutkina, Diana Kulakeeva.

Speaking at the event, Dr Bohdan Krawchenko, Dean of the Graduate School of Development at UCA said, “The programmes of UCA’s School of Professional and Continuing Education makes it possible for people to learn English, business and information technology, as well as entrepreneurial skills to enable them to make a meaningful impact in their local communities.” 

As part of this project, UCA had organised outreach workshops on social entrepreneurship for over 500 participants at universities and colleges in Tekeli, Taldykorgan and Almaty in Kazakhstan, as well as 1,600 participants in Naryn, Osh, Jalal-Abad, Karakol, Talas, Batken and Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan. Participants of these workshops were encouraged to join the competition. In addition, Dr. Gulnara Djunushalieva, SPCE Director, led professional development activities for university teachers to help them introduce Social Entrepreneurship as an elective course in all regional universities. The goal of these initiatives is to enhance the capacity of young people to identify key socio-economic needs in their communities, provide constructive solutions, and promote social entrepreneurship.

The Change the World Around You! contest is part of the Empowerment of Youth for Socio-Economic Development of the Country project. It is being implemented by UCA’s SPCE and is funded by the Coca-Cola Foundation and the Coca-Cola Company.

Last year, an independent external evaluation by the College of the Rockies (Canada) highlighted the impact of SPCE’s programmes over the past 10 years. Over 90% of the alumni said their goals to obtain skills for employment or admission to higher education were met; and 88% said it provided skills to enable them to remain in the community and contribute to its development.

The University of Central Asia was founded in 2000 as a private, not for profit, secular university through an International Treaty signed by the Presidents of the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan, and His Highness the Aga Khan; ratified by their respective parliaments, and registered with the United Nations. The Presidents are the Patrons of the University, and His Highness is the Chancellor. UCA’s mission is to promote the social and economic development of Central Asia, particularly its mountain communities, by offering an internationally recognised standard of higher education, and enabling the peoples of the region to preserve their rich cultural heritage as assets for the future. UCA brings with it the broader commitment and partnership of the Aga Khan Development Network.
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