Sandra Savanovic & Nenad Rakocevic
CEFistas from Serbia & Montenegro

CEFE International had an outstanding experience this year working with people from remote rural areas. CEFE business start-up training in Khorugh, Gor­no-Badakhshan Autonomous Re­gion (GBAO), Tajikistan, included 17 people who successfully com­pleted an 8-day training. The par­ticipants were entrepreneurs and prospective entrepreneurs from Khorugh; a majority of them came from remote rural areas of Pamir.

Travelling to the Khorugh is a real adventure – it takes full four days to come from Europe to Khorugh, and along the way, all four seasons are experienced. Flights to Tajikistan are not abundant and most of them are connecting flights with hubs in the Middle East. Nevertheless, true excitement starts when you arrive to Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan. Even though is it is only 550km, two days of travel are necessary to pass the road from Dushanbe to Khorugh.

The road from Dushanbe to Khorugh passes through very high mountains. In one moment, you reach 3,500 meters above the sea level and finish your journey at 2,500 meters. There are a lot of bends, not much asphalt and a good view of Afghanistan, which is just across the Pyandzh River. Khorugh is a fascinating city. Views are incredible and you can see the snowy peaks of Pamir from any point in the city.

Participants have never experienced anything similar to the CEFE experiential learning and they fall in love with it from the very beginning. The first “wow” effect happened in the first session when trainers facilitated the rules of training and asked participants to sign the “CEFE contract.” The participants have never had such an opportunity. Regardless of their educational background, they have been more and more fascinated by the CEFE world after each exercise, and their decisiveness to start their business has grown. Business ideas generally fit into the local market environment like Pamir’s handicrafts, transportation, small trade (mini-markets and pharmacies), as well as tourism oriented businesses (since many tourists come to GBAO to visit Pamir during summer).

Definitely the most interesting part of training was the creativity exercises. There is no word in the local language that describes a concept similar to creativity. Therefore, participants tried to get out of the box (they said to go out of the triangle) and solve creative brainteasers that were given by the trainers.

Get out of the triangle” became the motto of the whole training and was repeated dozens of times a day. During the eight days, participants successfully passed CEFE ladders – starting from the business idea to market research, to marketing, to internal organization and ending with basic finance.

At the very end, participants gave trainers a great surprise. They wrote and all signed a letter addressed to GIZ high-level representatives in Tajikistan asking for more CEFE and expressed how they looked forward to learning more from the CEFE trainers.

Bright futures are ahead for CEFE in Tajikistan and the GBAO region. We are so happy and grateful to be part of it!

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