An important step has been taken toward the emergence of a hub for digital nomads, or independent remote workers, in Issyk-Kul, a picturesque lake and mountain resort area of Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia. That step involves an agreement signed in Bishkek for five-year, long-term financing of the ololoAkJol resort. The investment comes from AV Frontiers, the Bishkek-based investment firm that manages the Central Asia Impact Fund (CAIF) in partnership with parent company AV Ventures, based in the United States. AV Ventures is the wholly owned impact investing subsidiary of ACDI/VOCA. The USAID-funded Enterprise Competitiveness Project (ECP), implemented by ACDI/VOCA and Cross Boundary, provided critical transaction advisory support to bring the deal to a successful close.
This is the first investment deal for CAIF and AV Frontiers in Kyrgyzstan and the second in Central Asia. In late 2020, the investment fund supported a microcredit company in Tajikistan. Through this promising endeavor to develop tourism and an economy based on intellectual activity and entrepreneurship, CAIF is excited to contribute to financing the “missing middle” of Central Asia, made up of small businesses that are often overlooked for investment. CAIF uses innovative, risk-sharing financial products to support these small and growing businesses with great impact potential.
“Many types of businesses allow you to work remotely. The ololoAkJol project should help entrepreneurs with this, giving them the opportunity to realize their intellectual, entrepreneurial, and creative potential. We liked the concept of creating a creative economy very much. The guys who run the project are very passionate about this idea, this concept. This is a huge force that will make it possible to make a great contribution to the economic and social development of the country.”— Taalaibek Djoumataev, General Director of AV Frontiers
The investment capital will be directed to the second stage of ololoAkJol’s transformation in the village of Kosh-Kol. This stage involves updating the room stock and preparing for the transition to a year-round work format. As the largest and greenest Issyk-Kul resort, ololoAkJol and its more than 22-hectare expanse will become a home for digital nomads — a place with co-working spaces where freelancers and entrepreneurs from Kyrgyzstan, other Asian countries, and around the world can live and work comfortably. The management team is led by the Ololo Group of companies, which spearheaded the co-working space movement in Bishkek and is a recognized leader in the tourism and entrepreneurship space.
“ololoAkJol is a completely new type of resort in Issyk-Kul, which will combine all the necessary conditions for comfortable year-round living and fruitful work. Our company is very careful in choosing projects for investment. In addition to conducting financial analysis of ololoAkJol, we also undertook a study of the tourism sector in Central Asia, interviewing representatives of the creative economy of Central Asia. We found that the ololoAkJol resort indeed met many of the preferences and priorities of the creative class and digital nomads.”— Adilet Aitiev, Investment Manager of AV Frontiers
According to Pieter Levels, the founder of NomadList, a city-ranking service for digital nomads, there will be more than a billion digital nomads in the world in 15 years. Governments around the world are creating special zones and digital nomad visas to attract such people to their countries. Already, 500 people can live and work in ololoAkJol. Thanks to the CAIF investment, ololoAkjol hopes to increase this number to 1,200 in three to four years.
“With AV Frontiers and CAIF, we have always felt their support; they believed in our ideas. Even now, as business partners, AV Frontiers is already helping us to look further. I think this is how healthy business partnerships should be. Issyk-Kul is a wonderful place with scenic views and good opportunities to relax, but it is still little known internationally, and the infrastructure is incomplete. We want to create a place where people will come, live, perhaps even with husbands, wives, and children. This means that we need kindergartens, schools, many different coffee shops, restaurants, clinics — that is, the entire infrastructure. In that way, we will be able to say that this is a true city ready to attract digital nomads!”— Daniar Amanaliev, Co-Founder and Business Director of the Ololo Group
AV Frontiers intends to continue investing in companies operating in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Three more investment projects have already been selected in Kyrgyzstan in the fields of processing, agriculture, and education. AV Frontiers considers all sectors of the economy that have financial and commercial stability and social impact; this includes sectors that create new jobs, ensure the involvement of young people in business, and support women’s entrepreneurship. The important factors for AV Frontiers are the stability of the business model, the ability to scale and grow, and the professional and human qualities of the entrepreneur and the team that implements the project and their business.
AV Frontiers is ready to finance high-impact companies in agriculture, food and light industries, information and communication technology, tourism, and the financial sector. Companies can receive investments between $100,000 to $1 million.
Learn more about AV Ventures.