Ayzada is 35 years old and comes from Karakol, the fourth largest city in Kyrgyzstan. As a mother of three, Ayzada was looking for ways to teach her children about Kyrgyz traditions, customs, and history. However, she discovered that there was no such material available on the market. She decided to fill this gap and developed the idea for her own children’s book: Oinobook. Ayzada’s book, which is handmade from felt, represents the culture, nature, and wildlife of Kyrgyzstan and aims to help children (and parents) to explore Kyrgyz customs and traditions through tactile experience. Ayzada had come up with a brilliant idea but didn’t know how to turn her dream into reality: she soon realised that she needed support to learn more about entrepreneurship.
Things began to change when Ayzada saw a Facebook advert by Enactus Kyrgyzstan and attended an outreach event, where she learned about the Creative Spark and Youth Business Kyrgyzstan programmes. In February 2019, Ayzada enrolled in the second cohort of Youth Business Kyrgyzstan and was paired with her mentor, Gulsana Abdygulova, who runs a popular children’s shopping centre in Bishkek, the Kyrgyz capital. This was a perfect match for Ayzada as her mentor was a woman and had experience in the market she was trying to enter. Gulsana understood Ayzada’s vision for her book and the two connected well: she helped Ayzada grow her confidence and belief that her dream can become a reality. Together, they analysed the current market for children’s books and researched where to get materials for producing the book. In addition to being mentored, Ayzada also received training in design and marketing.
With the confidence and knowledge gained from the Youth Business Kyrgyzstan programme, Ayzada enrolled in the Creative Spark Business Ideas Contest – a challenge part of the British Council’s Creative Spark Higher Education Enterprise Programme, which is aimed at supporting young creative entrepreneurs in six countries across Central Asia and South Caucasus as well as in Ukraine. As one of the participating institutions in this programme, Enactus Kyrgyzstan was able to connect Ayzada to this opportunity. She participated in training on creative entrepreneurship and creative economy and was crowned country winner for Kyrgyzstan. As such, she won £3,000 to invest in her business and had the opportunity to travel to the UK to compete on the international level. In September 2019, Ayzada spent a week in Oxford and London for the Big Ideas Challenge 2019, where she received more training in creative entrepreneurship and pitched her business idea to investors. Although Ayzada didn’t win the international contest, she’s incredibly proud of her achievements and learned a lot from the experience.
After participating in the competition, Oinobook caught the attention of the Kyrgyz press and Ayzada received an influx of orders via her Instagram page. Since each book is handmade, she realised she needed help to keep up with the orders and turned this into an opportunity to share her success with other women: Ayzada is currently training five women in the remote Issy-Kul region of Kyrgysztan to sew the books. The women are learning a new skill and earning an income – Ayzada ordered 100 books from them! Her plans for the future are ambitious: She is planning to create two more editions of Oinobook as well as carpets for kindergartens that will teach children the alphabet in a playful way and help them develop their motor skills.
Her piece of advice for young entrepreneurs is:
“Believe in yourself and just start! There will never be the prefect moment or the perfect day. Your idea can and must change to become a reality.”