UNDP is Unlocking the Potential of the Creative Economy in Kyrgyzstan

The creative economy is rapidly gaining momentum worldwide, becoming a significant driver of GDP growth and employment. According to the UN estimates, the cultural and creative industries account for 3.1% of global GDP and 6.2% of employment worldwide.

April 18, 2024

The creative economy is rapidly gaining momentum worldwide, becoming a significant driver of GDP growth and employment. According to the UN estimates, the cultural and creative industries account for 3.1% of global GDP and 6.2% of employment worldwide. The creative economy industries generate annual revenues of over $2 trillion and account for nearly 50 million jobs worldwide. About half of these workers are women, and these industries employ more people ages 15-29 than any other sector. They offer a platform for individuals to unleash their creativity and innovation, transforming ideas into tangible economic value. 

Kyrgyzstan recognizes the immense potential of the creative economy to drive sustainable development and retain its youth population, which is reflected in the National Development Strategy for 2018-2040 and National Development Program of the Kyrgyz Republic until 2026. The Concept for the Development of the Creative Economy 2022-2026 prioritizes initiatives such as enhancing monitoring systems and support mechanisms, upgrading educational curriculum, launching creative spaces and collaborative platforms, and promoting the national brand "Creative Kyrgyzstan." Furthermore, in April 2022, President Sadyr Japarov took a significant step forward by signing a decree to develop the creative economy and establish the Creative Industries Park, a pioneering initiative globally. 

UNDP has been at the forefront of promoting the creative economy in Kyrgyzstan. Through the UNDP Accelerator Lab, innovative solutions are being explored to harness creative economy's potential for fostering sustainable and inclusive development. One of UNDP's flagship initiatives is the Create4 platform, established in collaboration with the Association of Creative Industries, which has quickly become a hub for creators and innovators across Kyrgyzstan. Through partnerships with various stakeholders, Create4 aims to expand the creative economy and promote inclusive development at the national and regional levels. The platform has already garnered significant support and engagement from government bodies, private companies, civil society organizations, and academia. Notably, UNDP successfully scaled the Create4 partnership platform to the sub-national level, integrating creative and green economy initiatives in Toktogul, celebrating cultural diversity in Osh, and facilitating knowledge exchange with creative entrepreneurs and stakeholders from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

Create4 Festival attendees taking a selfie in a crowded room.

Create4 as a platform unites more than 30 partners and engages more than 100 organizations, including private companies, state bodies, development partners, civil activists, public foundations and academia, all of whom are committed to the expansion and enhancement of Kyrgyzstan’s creative industries.

In parallel, Accelerator Lab continuously applies human-centric paradigms and approaches to empower marginalized groups through creative economy by providing grassroots partners an opportunity to advance innovative solutions in the spirit of co-design and co-creation. UNDP's commitment to women empowerment is evident through initiatives like the Women Creative Lab (WCL). By providing training, mentoring, and seed funding, WCL empowers women in rural areas to pursue entrepreneurship in the creative industries, breaking gender stereotypes and fostering inclusive growth. 

Toktogul Women Handcrafters showcasing their handmade food products at the EcoJaratman Festival.

Women Creative Lab (WCL) is a women-oriented coworking space. Currently, more than 200 Labs’ residents have access to tailored training and mentoring support programs to accelerate their business ideas in creative industries; while more than 600 are engaged in the network through joint initiatives and events.

Youth empowerment is another key focus area for UNDP, with efforts aimed at enhancing creative skills and entrepreneurship opportunities. Research conducted by UNDP has identified strategies to nurture youth talent and stimulate economic growth through education and mentorship programs. 

In addition to promoting economic development, the creative economy also catalyzes social cohesion and inclusion. UNDP's projects, such as the Disability Art initiative, harness the power of creativity to promote diversity and inclusion, empowering marginalized communities and fostering a sense of belonging.

Women artists showcasing diverse disabilities on an art panel.

Women creators of the art panel demonstrating disability diversity

The “Disability Art” project was implemented to help people with disabilities in exploring their creative potential and fostering their inclusion into creative community.

Through innovative approaches like creative placemaking and digital platforms, UNDP is driving local development and preserving cultural heritage. By leveraging technology and community engagement, UNDP aims to create sustainable solutions that empower local communities and promote inclusive economic growth.

ILGERI JOLU quest image created by artificial intelligence

ILGERI JOLU quest image created by artificial intelligence

In 2023 in collaboration with the creative association ILGERI, UNDP launched the game ILGERI JOLU in the format of a quest for the residents of Bishkek. The aim of the initiative was to raise awareness and support the protection and preservation of the city's cultural heritage using innovative approaches and harnessing state-of-the-art technologies such as NFT and Augmented Reality. 

Standing as the pioneering organization that has engaged with creative industries at the level of individuals and communities, AccLab’s learning is deeply rooted in practical experience in the spirit of “learning-by-doing.” With a steadfast focus on innovation, collaboration, and inclusivity, UNDP acknowledges the transformative power of the creative economy in shaping people, communities, and institutions, leading the path towards a more prosperous and sustainable future.