New generation of empowered women in Tajikistan show the way forward

Last month I had an opportunity to meet two Kiva borrowers in Khujand, Tajikistan’s second largest city, a city with a long and rich history. Both borrowers are young and ambitious women. Both of their loans were facilitated by one of Kiva’s partners in the country, IMON International.

Mavjuda, who just turned 20, is currently studying in a medical school with a dream of becoming a midwife and eventually opening her own private clinic for women. When we met at one of IMON’s offices in the city, Mavjuda was shy at first, but she began to smile and speak more freely when sharing her dreams and hopes for the future. Paying college tuition can put a strain on most families’ budgets, so many people in Tajikistan choose to take a loan to send their kids to university or vocational college. An interesting fact: it was Mavjuda’s mother, herself a client of IMON, who recommended this long-standing partner of Kiva to her daughter. Naturally, Mavjuda heeded her mom’s good advice. Once her loan was published on Kiva, 19 Kiva lenders helped to fund Mavjuda’s tuition fee for one year at the medical school.

Mavjuda, 20

Marhabokhon, 21, has had a dream of becoming a fashion designer since she was a child. Three years ago she entered Khujand State University and began to study design. Well into her third year of studies she felt confident enough to realise her plan of opening a fashion atelier. A part of her family house was remodelled into a workshop where Marhabokhon meets with clients, discusses designs with them, takes measurements and makes new clothes. In order to start her new business Marhabokhon did a thorough research on a number of microfinance institutions operating in Khujand and settled on a loan from IMON International. Forty Kiva lenders helped to backfill Marhabokhon’s loan on the website. Marhabokhon was surprised and visibly moved when I gave her a print-out of her profile page on, featuring a list of borrowers who supported her dream. “May I keep it?” she asked. This summer Marhabokhon is running a three-months training course at her workshop for two young apprentices – she herself learned her skills as an apprentice a few years back. She also employs two seamstresses who help to fulfil her customers’ orders. “This is a first atelier of this class in Khujand,” she says proudly. Marhabokhon dreams of having professional models demonstrating her clothes on fashion podiums around the world in a few years from now. Meanwhile she is focused on developing her business and completing her education. She is confident that she will manage to accomplish both.

Marhabokhon, 21

Young entrepreneurs, professionals and students like Mavjuda and Marhabokhon – ambitious women who dare to dream big – are what move forward the economic and social development of Tajikistan, inspiring and empowering a new generation of its young citizens along the way. If you want to support their dreams, you can browse through the currently fundraising loans on Kiva and discover other amazing stories of hope and ambition among them.

About the author

Oleg Izyumenko

Oleg was born in Southern Russia, spent five years working in Moscow, but has been living in Sweden since 2006. He spent a few years working for international environmental non-profits, including Greenpeace, WWF and For about a decade Oleg was active in the international youth climate movement, where he helped train new climate advocates and ensure a strong youth participation at the UN climate talks. Back in 2009, he co-founded a social enterprise, Wake-Up Call, that works to inspire a new generation of young leaders working for a more sustainable, peaceful and equitable world for all. These days Oleg lives in the city of Gävle in Northern Sweden, where he works part-time at the municipal energy company as a sales representative, while also teaching Swedish, English, Social Studies and Natural Sciences at the local community college. As an educator and a life-long student himself, Oleg is very passionate about teaching and believes that education is a vital component in improving people's lives and alleviating poverty. Oleg enjoys travelling abroad, discovering local cultures and meeting different people. He spent one summer in Japan, learning Japanese, and hopes to live and work abroad again in the future.