Passport Series: Kiva success stories from the heart of Tajikistan

In this last installment of the Passport Series focused on Tajikistan, we wanted to share with you a few success stories from the field.

Meet Nafisa.

A 29-year-old mother of two, Nafisa lives in the town of Jabar Rasulov in Tajikistan. When she was younger, family circumstances prevented her from attending college. But she was determined to find a rewarding career, and decided to apply her talents as a cook -- a skill she’d learned from her mother.

In 2005, Nafisa and her husband opened a small restaurant in the center of town. In the beginning, work was tough. A tight budget kept the restaurant understaffed, and Nafisa worked tirelessly preparing food, washing dishes and cleaning up while her husband worked as the only server. Through all of this, Nafisa still managed to devote time to her kids.

Eventually, she realized that the restaurant would need more funding in order to grow and become successful. That’s when a friend told her about a local microfinance organization called Arvand -- one of Kiva's three partner organizations in Tajikistan. And that, Nafisa says, is when her life changed for the better.

Starting with her first loan in 2008, she was able to expand the restaurant. Now she employs four waitresses, one supplier, two dishwashers and two cooks. Business is going well and Nafisa’s financial situation has improved substantially. Her children are able to pursue higher education, and Nafisa has made repairs to the family house and has even purchased a car. Today, she remembers those difficult early days with a smile, and appreciates everything the financing from Arvand helped her family accomplish.

Arvand is one of the leading microfinance institutions in the country. Since the start of its partnership with Kiva a little over a year ago, the organization has disbursed over $540,000 in loans from Kiva lenders to more than 645 entrepreneurs in Tajikistan.

Meet Dilovar.

Dilovar's family has always wondered where his great attraction to music and musical instruments came from. It was an unusual trait for the second son of a family of shepards. When he was little, as soon as he heard music, Dilovar would stop everything and run to the radio. He kept telling his parents that he wanted to learn how to play a musical instrument, but they thought it was a child’s fancy. In their remote village, the only instruments Dilovar ever saw were on TV.

After graduating from high school, Dilovar went into business with his father in animal husbandry. And when it became difficult to support the family, he went to Russia to look for work. Eventually, he was able to get a job working in a jazz club in Moscow. There, he met a saxophone player that gave him free music lessons, and his dream started to come true. But when his parents were not able to take care of his siblings, Dilovar had to return to his village to take up farming and sheparding again.

One day, Dilovar shared his childhood dream of playing music with a neighbor who advised him to apply for a loan through microfinance institution Humo and Partners -- another Kiva partner in Tajikistan. In March 2012, after consulting with his father, Dilovar applied for a loan of $500 and bought a clarinet.

Now in his village -- where there is no electricity during autumn and winter periods -- no wedding is held without Dilovar. In December 2012, he was invited to a local school for a children's Christmas party, and people from all over the village came to listen to his music.

"For me, Humo is really a bird of happiness," says Dilovar. "I am doing what I really love to do and thereby earning money, so what could be better in life."

Now he has a new goal: to buy a saxophone, hopefully as soon as this March.

Humo and Partners has been working with Kiva for more than five years and has disbursed close to $4.8 million in loans to more than 5,350 entrepreneurs. Recently, with funds from Kiva lenders, Humo was able to launch a new start-up loan program focused on providing loans to entrepreneurs who want to start or restart small businesses but can't afford the upfront costs.

This is the last of a three-part series looking at microfinance and Kiva's operations in Tajikistan. We hope you'll consider lending to a borrower in what is now the poorest country in Central Asia. A loan as small as $25 can make a huge difference for an entrepreneur or family. Make a loan in Tajikistan today by clicking here. And new Kiva users who make their first loan in Tajikistan will receive a $25 bonus to make another loan for free!

About the author

Esther Honig

Esther Honig was born in San Francisco, but raised in Denver Colorado. In 2009 after graduating from high school, Esther lived in Mexico City where she studied Spanish, Latin American Literature and History at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. In 2010 Esther enrolled at Mills College where she was reintroduced to the vibrant culture of the San Francisco Bay Area. Esther considers herself a lifelong student of the arts and culture. Since the age of eight she has pursued dance, classical ballet and modern-contemporary, as both a passion and a creative outlet granting her insight and experience into the creative process. Esther has found her latest passion in radio journalism. In 2011-2012 she studied under KALW director Holly Kernan to produce two radio documentary pieces, both of which have aired on KALW. In May 2012 she graduated with honors from Mills College with a degree in Spanish, Spanish-American Studies. Honig applies he knack for language in the area of literary translations where she works with poetry and novels that have never before been translated. In the future Esther hopes to pursue opportunities in journalism and translations.