Zuura Ibraimova stands in front of her yurts in traditional dress.

The tourism industry is rapidly developing in Kyrgyzstan, notably even in the most remote corners of the country. Jailoo-tourism, a new term in Kyrgyz Republic, is becoming increasingly popular. “Jailoo” means summer pasture in Kyrgyz and is used to refer to the high-altitude summer pastures that Kyrgyz nomads take their flocks to. Travelers have adapted this coin a new phrase, jailoo-tourism, an escape to to the hard-to-reach places that are often off-the-grid. These destinations are often inhabited by indigenous people, where the benefits of modern society (electricity, Internet, mobile communications, etc.) are practically absent.

“When we started this business, we had only four yurts. To stay competitive, I decided to provide my guests with enhanced services” - Zuura Ibraimova

—Zuura Ibraimova

Zuura, who is 35 years old is one of these jailoo business owners, always ready to welcome tourists as the owner of a yurt camp. Zuura opened a comprehensive jailoo recreation center, including overnight stay options, three years ago. Now, the former teacher, who has mastered the skills of entrepreneurship, is actively developing small-scale tourism.

“When we started this business, we had only four yurts (circular tents on a platform). To stay competitive, I decided to provide my guests with enhanced services,” says the hostess.

The working day for Zuura starts at 5:00 am. She prepares breakfast for tourists and warms up the yurts. The camp has all the trappings for a comfortable stay. Zuura hosts tourists according to national traditions.

The yurt camp is located at an altitude of more than 3,000 meters above sea level. The jailoo itself is located near the high-altitude lake Tulpar-Kul, which is a favorite place for adventure tourists and climbers who come to the Alai Valley to conquer one of the highest peaks of the Pamir-Alay mountain range – Lenin Peak (7,134m).

Jailoo-Tourism, a Growing Space for Entrepreneurs in Kyrgyz Republic

With the increasing demand, Zuura was keen to expand her business. To do this, Zuura applied for the youth entrepreneurship training under the USAID’s Local Impact Project supported by the Aga Khan Foundation.

The training gave Zuura practical skills on how to manage and expand her business. At the end of the training, she successfully pitched her business idea and secured funding for two additional yurts. The additional accommodations will allow her to have more tourists and more income . Zuura is confident that Kyrgyz women can easily engage in entrepreneurial activities, and she is setting the example in her community.

“About 25 private entrepreneurs took part in the project. The training included the development of a business plan and canvas modeling. For me, the most important goal of participating in this project was the knowledge that I received. I actively apply the methods we learned about during the training in my work. And they are bringing about positive results already. My business is developing well; now there are already seven yurts in our camp. We work closely with foreign partners, too. My secret to success is simple – hard work, clear goals and constant, continual learning and self-development,” Zuura shared.

“For me, staying in the camp will be an unforgettable experience, it is comfortable, warm, and cozy here. I’d love our camp to be visited not only by foreigners, but also by residents of our country,” said tourist Mamyr.


About Local Impact

The Local Impact: A Transformative Partnership in Asia and Africa project is implemented by the agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network and is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF). The innovative framework puts local communities at the center of development for meaningful, sustained impact. To learn more about Local Impact, please visit https://www.akfusa.org/local-impact/

The content is the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily reflect the views of AKF, USAID, or the United States Government.

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The Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) aims to improve the economic well-being of women and men, particularly youth. Because small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) generate 50% of employment worldwide, AKF focuses on increasing employment and self-employment, building the conditions for SMEs to thrive by investing in training, skills workshops, and connecting people to businesses.