How to develop seasonal trade into a permanent business

August 8, 2022

My name is Perizat Tutunova and I am from the town of Balykchy in Issyk-Kul oblast. My mother has been selling smoked fish at the local markets for more than 15 years. Everyone in our family was involved in this business - we smoked fish and sold it during the summer tourist season. We used to sell 5 to 7 boxes of finished products a week. Due to the lack of the necessary equipment and inventory, it was difficult for us to increase the volume of production. First of all, there was no storage space. My mother did not have enough knowledge on how to organise a business, so I took on the task of developing a business project by taking part in a UNDP business project competition.

A step towards sustainability

After passing the selection round we got a grant of 70 thousand soms. With this money, we fitted out a trading pavilion and bought a vacuum cleaning machine. Trade went better and we took part in the next stage of the competition where we received grant support worth 850,000 soms. We bought more business equipment, and now we have storage equipment, a showcase refrigerator, shelves for other goods, and even a car.

We now have the opportunity to trade around the clock. And we began to produce smoked fish in vacuum packaging. We saved up money and built an additional smokehouse and storage room ourselves. The quality of our smoked fish has improved, customers now find us through friends and word of mouth. This year we have actively started working on making our Ak Zhol brand more prominent in the market. We use our own vehicle to deliver goods to order.

Previously, we worked mainly in summer, during the tourist season. Now we work all year round, as our refrigerators allow us to store fish harvested in summer for a long time, something we couldn't even imagine before.

By expanding our business, we have been able to create 12 jobs. My mother and I take care of the delivery and reception of goods. Today we set ourselves the task to promote vacuum packaging for smoked fish, because just such products today meet the requirements of the market, it expands the possibilities of transition from seasonal to permanent business.

Expanding economic opportunities for young people, especially those from vulnerable groups, is a priority for UNDP. The financing of Perizat Tutunova's fish business is one of a number of other socio-economic initiatives made possible by the UNDP project 'Strengthening Community Resilience and Regional Cooperation to Prevent Violent Extremism in Central Asia', with financial support from the Government of Japan and advisory support from business accelerator John Galt.