In the words of Madina Sadirdinova: “Respect your initiatives and ideas, and turn them into business”
Madina Sadirdinova, a 28 year-old woman entrepreneur from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, founded "Sebet" market. The initial idea was simple yet profound: to connect farmers directly with urban consumers, cutting out intermediaries and fostering transparent communication. The concept aimed to bridge the gap and provide city dwellers access to organic farm produce while creating a direct channel between producers and consumers. Ms. Sadirdinova is a former participant in the regional EXPO Capital Quest held in Istanbul in June 2023.
At first, we launched a website where visitors could find a producer and place orders, but the idea worked poorly. Our consumers wanted to feel, see the color, taste, and smell the produce, and the online platform evolved into a physical shop.
To select tomatoes, for example, we cooperate with the Dyikan Muras network of seed growers in Chui region of Kyrgyzstan, who grow them from natural local seeds. We receive orders in Bishkek city through our Instagram page. Two to three times a week, the produce is brought to our market in the morning, and our customers pick them up. We can also send them by courier. This is the concept of Sebet Market, where without intermediaries, farmers provided a high quality service, and city dwellers get the produce at its best quality.
Farmers need to know the taste and preferences of consumers. No one explained to them earlier what variety is most loved in the city. Last year, we held a tomato tasting for Bishkek residents, where the "Princess" variety won by voting. And this is not just about tomatoes; this is how we found out, for example, what volume is more convenient for packing cereals. Farmers did not know for whom they grew their produce and sent to the markets, and buyers did not know who toiled, worked in the fields, produced these products for them.
How do we find farmers? Our first suppliers were the women of the Dyikan Muras cooperative, and one network covered the whole of Kyrgyzstan: from Jalal-Abad region, we received walnuts; the Osh region sent us rice, and Issyk-Kul provided dried herbs.
In April, we launched the "Cow on the Balcony" project. Several urban families buy a cow, give it to farmers who take care of it, process dairy products, and once a week, send milk, kefir, sour cream, and cottage cheese to the city. The families will receive these products until the investment is recouped, and at the end of the project, the cow remains with the farmers. For us, this is a perfect model for a social project, and we want more families in Bishkek to participate in it.
We promote our concept on social networks, and we have regular customers. On the labels, we write who the producer of each product is. Each product carries a story: where it came from, who grew it, who produced it.
As women entrepreneurs, we were in search of networking, venues, opportunities and support. That’s how I found out about Women’s Entrepreneurship EXPO last summer. As selected participants of EXPO, we received training and consultations on finance, reporting, marketing, and strategy development in autumn 2022.
During the preparation stage, I got to know businesswomen from all regions of Kyrgyzstan. We listened to each other, identified our weaknesses and strengths, and generously exchanged advice and moral support. Not everyone received a financial offer at the time, but it was a tremendous opportunity to showcase ourselves and see where we could grow.
In the middle of 2023, as one of two participants from each country, I was selected and invited for the regional EXPO Capital Quest in Istanbul. I got to know women entrepreneurs from Central Asia and Europe, and there were projects that I truly admired.
After the regional EXPO, I realized that if a woman entrepreneur seeks investment, her business must have good potential. You have to show investors that your business has a future. You have to present a stable financial picture of your business: the clearer it is how much you have invested, how much you are working, who your competitors are, who your customers are, what your advantages are, the better.
But it’s not just about seeking money; you also need to invest in yourself, learn English to understand global trends. As an entrepreneur, it is important to plan everything in advance and offer your product to the market at the right moment.
I would advise new participants of Women’s Entrepreneurship EXPO 2023 satellite event not to be afraid and to bravely present their projects. We invest our time, knowledge and energy, so let us respect our initiatives and ideas, turn them into business, and seek investments for your global dreams and plans”.
Launched in 2021, the Women’s Entrepreneurship EXPO is a unique partnership platform to promote women’s entrepreneurship ecosystem building in the Europe and Central Asia region. EXPO provides an interactive space for women entrepreneurs, investors and private sector representatives for networking and collaboration, peer learning, ideas generation, capacity building and business development. EXPO 2023 is organized by UN Women Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia in partnership with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Yıldız Holding as part of the Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator supported by Mary Kay.