Eight Winners Ready to Change the World

Date: 08 July 2015
Other languages: Русский язык |

Eight winners of the Change the World Around You! competition received grants up to $3,400 each to implement innovative projects across Kyrgyzstan. The winners received their awards at a ceremony at the University of Central Asia (UCA) in Bishkek on 26 June 2015.

The young entrepreneurs also received certificates for the successful completion of social entrepreneurship training, delivered by UCA’s School of Professional and Continuing Education (SPCE) under UCA’s Empowering Youth for Socio-Economic Development Project, which aims to reduce unemployment and address pressing social issues for youth.

The third SPCE-Coca Cola competition received 660 applications, of which 20 finalists were selected to attend the social entrepreneurship programme.

Change the World Around You! encourages and equips young people to design and implement social entrepreneurial projects addressing community challenges. It is implemented in Kyrgyzstan by UCA with funding from Coca Cola and support from the Aga Khan Foundation. 

“The future of any society depends on its youth. Therefore, one of the key strategic objectives of Coca-Cola is to provide the youth of Kyrgyzstan with the opportunity to fully realise their potential in business. Coca-Cola invests in time, experience and resources to facilitate the development of prosperous and resilient societies within the countries in our sphere of operation,” said Erdinc Guzel, General Manager of Coca-Cola Bishkek Bottlers.

This is the third time the competition has been held in Kyrgyzstan. Following information sessions across the country, 20 finalists out of 660 applicants were selected to attend the social entrepreneurship programme at SPCE.

The programme covered social marketing, business communication and information technology, social entrepreneurship and business planning. Upon completing the programme, the finalists presented refined business plans to an independent selection panel.

The top eight project proposals were selected by a panel, which included representatives of the Ministry of Labour, Migration and Youth, the Ministry of Social Development, Coca Cola, Bay-Tushum Bank and the Aga Khan Foundation. Winning projects were selected based on job creation, financial sustainability and potential impact.

Some winning projects include a laundromat in Tosh Bulak village, Naryn to benefit area schools; safe river transportation in Jalal-Abad in the Karakol region and a home kindergarten programme in Karakol, Issyk-kul oblast.

“There is very little support for children with autism in our country, especially during childhood, when socialisation and adaptation are so important. My development centre will provide important support to kids with autism and their parents,” said Aigerim Otunchieva.

“I am from a small village which can only be reached by crossing a large river. This year alone, seven people have died crossing the river. With my grant, I will buy a boat and provide people with a safe way to cross the river,” said winner Takhmina Kadyrova.

“People say that my country of Azerbaijan is rich because we have oil. I now see that Kyrgyzstan is actually richer because it has such active and energetic youth who understand the social problems in their communities,” observed Emil Alesgerov, Country Marketing Manager at Coca Cola Bishkek Bottlers, at the award ceremony.

Since Change the World Around You! was launched in 2012, winners have established 22 operational enterprises, bringing their ideas to life. Winning projects in the past have included wheelchair accessible ramps to public institutions in Naryn, a fitness centre for the elderly with diabetes in Bishkek, a laundromat for people with disabilities in Bokonbaev village, a waste-paper collection and sorting initiative in Osh and a call centre employing the visually impaired in Bishkek.

“It is gratifying for us at UCA to see the progression from the generation of ideas and business plans to the creation of thriving enterprises that are making a difference in communities around the country,” said Gulnara Djunushalieva, Director SPCE.