Munavvar Shamirov was a teacher in Tajikistan when he realized he needed to return to his parents’ village to help them as they were getting older. That decision led him to a crossroads and ultimately to a new vocation in beekeeping.

Now a graduate of the University of Central Asia (UCA)’s School of Professional and Continuing Education (SPCE), Munavvar recently shared his story about launching a new career.

What motivated you to start a career in beekeeping?

Before, I was a math teacher in a town in the next district, but when I came back to help my parents, I could not find employment opportunities in my village. So I had the idea of starting a beekeeping business. Beekeeping had good potential in my village.

While pursuing my job search in the city of Khorog, I came across an advertisement for the School for Professional and Continuing Education’s program for business planning, part of the University of Central Asia (UCA). I decided this business planning might be the break I needed.

I completed my application and admission exam. Soon afterward I started the business course with classmates studying all aspects of generating enterprise ideas, financial literacy, marketing, and more.

What was the most satisfying or most enjoyable moment of the program?

In addition to the content of the course, one of the most important moments of the program was that while I was in Khorog, I met professionals who knew beekeeping. I received important advice from them on how to run a beekeeping business. In my district, it would not be possible to meet that kind of professional and to receive those skills.

What changes have you seen in your life since participating in the program?

Munavvar maintains bees in Tajikistan

The course inspired me to seek funding for my beekeeping enterprise. Bank loans had interest rates that were beyond my reach, so I applied for grants with support from UCA. Most important, I gained confidence through knowledge that I will be able to face the obstacles and challenges of running a small business.

The International Organization for Migration provided a grant to support the start-up of my beekeeping operation with equipment and a three-day training. Now I produce up to 175 pounds of honey every year, bringing in around TJS 5,000 ($530 USD). The business even created a job opportunity for my father.

My life has changed significantly. Our family income increased. My father, a retiree, was bored before I started the business, but now he is very happy to spend his time handling bees.

Munavvar Shamirov is a graduate of the business planning course at the University of Central Asia’s School for Professional and Continuing Education.

This post is part of the #humansoftheworld series on our blog—a collection of tales we can both relate to and marvel at. Here, we share stories of appreciation, self-reliance, and strength from across the Aga Khan Development Network.