During the week of November 17 – 21, 2014, the Republic of Tajikistan joined over 150 other countries around the world in celebrating Global Entrepreneurship Week.
Business associations, government officials, students, academics, entrepreneurs, international organizations and embassies all participated in GEW, run by host organization the American Chamber of Commerce, with the end goal of helping Tajikistan to reach its entrepreneurial potential. This was also the first year that GEW Tajikistan participated in the celebration of women in entrepreneurship, a day dedicated to supporting and promoting female entrepreneurship.
In July, with the support of GIZ, GEW Tajikistan held courses for university professors on how to teach business planning and entrepreneurship. In September, again with the support of GIZ, GEW Tajikistan held a course for aspiring entrepreneurs, also on the entrepreneurial process and business planning. All participants prepared business plans and the top five winners were announced during GEW.
Tajik National University, Tajik State University of Commerce and the Tajik Institute of Entrepreneurship and Service of Tajikistan all held conferences on entrepreneurship with international speakers and students on November 17, 18 and 19. The speakers included Evgeniya Usmanova, co-founder and COO of CareLuLu, a company that simplifies parents’ lives by helping navigate child care options while helping daycare businesses grow, Michael R. Lucey, entrepreneur and owner of The Burlington Hostel, and Luke Sherwin, co-founder of Casper, a sleep startup that relies on unique-engineering and supply chain management to sell a premium mattress at a third of the traditional retail cost. The Embassy of the United States in Tajikistan supported these events.
On November 18, a live, interactive videoconference at Tcell, the biggest mobile communications provider in Tajikistan, was held on "Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation on 2 Sides of the Planet", between students of universities of Tajikistan and the Anderson School of Management of the University of New Mexico in the USA. The event aimed to foster discussion between the two countries regarding improving their entrepreneurial ecosystems and fostering further collaboration. Out of this discussion, both sides’ eyes were opened to the differences of doing business in each country and one idea that was hatched was to send over to New Mexico a test case of Tajik traditional handicrafts to assess the market for such products in the US. Concurrently, the New Mexico is now building a website for the handicrafts so that they can be sold online.
The Sheraton Dushanbe Hotel hosted two conferences on November 21 with the aim of involving stakeholders in a multilateral dialogue for improving the entrepreneurial ecosystem. The morning session was "Entrepreneurship - the Engine of the Economy", and participants included representatives of government agencies, the business community and international financial institutions. The introductory speech was given by Susan Elliott, US Ambassador to Tajikistan. AmCham members, who are some of the top entrepreneurs in the country, also held an exhibition of their products and services.
The afternoon included an award ceremony for the winners of the competition “Top 5 Startups”, which was supported by GIZ and AmCham Tajikistan. As part of this initiative, various young entrepreneurs took part in the above-mentioned two-month training program on entrepreneurship and how to prepare successful business plans. The winning business projects included a fish farm, a dress company, a bakery, an online payment center and art development for children, and the winners received financial support for the development of their businesses.
Overall, GEW Tajikistan 2014 had more than 50 participating organizations, 14 activities, over 1000 participants and six articles published in the local media.
Moving forward, GEW Tajikistan plans to form a Board of Directors, extend planning and activities to other parts of the year, adopt more GEW global picks and bring GEW to new regions of the country beyond the capital.
More information about participation in events of Global Entrepreneurship Week can be found athttp://tj.gew.co.
Daniel Zaretsky is the Founder of Global Entrepreneurship Week Tajikistan.