Small Business and Income Creation Programme in Alai and Chon Alai

The "BAI ALAI" Small Business and Income Creation Programme in Alai and Chon Alai is a ten-year initiative, which started in August 2013 with its inception phase. The programme is funded by the Swiss Government and implemented by HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation in consortium with the Aga Khan Foundation Kyrgyzstan. The programme’s goal is to reduce poverty in Alai and Chon Alai through increased income and (self-) employment - in particular for women and youth - and thereby facilitate the rise of local and regional markets, leading to reduced rural / urban inequalities and improved perception of life perspectives for local youth.


In 2013, the Swiss Government launched a new private sector development programme in the south of the Kyrgyz Republic, in Osh oblast. The BAI ALAI Programme supports specifically the remote and mountainous areas of Alai and Chon Alai. The consortium of HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation and Aga Khan Foundation has been selected for implementation through a tender procedure.
BAI ALAI is designed as a ten years intervention and applies a market system development approach, known as “Making Markets Work for the Poor (M4P)”.
The Inception Phase started in August 2013. During the following nine months 9 Rapid Market Assessments were carried out to be able to select the sectors and intervention areas. Furthermore, the consortium started first pilots on-the-ground.


Livestock is the backbone of the economy of Alai and Chon Alai with opportunities to develop. Interventions in this sector allow reaching much of the population to improve their income through business development and promotion of improved methods. However, livestock improvement is complex and requires various interventions and improvements which take time to produce results. While the income improvement perspectives are interesting, the job creation potential among young people is limited in the sector due to the long winters.
The local economy is very little diversified. There are opportunities to develop local businesses through expansion and start-ups and therefore diversify sectors as well as service and product offers. Micro, small and medium enterprises provide a better potential to create new employment and can respond to local demand.
The beauty of the areas’ nature, the pleasant climate and the proximity to the highest mountains of the Pamir (including Peak Lenin which is a tourism magnet) are amongst the most important comparative advantages of the area. However, tourism in the areas can be expanded to provide sustainable benefits to the communities.


BAI ALAI – Small Business and Income Creation Programme is a ten-year initiative, in an area with a total population of about 100’000 and with a budget of approximately CHF 6, 7 million.  Primary beneficiaries and right-holders are all 24’000 households in Alai and Chon Alai, in particular women and young men.
The Programme focus on two components to realize its goals:
  1. Livestock: (i) cattle and small livestock, (ii) cashmere, and (iii) egg production subsectors; and
  2.  Local Economic Development facilitating and to initiatives of (young) women and men for establishing businesses in (i) roadside businesses, hospitality and tourism, (ii) specific women and youth-led/-oriented Micro-, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and activities, and (iii) machinery services.


The Programme methodology is to use the M4P, including the WEE approach which is a practical approach to reduce poverty, grounded in best practice and guided by:
1) Systemic action 3) Large-scale impact 2) Sustainable change 4) Facilitative roles
  • The overall goal relates to poverty alleviation through the increase of income opportunities and (self-) employment (Social change).
  • This is achieved by raising productivity, sales & margins and adding value to livestock products. Existing enter­prises will expand their sales and new MSMEs will take up their activities.  Better access to  knowledge  and information,  im­proved use of inputs and technology, access to capital for investment, better coordination  with  government  etc. is achieved  to   unleash  the potential of the private (Sector level change).
  • Market players are the main drivers of development in this approach, therefore triggering their action/reaction in improved systems. This leads to crowding-in and copying effects - the core intention of M4P-WEE approach (market triggers & uptake).
  • Bringing about systemic change in related support services in collaboration with different public and private players is the main purpose of the project and generates the expected large-scale and sustainable change (Service level change).
  • The programme works with public and private stakeholders. Interventions focus on establishing ‘business models’ that develop sustainable services (Systemic interventions).

in brief

Overall budget:
Inception Phase: CHF 395’405
Phase I: CHF 2’982’320

Programme area, main location:
Kyrgyzstan, Osh Oblast, Alai and Chon Alai Districts

Inception Phase: 2013 – 2014 (8 months)
Phase I: 2014 – 2017

Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
Project partner:

Consortium partner:
Aga Khan Foundation Kyrgyzstan

Mountain Society Development Support Programme, University of Central Asia

Beneficiaries / Right-holders:
All 24’000 households in Alai and Chon Alai districts, in particular women and young men

Contact us BAI ALAI Programme:

HELVETAS Programme Office:
7 Liniya Str. house #65, Bishkek, 720044
Tel: +996 (312) 214 572/73/74/75
Fax: +996 (312) 214 578

Field Office:
Kambarbek Adishov, Project Manager
Lenin St., Gulcho v., Alai district, Kyrgyzstan
Tel: +996 3234 5 06 06