Hard work and professionalism have helped an entrepreneur build a small business in Leilek

August 1, 2022

My name is Ihtiyor Dadabaev and I am 38 years old. After graduating from school, I worked in a construction team for 16 years, starting as a simple apprentice. Those were the most interesting times when you see raw walls and ceilings magically transformed into beautifully decorated rooms. I tried to learn from the masters, to understand the art of decoration, but it was the roof construction and its decoration that interested me the most. I believe that the foundation and the roof of a house are the most important components of any construction, on which the longevity and beauty of the building depends.  At the age of 20, I became a professional craftsman and paid special attention to the facades and roofs of houses. I believe that the most important thing is to know well the area in which you are planning to build a business. Lack of experience starts problems and can be the beginning of the end.

Love for what you do

While working as a craftsman, I noticed that materials for facades and roofs were hard to find, they had to be ordered from Osh, you had to wait until they were made, and they were often expensive. I started to think why not manufacture these products here in Leilek. In 2017, I decided to open my own workshop and started a business making roofing and façade elements. I rented premises with a monthly payment of 6,000 soms and opened my workshop. To start such a business, you need to know the specifics of this activity. You have to understand that decorating a house and constructing a roof is a huge responsibility and that you have to do your work in good conscience.

The financial issue was the most difficult one. Finding clients was also an open question. It is always scary to start something new, especially when you start your own business. I used my personal savings as start-up capital. Initially, I used manual machinery and equipment. For example, a manual sheet bender used for bending metal sheets. Gradually, the business developed, and I managed to buy a sheet metal bending machine, because no construction project is complete without the bending option. It became easier for me to work and my orders increased. Then I bought another sheet bending machine and several smaller machines for making roof coverings. During my 4 years on my own, I started making good money producing roof coverings with numerous elements, but I could not achieve the expansion of production which was not possible without the purchase of 2 more professional machines.

Expanding the business

While looking for additional funds to buy the required equipment, I found out that there was a UNDP programme to support entrepreneurs from the effects of the pandemic. I applied and was happy to become part of the community of entrepreneurs who have the opportunity to improve their business skills and receive a grant. In the first round, my application was approved for 70,000 soms and I was able to buy a machine to produce types of profiled sheet boarding (round bar). To receive support in the second round, I presented and defended my project on purchase of a machine for production of gutters. There were many applicants, I did not even expect that my application would be supported. When I received the call and was informed of the positive result, I was delighted and immediately started making lots of plans and ideas for using the machines and expanding the business. These machines are very important to the business and to date have increased 1.5 times the number of orders.

Currently, my business offers the manufacture and installation of corrugated boarding for facade cladding, roofing, finishing tunikafonom, seamless gutters, as well as elements for roofing with profiled roofing steel: snow stops, drip edges, flashing strips, end caps and so on. Since most of the houses in Leilek are private, the residents can now also enjoy the benefits of high-quality roof and facade design.

Unfortunately, one cannot ignore the seasonal factor. Season for active work is 9 months, in winter time there are almost no orders, craftsmen are engaged in preparation. Currency fluctuations also affect the solvency of the clients as our materials go up in price. Hence the occasional drop in demand for our services, but it is not critical.

There are 5 people working in the workshop, including me. 2 craftsmen work directly on the machines, and 2 install the roofing and façade coverings. I have placed the guttering machine directly inside my minibus, specially equipped for this machine. This is done for the convenience of customers, they do not have to come to order building material and wait for delivery. The minibus is equipped with the machine and I produce the gutters on the spot. I also try to supervise the work of my workers, because the responsibility for their work falls on my shoulders.

To increase the number of orders I promote my business on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/tunikafon_isfana/. In this business, it also works well, as they call it, "word of mouth". When you do your job well, people will always recommend you to their friends and acquaintances. About half of our clients come to us by recommendation.

Next, I plan to scale up the business. To do this, I took out a loan and, having invested my own money, bought 7 hectares of land to build a new workshop. In my opinion, it will be the only sort of large centre, with several specialised workshops of various kinds and showrooms.  I plan to create around 15 jobs.  

I genuinely enjoy what I do. When you do what you like, which also brings positive emotions to other people, you feel proud of your work.

Ihtiyor Dadabaev's small business was supported in 2020 as part of the UNDP project on Empowerment of Vulnerable People (e.g. young women and men from hard-to-reach settlements) for Decent Life and Response to COVID-19 from 2018 to 2022.