Landscape with mountains in Tajikistan

Tahmina’s Business Stands the Test of Time

Tahmina is starting 2024 with a hard-earned title: businesswoman. Her journey to entrepreneurship was filled with starts, stops, lessons, and achievements. These days, Tahmina can support her family through her business, and she is meeting a community need. It is a far cry from where she found herself in the mid-2010s with a college degree and scant employment prospects.

Growing up in the Gorno-Badakhshan region of Tajikistan, education was always important to Tahmina. Tajikistan has high literacy and high school graduation rates, and most young people strive to complete their higher education. However, the region is economically depressed, and finding employment is challenging. This translates not only to difficulty meeting daily expenses but also to the fear of not being able to provide further education for the next generation. These are among the chief reasons that Central Asia Institute focuses on providing scholarships, supporting school infrastructure, and entrepreneurship training in the region.

Tahmina was introduced to Central Asia Institute in 2019 at their inaugural Financial Literacy Training. During this program, she gained new skills and tools for managing her finances and began crafting a vision for a small business. Encouraged to start with her existing skills and interests, Tahmina began selling traditional sour bread to friends and family. This humble beginning gave Tahmina important knowledge about procurement, costing, supply, demand, and timing. In further trainings with CAI, Tahmina made important connections between her initial real-world business experience and the more advanced training topics.

Tahmina presents her baked goods at a CAI training event.

Tahmina presents her baked goods at a CAI training event.

In the midst of growing her business, Tahmina and her husband were raising their two children, and spreading word about her business. CAI recognized her hard work and continued commitment and supported her with a grant in the form of a modern oven. This made the cooking process much more efficient and manageable.

“I worked from home and slowly expanded my business into a small baking workshop. I knew that I needed a business plan but had lacked the knowledge to create one. Through the CAI training program, I built a business plan and applied for more equipment to grow my business.” Since adding additional equipment, Tahmina has expanded her offerings to include Tandoori bread and other delectable baked goods.

It has now been more than four years since Tahmina began her baking business, and the change is stark. From the despair of unemployment to becoming a proud business owner, Tahmina feels immense gratitude for her journey. “I feel very proud to be financially independent and able to support my family and kids. To all of the CAI team and donors, thank you for walking me through this process.”

An example of traditional Tajik baked goods.

An example of traditional Tajik baked goods.

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