Social Innovation and Volunteerism in Uzbekistan

Project Goal

Volunteers develop new ways to promote social change in their communities
UNDP in Uzbekistan: Based on a long national tradition, volunteerism is an ideal means to encourage social change within communities


Conducted jointly by UNDP, UNV and national partners, the ‘Social Innovation and Volunteerism’ project aims to empower and support Uzbekistan’s youth participating in community development processes. By providing a combination of guidance, training and small grants to groups of proactive individuals, we promote volunteerism and pioneer social innovation for inclusive development.


The vital role volunteers play in empowered and resilient communities, as well as in working towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, has been recognised by several UN resolutions and referred to personally by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. However despite Uzbekistan's rich tradition of ‘Hashar’ (mutual help community groups), the concepts of community-based volunteerism and voluntary community service are not yet widely known in the country. The project seeks to change this by enabling and supporting a culture of volunteerism throughout Uzbekistan.


Additionally, the project will introduce the concept of social innovation as a tool to support volunteer initiatives and to promote the idea of social entrepreneurialism. Social innovation is increasingly seen as the key creative ingredient in locally-driven development, and has already been successfully applied in a number of CIS countries. This project will pioneer similar approaches for the first time in Uzbekistan.


Expected Results


  • Demonstrate the benefits of social innovation by piloting a number of initiatives, disseminate related good practice and international experience, and eventually encourage the approach’s wide application by both the state and the private sector;
  • Create Social Innovations Labs which will serve as a hub for social innovation projects and initiatives for the state and private sector, as well as academia;
  • Organise a Café Scientifique that will enhance the role and reputation of science, and bring it closer to the general public, through the organisation of informal meetings of scientists with interested members of the populace where casual discussions and presentations of complicated topics can be held;
  • Encourage the use of social networking instruments as innovative means of increasing the touristic attractiveness of various under-promoted regions of Uzbekistan;
  • Conduct social innovation camps that will bring together young creative minds and put their heads together to develop innovative ways of addressing various social issues in the regions;
  • Promote and organise debates in all regions of Uzbekistan, to help young activists to effectively express their views and convey their messages;
  • Conduct trainings on personal and professional development in all regions of Uzbekistan, covering project management, time management, social entrepreneurship and presentation skills;
  • Launch an Internships Agency to address existing obstacles faced by graduate students in their initial recruitment stage, due to an absence of work experience;
  • Launch the mini-grants programme for social innovation projects among young people, and provide necessary financial support;
  • Engage young activists in the value-chain production of eco-friendly goods, and promote environmental awareness among the general population;
  • Develop a Volunteers’ Code of Conduct, and launch a Volunteers Portal.


Considerations about the sustainability of each of the project’s key objectives will be emphasised at each implementation stage. The project utilises several key strategies for ensuring that its positive impacts can continue beyond the immediate input from UNDP after 2014:


  • Firstly, initiatives such as the Social Innovation Lab or Debates Training have been developed and implemented in close collaboration with well-established partners who can guarantee the continuity of project activities;
  • Secondly, the project will work to build the capacities of national partners. This will ensure that partner organisations such as the ‘Kelajak Ovozi’ Centre for Youth Initiatives are in a strong position to advocate for and promote volunteerism in the future;
  • Thirdly, the project will work to establish a set of standard procedures to be widely used in the future. Developed through dialogue with national partners, both a code of conduct for volunteers and a toolkit addressing the responsibilities of volunteer-employing organisations will help to build a lasting framework for volunteerism in Uzbekistan;
  • Finally, the project will work to provide training and awareness-raising to a large number of individuals throughout Uzbekistan, with the intention that these individuals will act as multipliers within their own social networks. This will ensure progress towards an enabling cultural environment for volunteer action and social innovation in Uzbekistan.
Project Start Date:
July 2012
Estimated End Date:
December 2014
Geographic Coverage:
Focus Area:
9. Beyond 8 MDGs
The ‘Kelajak Ovozi’ Center of Youth Initiatives, and the ‘Alisher Navoi’ National Library of Uzbekistan
USD 572,000
Bokhodir Ayupov, Project Manager

+998 90 9613642