The United Nations Development Programme and Public Foundation “Welcome.KG” have launched a Women Creative Lab in Osh, Kyrgyzstan with the participation of local authorities, women associations and business groups. The lab is an inclusive, safe, creative space designed for girls and women who want to advance in the creative industries, where they can find support, build useful networking and technical skills and access equipment necessary to boost their economic empowerment and accelerate their social and political rights within their communities and beyond.
The Lab will be supported through a crowdfunding campaign, where all the funds raised will go directly towards the training of more women. UNDP provides seed funding for the establishment of the Women Creative Lab and all the fixed costs, and the aim is that funds raised in the campaign will be invested for the further scaling up, including to additional locations in Kyrgyzstan.
The campaign will empower women in creative industries And support beneficiaries to implement their project ideas in various creative, social, environmental and other fields. Digital transformation provides crucial opportunities to make development more inclusive and fair and fight against gender stereotypes about girls and women in creative industries and IT.
"Creative industries provide unique opportunities for employment and income generation, not least for women,” noted UNDP Resident Representative Louise Chamberlain. “Through economic empowerment, girls and women gain greater social and political rights within their communities and beyond.”
The Government has highlighted the importance of creative economy in its “National Development Program of the Kyrgyz Republic until 2026”: “The area of creative industries has particular potential for employment. Development of diverse creative industries requires establishment of investment and regulatory environment, granting specific status to the residents of creative parks, creative zones and districts, and introduction of a special tax regime.” In 2021, the Ministry of Economy and Commerce developed the “Concept of Creative Economy 2021-2023” targeted to “lay the foundations for the development and promotion of the innovations for economic policy”.
“Creative industries are uniquely positioned to promote better employment and income-generating opportunities, especially for youth and women in Kyrgyzstan,” said Gulnara Abylkasymova, Project Coordinator of Women Creative Lab/ Head of Creative Hub in Osh. “Creative industries can also help traditional economic sectors to reinvent their products and services and increase the competitiveness of local companies at the regional and world markets. We hope the Women Creative Lab will become an innovative framework that will empower girls and women with state-of-the-art creative skills and enhance their access to the jobs of the future.”
In 2020, 13,000 people were employed in the creative industries in Kyrgyzstan, around 0.6 percent of the total employed population. There is a high employment rate of youth and women in creative industries: 60% are women, 40% are youth. Over the period 2014 - 2018, contribution of the creative industries to the GDP of the Kyrgyz Republic stayed at around 1% annually, whereas foreign direct investment to the sector constituted about $500K per year.
The crowdfunding campaign will facilitate more than 25 thematic events, help to ensure a safe co-working space with a supportive network and necessary resources to learn and work, and provide grants to woman entrepreneurs to start their own creative practices. Donations can be made online.
With every US$600, one more woman can be engaged in the network; an additional $2,000 will build a play zone for kids of participating member mothers; $10,000 will organize a makerspace; $30,000 will provide seed funding for ten women-led projects; and $50,000 will enable a free co-working space for 200 women over two years.
The launch of the crowdfunding campaign in support of the Women Creative Lab was initiated by the UNDP’s Acceleration initiative with the expert support of the leading business acceleration in the Kyrgyz Republic “Welcome KG”.
For information: Accelerator Labs is an initiative of the United Nations Development Programme and are co-built as a joint venture with the Qatar Fund for Development and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany. Accelerator Labs are designed to tap into local innovations to create actionable insights and reimagine sustainable development for the 21st century. It is the largest and fastest learning network consisting of 92 AccLabs in 116 countries, including a newly established lab here in the Kyrgyz Republic.