Six Kyrgyz Youth Change the World!
‘Change the World Around You!’ is a social entrepreneurship competition for youth in Central Asia. The contest funds and trains young people to design and implement projects that will improve the quality of life in their communities.
In 2014, six winners in the Kyrgyz Republic were awarded $2,200 (120,000kgs) each. They also received social entrepreneurship training from the University of Central Asia’s School of Professional and Continuing Education to help them strengthen their proposals and implement their projects. The projects reflect the ideas and energy of these young social entrepreneurs and address a range of issues, including health, education and environmental sustainability.
Aigerim Sakieva is implementing her Green City project in Osh, a garbage collection project designed to diminish pollution. Green City will establish a company to collect and dispose of paper waste from 15 educational facilities in Osh, and will foster a culture of civic responsibility in the city.
“In Osh, 80,000 tons of waste are generated by organisations and educational institutions. In my own schoolyard, both students and janitorial staff dispose of waste in the Osh River. In addition to causing environmental damage, these practices are unhygienic,” explains Sakieva.
Asel Baidyldaeva is implementing Sports for Life in Bishkek, the first fitness centre in the country for diabetes patients. In the Kyrgyz Republic, there are 37,000 registered patients with type 2 diabetes. Many are elderly and come from low-income families that cannot afford to access sports and training facilities which can provide a vital component of their treatment.
Baidyldaeva describes Sports for Life, “My project partner, the Bishkek City Endocrinology Dispensary, is providing a free workout space. I will hire a trained coach to provide therapeutic exercise sessions three times a week for 72 patients. The project will also monitor blood sugar levels and signs of improved health in participants.”
Valerii Grishin is bringing workplace transformation to the Kyrgyz Republic, with his call centre, staffed primarily by persons with visual impairments. Disability benefits in the Kyrgyz Republic fall short of providing financially security.
“Around the world, creative workplace transformations have empowered people with disabilities and provided opportunities for self-reliance,” explains Grishin, “I will start a call centre in Bishkek to conduct market research and provide information support. In addition to meeting the growing economic demand for this industry, my project will create jobs and a sense of professional pride for people with disabilities.”
Nurgul Karaeeva is developing the Psycho-Pedagogical Centre in the Nookat region of Osh, to address the need for a learning space designed for children with disabilities.
“In Osh, there are over 800 children with disabilities. All of them require an educational process that is inclusive and accessible, but only five percent of them attend special schools available in distant cities. As many as 85 percent of these children do not attend school at all,” says Karaeva.
The Centre will provide classes in computer literacy, arts and crafts, mathematics and Russian language and reading comprehension. It will also offer psychological assistance and social support for students and their families, including guidance on long-term development and economic independence.
Rustamjon Kuldashev is developing a banya or bathing facilities, for miners in Sulukta, a remote region of the Kyrgyz Republic where coal mining is the primary industry, and over 1.5 tons of coal is processed daily.
“After a hard day, at least 1,000 miners commute home without bathing, due to the absence of bathing facilities near the mines. This is not ideal or safe for them or for those they come in contact with,” explains Kuldashev, “My project will provide miners with the first public banya in town, where they can wash after work, reducing the risk of disease for themselves and others.”
Samatbek Monoldorov is developing a laundromat for vulnerable citizens in Bokonbaev village, where most residents do not have water lines in their homes and cannot install washing machines. Many women wash clothes by hand in their yards after collecting and boiling water from the street. This is particularly difficult during the winter.
“My project will provide an accessible laundry facility in Bokonbaev. The facility will be open to the public for a reasonable fee, and will be free of charge to over 200 vulnerable residents registered with the Department of Social Protection,” says Monoldorov, “Employees for the facility will also be selected from registered families, and any profits will be donated to underprivileged children in Bokonbaev.”
The Change the World Around You! contest is implemented by the University of Central Asia with support from the Aga Khan Foundation and in partnership with the International Academy of Business (in Kazakhstan). The social entrepreneurship contest and projects are funded by the Coca-Cola Foundation and Coca Cola Bishkek Bottlers under the “Empowering Youth for Socioeconomic Development in the Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, and Afghanistan” project. Phase I was launched in July 2012 in the Kyrgyz Republic with nine winners receiving grants of up to $3,000 to implement social entrepreneurship projects in their communities. Phase II is currently underway in the Kyrgyz Republic and Kazakhstan.