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95th session of the International Labour Conference, 2006
Start your business, tailor your life

According to the ILO Director-General Juan Somavia's report to the Conference, global unemployment increased by 21.9 per cent between 1995 and 2005. Among the main factors contributing to this rise, the report cites, is the deterioration of the employment situation in Eastern European and Central Asian transition countries.

Article | 14 June 2006

According to the ILO Director-General Juan Somavia's report to the Conference, global unemployment increased by 21.9 per cent between 1995 and 2005. Among the main factors contributing to this rise, the report cites, is the deterioration of the employment situation in Eastern European and Central Asian transition countries. Olga Bogdanova reports from Tajikistan where the ILO's Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB) programme helps workers and their families to sustain themselves by developing businesses and creating new jobs.

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan (ILO Online) - Firdavs Mastoulov is a young man in his late 20s. Three years ago his situation was really desperate; as a trained economist, he had no regular job and his family could not make a living out of the US$30 a month he earned.

During his job search, he went to the Information and Business Development Centre of the State Employment Service, and there they suggested he attend a Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB) course.

SIYB is an ILO training programme aimed at developing and strengthening the entrepreneurial skills of those who are already in business or intend to become entrepreneurs. SIYB has already been introduced in over 80 countries worldwide. In 1997, the ILO launched an SIYB Programme for the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). In Tajikistan, the programme started in 2000.

The SIYB package includes four training courses: Generate Your Business Idea (GYB) helps potential entrepreneurs develop interesting and applicable business ideas; Start Your Business (SYB) is a step-by-step guide on the effective organization of business; Improve Your Business (IYB) helps entrepreneurs create a basic enterprise management system; and Expand Your Business (EYB) provides advice on how to further develop and expand an enterprise.

Firdavs completed the Start Your Business course, developed a business plan, submitted it to the State Centre for Support of Small and Medium-Size Enterprises, won a contest and received a two-year credit. His business was so successful that he was able to return the credit after nine months.

Firdavs started a private insurance company creating jobs for 10 people. The company called 'Trud' ('Labour') is comparatively small but already works with major Russian insurance companies like 'Ingosstrakh' and international partners. Among its clients are big enterprises, organizations and international projects.

"I am a trained economist specialized in the banking sector", Firdavs says. "I dreamt to create my own insurance company for some time, and the dream became true thanks to the SIYB programme."

The job creation dividend

SIYB is unique because its training methods are simple and clear. Regardless of his or her educational level, it helps the entrepreneur to develop the necessary skills to start and successfully manage a small business.

Vassily Yakounin, a tailor living in Kyrgyzstan's capital Bishkek, can confirm this. His vocational training leading to the certificate "Cutter - private sewing workshop owner" also included SIYB training.

He sold his tiny apartment, rented a space at the central market and started his own sewing workshop. Finally, Vassily married his fellow SIYB student Svetlana Kougayevskikh. They started to work together, gradually extended their business and recruited home-working seamstresses.

The couple now owns two workshops in Bishkek and hold permanent stands at the local market. They have regular customers - wholesalers from the Russian cities of Samara, Irkutsk, Novosibirsk and Novokuznetsk. Last year they bought an apartment in Novosibirsk and opened a workshop there.

Vassily and Svetlana say that what they learnt from SIYB was invaluable for their business activities, including marketing and staff management. Svetlana does all the book-keeping herself and manages the cash flow. What's more, the couple created around 40 new jobs.

Today, Vassily and Svetlana are part-time students at the Polytechnic Institute. They are confident that their business is sustainable and has a good perspective.

"You might say that creating between 10 and 40 new jobs is not much. But just imagine if each new micro-entrepreneur created 10 jobs, what effect this would have at the national level? According to the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, each year about 250,000 workers leave Tajikistan in search of work", comments Michael Henriques, director of the ILO's Job Creation and Small Enterprise Development department.

"It was a very good initiative to introduce the SIYB programme in this region", says Martina Lubyova, senior employment specialist in the ILO Moscow office. "The programme was very well received and supported by our tripartite partners, which to a large extent guaranteed its success. SIYB started in Kazakhstan and expanded later to Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and three regions in southern Russia. It has proved to be an efficient tool which, in combination with other employment creation programmes and policies, helps to address the unemployment problem which is very acute in our region, especially in Central Asia."

Of all the children in the world today 200 million are child labourers, of those more than 100 million are trapped in the worst forms of child labour.

While there are signs of hope - a recent report by the International Labour Organization showed that there are now 28 million fewer child labourers than four years ago - there are millions that still need help to live as children again.

The ILO is committed to helping countries lift all children out of child labour in its worst forms by 2016.

Please take the time to click on this link to see why millions of children need your help and ours. /public/english/bureau/inf/wdacl/index.htm


Note 1 - Changing patterns in the world of work, Report of the Director-General, International Labour Conference, 95th Session, 2006. Report I (C). International Labour Office, Geneva, 2006. ISBN 92-2-116623-6.