How an instructor of the vocational school became an entrepreneur

December 23, 2021

Manap Mamytkanov in his welding shop / Photo: UNDP.

Manap Mamytkanov is a welding instructor at vocational school #22 in Balykchy town. Apart from his main job he was working outside the school walls to earn some extra money using his old welding tools. This year Manap took part in the UNDP’s small grant project, learned the basics of entrepreneurship, and saw a prospect not only for himself but also for students. He received a grant for new welding equipment and is now hiring his students, who, after graduating stay in the town. So, students get an employment opportunity and continue to further improve their skills, working with their mentor.

“Working with a mentor is now what I need. Practice, useful advice and recommendations, trying to work with different materials, using different equipment and tools will become the basis for my professional growth. After intensive practice, I can think about independent work or more complex projects,” says Aibek, a recent graduate of the vocational school.

Balykchy is one of the small towns in the country experiencing difficulties with economic development. For most rural youth, vocational school is an opportunity to obtain a profession. However, not everyone succeeds in finding a job after graduation, and many are forced to leave for a labor migration.

“In rural areas, the role and specificity of education are different than in the city. Vocational education can become a starting point for employment both in cities and in the countryside. I wish more young people were able to find a job in Kyrgyzstan, instead of leaving for other countries in search of employment,” says the instructor.

According to him, good welders are in demand everywhere. There are always some construction works around in the private sector. Besides, there are many requests for welding metal structures like a frame for a greenhouse, stands for plants, grapes or a canopy for a summer terrace. Today, Manap and his team accept welding orders of any complexity as now all the necessary equipment and tools are available in their workshop: a grinder, two types of drills, argon-arc welding, plasma cutter, compressor and others. In total, eight pieces of equipment were transferred.

“Sometimes we receive orders even from the neighboring villages, some are an hour's drive away. We carry out various projects starting from orders for frames for balconies, ending with orders from the mayor's office. For example, now we are working on the renovation of the local cinema, which had been abandoned for many years,” he says.

“UNDP’s long term experience of supporting youth in rural and border areas significantly contributes their socio-economic empowerment, provides opportunities to improve their knowledge and professional skills. Today, in the context of COVID-19 and recovery from its negative consequences, the needs of young people in rural communities are more significant than ever. We make our best to provide maximum support and access to resources for youth in the regions so that they have an opportunity to become active partners in building peace and sustainable development,” says Mukash Kaldarov, the UNDP peace and development advisor.

Providing equipment for this welding shop became possible under the UNDP project “Implementing small grants to support the initiatives of young people at risk and community members in the development of their businesses, entrepreneurship and startups to prevent and respond to the COVID-19 crisis”. The project helped to implement 18 other youth startups in rural areas of Kyrgyzstan for more than 3 million KGS ($36 thousand).