Business development in Dagestan creates brighter future for rural families

Hard work over the last year and a half will ensure a higher quality of life and more stable future for thirty-eight families in Khasavyurt district, Dagestan, who have successfully participated in a World Vision business development project 'Vpered' ('Ahead') funded by USAID.

Some 73% of the population lives below the poverty line in this largely rural region where agriculture constitutes one fourth of its GDP, like many rural regions in Russia. Unemployment is at 30%, but higher in predominantly rural areas where Soviet collective farms practically ceased to exist with private farming failing to develop because of lack of access to funding and loans.

That's why small grants distributed through programmes like 'Vpered' that help people start their own business are so important in this region. Several small businesses were started with the grants distributed through the 'Vpered' project, many of which focused on agriculture or supported people living in villages whose only source of income are their small plots of land.

Uma Adzhaeva is a single mother bringing up a small daughter and trying to support her two sisters, who are also raising their children alone, and is one of the thirty-eight start up entrepreneurs involved in the Vpered Project.

'I could not believe at first that my business plan could ever be funded,' says Uma. 'There is so much corruption everywhere; people sometimes even have to pay to get a job in a hospital or a school. So the idea of an international organisation supporting you for free to start your own business seemed like a fairy tale - a dream come true.'

Uma received a grant that helped her buy equipment for the shop. Her brother helped her put up the shelves, and she used some of her own funds to buy the first stock of goods. Now Uma has a shop, which means steady income for her and her family. She does need to worry about buying a school uniform, books and the school kit for her daughter and her niece who will soon be going to school.

The only other member of Uma's family who has a job is her brother who works as a carpenter. All of them, including four small children and their parents, live in one house in a village of Temiraul in Khasavyurt region.

As the Vpered project draws to a close, Russia is at the centre of media attention with its presidential and parliamentary elections, oil and gas politics, and its rising military and economic power. Its economy is on the rise, and over the last few years several social sectors - education, health care, housing and agriculture have been named key priorities for the government with programmes of development for each of these areas supervised by Dmitry Medvedev, who has now been elected the President of Russia.

World Vision Russian Federation is working with rural families in Khasavyurt district of Dagestan to create sustainable livelihoods by training entrepreneurs on how to start or expand their businesses according to the methodology developed by the International Labour Organisation, teaching them basic accounting skills, how to generate business ideas and develop a realistic business plan. Successful graduates receive small grants that allow them to start on their own – purchase cattle or equipment for a workshop or a shop, or build a greenhouse. This project is implemented in cooperation with the International Rescue Committee, which is carrying out similar activities in one of the regions of Chechnya.

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