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Tajikistan: A land of resilient and resourceful people

After the breakup of the Soviet Union, the new republics had varying degrees of success in adapting to the introduction of capitalism. Tajikistan struggled more than most, compounded by the fact that it suffered a five-year civil war soon after declaring independence. By 1997, a half-million people had fled the country to avoid persecution and poverty. Many ended up in Russia, and the exodus continues to this day. 

Although the country is stable now, every year hundreds of thousands of Tajiks work abroad in Russia and other countries as opportunities in Tajikistan are limited. Over a quarter of the entire GDP of the nation consists of remittances from Tajiks working in foreign countries, one of the highest remittance rates in the world. Although the money is needed, having one’s spouse or parent absent only adds to the hardship of living in one of the poorest post-Soviet states. 

However, the Tajiks are a resilient and resourceful people. With 93% of the country covered by mountainous terrain, the remaining 7% is put to good use as farmland. Agriculture accounts for nearly half of the workforce and contributes a quarter of the nation’s GDP. 

As Tajikistan is one of the smaller post-Soviet states, it is often overlooked and sometimes struggles to find funding on Kiva. However, their need is unquestionable. As I write this, there are 322 loans funding in Tajikistan, and you can help them by clicking here.  

As a Kiva Fellow, I met a number of Kiva borrowers who received loans to buy a cow or sheep that could be kept outside the home to supplement the family’s income. I learned that these purchases would not have been possible without a loan, and the resulting increase in income is truly welcome. 

One example of a deserving woman is Mehri, shown below. She started with just one cow and has been increasing her livestock over the years. When I met her she was extremely enthusiastic about the Kiva program and the opportunities it has given her to reliably provide for her family. She wanted me to express just how appreciative she is to the Kiva lenders.  

Agriculture is not the only way to make a living in Tajikistan. Services account for 40% of the labor force, and many of these workers are independent entrepreneurs that could not have succeeded without a Kiva loan. Take Muazzamma for instance. After her husband died, she knew that she had to find a way to support her children. She decided that she had what it takes to open her own little convenience store to sell snacks and other goods to her community. She had some initial success, but in order to grow her business she decided to ask the generous Kiva lenders for their support. When I visited her, she wanted me to express how grateful she is to the Kiva lenders for having faith in her and helping her make her hard work pay off.

Our microfinance partners, IMON International and Arvand, are doing great work by helping out borrowers like Mehri and Muazzamma. Others want to follow in their footsteps too, and you can help them by continuing to back loans in Tajikistan here.  Trust me, they can’t thank you enough.

About the author

Kevin Dougherty

Kevin was born in the U.S. in Missouri. He pursued his undergraduate education at Georgetown University, majoring in Finance in Accounting. At Georgetown he was active in AIESEC, an organization dedicated to peace and positive impact through personal development and shared global experiences. He obtained his CPA certification while working in New York and promptly decided to travel around the world for two years, living mainly in developing countries. Upon moving to California, he worked in accounting, financial audit, and internal controls, with assignments that frequently involved international travel. Having learned about microfinance at Georgetown, Kevin has always been intrigued by the concept and finally decided to enter the field. In order to obtain lending experience, Kevin worked for four years as the Quality Assurance Manager at an independent mortgage company in San Diego. When he learned about the Kiva Fellowship, he knew it was the perfect opportunity to put his past skills and experience to work. His ultimate goal is to combine his love of business, travel, cultural experiences, and social entrepreneurship into a lasting and meaningful career.