Tajikistan faces a number of serious economic development challenges, including market failures, lack of access to finance, a weak labor market with limited opportunities for youth employment, and an agricultural sector that can be a cornerstone of rural growth, yet offers women, who comprise 75 percent of agricultural workers, low pay and job insecurity. The lack of economic opportunities in Tajikistan has become a critical threat to stability and security that extends far beyond its borders.
The Agribusiness Competitiveness Activity in Tajikistan (ACAT) applies a market-driven, private sector-led approach to stimulate economic growth, increase employment, and improve livelihoods by enhancing the competitiveness of Tajikistan’s agribusinesses in the dairy and horticulture value chains. Making Cents International supports the project across its three objectives: diversification of the agricultural sector to include higher-value commodities and value-added products; strengthened linkages among value chain actors and with international and domestic end-markets; and partnering and leveraging of resources to catalyze systemic change.
Making Cents is leading ACAT’s cross-cutting inclusion efforts, ensuring that women and youth participate in and benefit from project interventions. To this aim, we conducted a Gender and Youth Inclusion Analysis that identified the key socioeconomic, political, cultural, and institutional constraints to women’s and youth’s greater engagement in the horticulture and dairy value chains. Based on analysis findings, we developed a comprehensive Gender and Youth Inclusion Strategy that outlines key inclusion targeting and mainstreaming activities for ACAT, and the roles and responsibilities of ACAT’s designated Gender and Inclusion Focal Points. In July 2019, Making Cents facilitated the annual collaboration, learning and adapting (CLA) exercises to reflect on progress made on inclusion in program year one. In program year two, Making Cents is supporting youth inclusion by developing a youth agribusiness camp program in partnership with local organizations.
Making Cents is also playing a lead role in designing and delivering a capacity-building program to support micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to grow. We are working closely with local business development service providers to establish four local agribusiness incubators targeting growth-oriented women and youth entrepreneurs. The incubators will provide targeted business consulting services to the MSMEs that will help them identify business opportunities, prioritize areas for capacity building, and link to service providers.
In addition, Making Cents is advancing ACAT’s financial inclusion activities. During the project start-up, we conducted an Access to Finance assessment to understand the supply- and demand-side constraints impeding key market actors, including women and youth, from accessing finance. We also developed a Financial Inclusion action plan that outlines key demand and supply-side activities that will help MSMEs access the finance they need in order to grow their competitiveness in the agricultural sector. In program year two, we helped identify financial institution partners and are providing technical assistance to these institutions to support the development of women- and youth-inclusive financial products appropriate for the horticulture and dairy sectors.