Kyrgyz entrepreneur offers soft skills training to trigger developmentAigul Dogdurova established Aha.Kg to provide personal development and soft skills learning in Kyrgyz language. Her goal is to provide people with access to personal growth in a language that is relevant to the needs of local communities. She wants to trigger development in Kyrgyzstan by investing in soft skills.
Dogdurova’s ‘aha’ moment
Aigul Dogdurova started Aha.Kg in 2017 in response to the needs of the Kyrgyz community for personal and professional training. She is creating a space for people who are looking for personal growth and career development in their native language. To achieve her goal and to reach her audience, Dogdurova started a YouTube channel to publish useful content on personal growth and a Telegram channel for people to interact with the trainers via livestreamed sessions.
She believes that investment in human capital is critical to achieving positive transformation at the community level. "The idea came to me when I had an ‘aha’ moment on why Kyrgyz society doesn't change much despite all the investments into development programmes. The only reason is mindset, which we have as a result of the authoritarian style of parenting and education, especially in Kyrgyz speaking communities," she said.
Crisis forces business model rethink
Closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic have brought significant disruptions to all Aha.Kg offline activities. Dogdurova and her team stepped up their online training. They developed their services and launched corporate trainings for the business sector, adopting a business-to-business model, brining increased revenue to Aha.Kg. Even so, profits decreased because of the inflation caused by the pandemic.
The pandemic wasn’t the only test for Dogdurova. Pivoting from her career in the non-profit sector, she faced difficulties realizing her vision due to limited access to information and cultural barriers.
"In Kyrgyzstan, especially in Kyrgyz speaking communities, people are not used to paying for additional education, especially soft skills, which are not part of formal education. But things have changed and now we have our niche … my advice is to just start, it is a great way to open your eyes to your environment and yourself," she said.
Reaching out to the region
Dogdurova enjoys the unlimited chances for personal and professional growth that come from being an entrepreneur. She is looking forward to expanding and adapting her activities to other countries in the Central Asia region and wants to make sure that the kind of knowledge Aha.Kg offers is accessible to all post-soviet countries and available in the local languages.
"I am 100 per cent confident that knowledge about soft skills and personal growth is needed in all post-soviet countries, but very much in Central Asian countries. Thus, I would grow Aha.Kg in all countries in the region to make this knowledge available in their local languages," she said.
Dogdurova was one of the hundreds of women entrepreneurs from the Europe and Central Asia region that participated in UN Women's Women's Entrepreneurship Expo in April 2021 - a space to connect, create and accelerate business ideas and growth for women entrepreneurs amid COVID-19.