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13akzente 4/15 > AT A GLANCE More than 3,000 businesses have been launched since 2011 with support from GIZ, around 40 per cent of these by women. Approximately 6,000 new jobs have been created. The programme is implemented by GIZ on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, with financial support from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development. In addition to start-ups, the project promotes dialogue between businesses and administrations as well as economic relations with the neighbouring countries of Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan. The programme also provides advice to ministries and institutions, and supports an agricultural extension service for farmers. Their yields have increased by a quarter. New ideas for Tajikistan > Contact Hagen Ettner > think. ‘State kindergartens are overcrowded. It’s impossible to prepare children for school there.’ Many parents paid for extra tuition, which can be expensive, just so that their children could meet the requirements. When Sarkisyan heard about GIZ’s start-up competition in mid-2014, she wast- ed no time in applying. She took part in training activities and presented her concept to the panel of judges. In the end, she was one of five winners to receive financial sup- port. ‘I want to showcase children’s talents,’ she says of her philosophy. In addition to the usual subjects, she and her four teachers therefore also offer chess and drama lessons for their 30 pupils. Sarkisyan also discovered hidden talents of her own: ‘I didn’t realise the extent of my organisational skills. I now know that there’s much more I can achieve.’ The parents of her pupils often ask if she can also offer some- thing for the younger siblings. A kindergar- ten as well as the preschool? Yes, that may well be her next venture. ness becomes profitable, her family is living on the income generated by her husband, who runs a gift shop. This is not made any easier by the fact that he also has to support his two sisters. Nonetheless, things are going well for Tojieva. Every day, she has an average of three customers, who each spend around EUR 250. Weddings are big occasions in Tajik- istan. So much so that the government has limited the number of guests to 150 because too many families were getting into debt as a result of organising celebrations they could not afford. Tojieva is aware of this. ‘I want to offer every woman a package which fits her needs.’ The most expensive dress – which costs almost EUR 450 to hire – therefore rarely leaves the shop. Very few people can af- ford to buy a dress in Tajikistan, especially since three outfits are required for a wedding: one for the pre-wedding celebration, one for the wedding itself and one for the first visit to the bride’s parents, which takes place one or two days after the wedding. No tradition of starting your own business There are still some issues that Tojieva wants to address. Her wedding wonderland is hot. It is 40 degrees Celsius outside, and the fans she has arranged in the spacious premises provide little relief from the heat. She needs an air conditioning system and a fridge with drinks for the soon-to-be husbands, but her finances don’t stretch to that at the moment. ‘We have great plans, but there are so many challenges,’ she says, wiping her forehead. There is no tradition of starting your own business in Tajikistan, which for many years was defined by its centrally planned economy. When self-employed business owners approach authorities, they are often met by a furrowed brow. The general as- sumption is that, ‘you won’t make it any- way.’ There is also a lack of transparency with regard to taxation and other regula- tions. Time and again, small businesses have to pay incomprehensible amounts of tax or undergo repeated inspections. The financial support for start-ups therefore gives them the confidence they need to assert their po- sition vis-à-vis authorities. On the outskirts of Khujand, Tajikistan’s second-largest city, situated in the far north of the country, the training courses were also a real eye-opener for entrepreneur Anzhela Sarkisyan. ‘I used to think that the only thing I could do was teach,’ says the 36-year-old. Today, she runs her own preschool. This morning, a slow trickle of children make their way through the wooden door. They say goodbye to their parents, take off their shoes and enter the former residential building which Sarkisyan has converted into a school. Everything is brightly coloured, the shelves are full of books and toys. Sarkisyan has to peer over her baby bump to greet the children – she is expecting her fourth child. Mehri Yusupova, one of the teachers, ushers the older children into her classroom, where they sit at low tables for two. Time for Eng- lish. ‘What is the capital of Great Britain?’ asks Yusupova, and a sea of children quickly raise their hands. Sarkisyan, a pair of sunglasses perched on top of her head, stands in the doorway and smiles. Before she opened her own pre- school, she worked in a kindergarten for ten years. What she experienced there made her IN THE SPOTLIGHT