UCA News - Issue 100
SPCE Tourism alumni run successful crafts business in Khorog
Six alumni from the University of Central Asia’s, School of Professional and Continuing Education (SPCE) Mountain Tour Operator (MTO) programme have established a cooperative to sell traditional Pamiri crafts.
“The courses in management and marketing were critical to the company’s development and success and support from the NGO Madina made it possible for us to complete the necessary administrative processes and manage legal issues,” said Fariza Abduloeva, coordinator and salesperson at Layoqat Cooperative.
The initial idea to establish the cooperative came from a casual conversation between an SPCE graduate working as a guide and a foreign tourist. The cooperative would serve the local demand for souvenirs, while also supporting artisans. Six SPCE alumni contributed shares to form the Layoqat Cooperative and are now officially working as director, deputy director, accountant and partners responsible for procuring crafts and operating the shop in central Khorog.
Abduloeva, a geographer by profession, took the SPCE MTO programme because she wanted to enrich her knowledge and work with tourists. Her work at Layoqat takes her to remote mountain communities to search for handicrafts, which she described as the most difficult challenge when they first set up the business.
“Handicraft traditions are passed down from generation to generation and skilled craftspeople can be difficult to find. So, in addition to travelling to remote communities, we now help train craftspeople to producing items that tourists would purchase,” said Fairiza Abduloeva.
The SPCE Mountain Tour Operator programme has created lasting ties between alumni. Abduloeva and SPCE Alumni Coordinator Rashid Asanov. They both completed the course together, and fondly recall the group’s first camping trip midway through the programme.
"Today, alumni work in all spheres of mountain tourism, from operating tour companies in Dushanbe to serving as guides in Badakhshan. This allows them to frequently work together and help one another," said Rashid Asanov.