Please activate JavaScript!
Please install Adobe Flash Player, click here for download


11akzente 4/15 TEXT helen sibum  photos FREYA MORALES S hahlo Burhanova has just 10 days to complete 9,000 school uniforms. If that makes her nervous, she doesn’t let it show. The 40-year-old entrepreneur walks calmly through her tailoring workshop in a long turquoise dress, bends down to talk to an employee, holds up a small checked waistcoat to inspect. Each school has a differ- ent uniform designed by Burhanova herself. The design process is her favourite part of her work. She started her own business in Shaar- tuz, in southwestern Tajikistan, just a few months ago. She actually wanted to make wedding dresses, but was then awarded this major contract for 25,000 uniforms for 56 schools. The wedding dresses will have to wait. Being flexible, making the most of op- portunities and being realistic about what you can deliver are lessons Burhanova has learned gradually from training courses on how to start your own business. These courses are offered by GIZ on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, with finan- cial support from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Develop- ment. As a self-employed businesswomen, Burhanova is part of a small but growing group in Tajikistan with enormous promise. These start-ups could play a key role in the country’s economic development. Tajikistan is among the least developed of the former Soviet states. The civil war from 1992 to 1997 compounded the country’s economic decline, and its effects can be felt to this day. Consequently, many people look for work abroad, mainly in Russia. The money they send home accounts for almost half of the country’s gross domestic product. No other country in the world is as dependent on re- mittances. Expert tips for business plans A comprehensive support programme has therefore been initiated in this area. It aims to stimulate the private sector and create jobs – not least because many migrant workers are returning home from Russia, owing to the economic situation there, to conditions which are no less uncertain. ‘Our main focus is on jobs and higher incomes, in as many parts of the country as possible,’ says pro- gramme manager Hagen Ettner. Supporting start-ups is an important component in this approach. Entrepreneurs receive training and ongoing support. They learn how to develop » business plans and market their products. GIZ also advises microfinance organisations in the country. For the first time, they are of- fering microcredits for start-ups. Previously, financial support was only available to exist- ing businesses. Because capital is expensive and infla- tion high in Tajikistan, the interest on mi- crocredit is considerable – as is the case in many developing countries. Burhanova bor- rowed the equivalent of around EUR 35,000 at an interest rate of 26 per cent. She is therefore keen to repay the loan long be- fore the end of the two-year term. ‘If possi- ble, after six months,’ she says, while the fin- ishing touches are made to more uniforms on sewing machines around her. Most of her 40 plus employees previously worked for themselves from home. Here, they earn around EUR 400 per month, more than three times the average income. Burhanova wants to employ her seamstresses on a Left-hand page: Wedding dream – Oihon Tojieva in her bridal shop. This page: Picture of calm – entrepreneur Shahlo Burhanova (left) opened her tailoring workshop just a few months ago and has already received her first major contract. Anzhela Sarkisyan (right) runs a private preschool.