What comes to mind when you think of Tajikistan?

Hmmm....Former Soviet republic. Civil war. Borders Afghanistan. Poverty.

 In the past 30 days, only two New York Times articles have mentioned this rugged mountainous country in Central Asia, but this colorful, culturally rich and economically poor country has many stories to tell.

The underlying current for many of these stories is pervasive and longstanding poverty. Tajikistan has the unfortunate superlative of being the poorest country in Central Asia and the former Soviet Union. Its GDP per capita is lower than Afghanistan's. But that doesn't define its people.

Here is just one of many of the untold stories from Tajikistan:

When Kamila Ismatova's husband got sick, she had to find a way to make money. With their "rainy day" savings she bought 10 kg of flour, and her son and daughter got up early to help her chop wood and bake 30 rounds of bread, which they sold to their neighbors.

As her business began to grow, Kamila started to look for additional funding to expand even more. Even though she was rejected by traditional banks due to her lack of financial history, she was able to find the resources she needed -- a loan of US$500 -- from Kiva Field Partner MDO Arvand.

Arvand not only lent Kamila the money she needed to transform part of her house into a bakery, it also offered her business consulting services and financial education classes to help her grow her business strategically and sustainably. On top of that, she was able to enroll in Arvand's micro-savings program, which helps borrowers save so that illness and unemployment aren't financially devastating.

As a result, Kamlia's productivity rose to 120 round breads a day, and her profits increased accordingly. With the extra money she was able to rent two hectares of land and begin growing grapes and apricots. Now, together with her children, she harvests crops of fruit trees and sells dried apricots through large stores.

Two years and four microfinance loans later, Kamila's bakery produces 300 to 400 round breads a day. She has made significant improvements to her family's quality of life and is an example of entrepreneurial success for her community.

Inspired by her mother's strength, her daughter has now decided to go to college to become a nurse.

Arvand and the Kiva community helped transform Kamila's story from one of sickness and desperation to one of hope, empowerment and success. You can lend to a hard working Tajikistan business owner today and help give them the resources they need to build a happier, stabler future for themselves, their communities and Tajikistan.

You can view all MDO Arvand borrowers on Kiva here.

Questions? Comments? Email us blog@kiva.org
<< Kiva Updates