Helping Women’s Crisis Centers in the Kyrgyz Republic Become Sustainable
In the Kyrgyz Republic, domestic violence increased by 12% from 2020 to 2021, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs for a reported 10,151 cases of domestic violence. Experts agree unreported cases make the actual number much higher. This month, USAID announced a $1.1 million investment in preventing and assisting survivors of gender-based violence. USAID is teaming up with 11 crisis centers and other civil society groups in the country. But, how do the efforts of these centers become sustainable? One way is by helping them become small, social businesses that employ women who have experienced violence.
Spreading Awareness of Gender-Based Violence
Last November, during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, one crisis center launched an awareness campaign with assistance from the USAID-funded Kyrgyz Republic Agro Trade Activity, implemented by Chemonics International with support from ACDI/VOCA. The campaign reached 2,240 people, including 1,000 subscribers to the campaign’s Instagram account, with information on gender-based violence issues, rights and available crisis center support and opportunities around the Kyrgyz Republic. One video shared by a crisis center manager in Osh received 1,438 views on Instagram.
From Sewing Shops to Laundry Services, Crisis Centers Explore Social Businesses
Under the USAID Enterprise Competitiveness Project, implemented by ACDI/VOCA, crisis centers proposed business ideas in response to a call for applications. However, a series of visits across the country revealed that most crisis centers did not have the capacity to launch viable businesses. This led the team to shift their efforts toward coaching and advising the centers on their plans. Each center connected with owners of small- and medium-sized enterprises supported by the USAID Enterprise Competitiveness Project to learn about sustainable business models. For example, managers of one crisis center visited Cool Bro’s facility in Kyzyl Kiya to learn about its sewing operation. Nine crisis centers have been selected to move forward in cocreation with the USAID Enterprise Competitiveness Project and will receive grant funding and capacity-building support to launch their businesses.
Preparing Women Who Have Experienced Violence to Enter the Job Market
The USAID Enterprise Competitiveness Project is also working with these crisis centers to train women in the skills needed to enter the job market. These centers are eligible to receive new equipment to support this skills training or technical advice from external training service providers.
Each center is researching their potential markets, customers and competitors. They are also assessing options for expansion, sales projections and the number of new jobs they will create. These combined efforts will allow crisis centers in the Kyrgyz Republic to continue operating and serving women long after donor support ends.