Thursday, July 15, 2010

A fund to rebuild Southern Kyrgyzstan

In a quiet Osh neighborhood there stands a torched shop with no roof. The hot afternoon sun shines over what little remains of Nadira Abdusatarova’s once-thriving seamstress business.

Before the violent and destructive events of June 11th reduced her business to charred ruins, Nadira employed five apprentices and one staff member. With a solemn look of disbelief, she stood motionless, seemingly lost in a flood of opposing images.

She has memories of beautifully-mended clothes stacked neatly next to spools of thread, apprentices sharing light-hearted conversation and the faint hum of sewing machines in motion. But now, her memories are a painful contrast to the lifeless layer of rubble scattered across the floor.

Having already received a loan from Kompanion to expand her business before it was destroyed, Nadira now struggles to imagine how she will afford to rebuild her primary source of income. She also worries about her devoted apprentices and what they will do without employment.

But a new equity fund created by Mercy Corps has been established to do just that — get Nadira, and many other microentrepreneurs, back to business. The Fund for Rebuilding Communities through Microenterprise (FRCM) will provide small amounts of start-up capital, necessary to rebuild the countless micro businesses destroyed by the clashes in Osh and Jalal-Abad.

Mercy Corps is in a unique position to help small business owners rebuild because its microfinance company Kompanion has a large network of offices and staff already in place. With this new fund, microentrepreneurs like Nadira are one step closer to rebuilding their businesses and regaining their livelihoods.

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