In 2014, Makbura Aidaralieva decided to move to Russia to secure a poverty-free life for her family. Like thousands of Kyrgyzstanis, Makbura was forced to migrate to another country because she had no prospect of obtaining a job in her hometown. Over the years, Makbura traveled back and forth from Russia to Kyrgyzstan trying to find better employment opportunities. For the last two years, she had been steadily living in Russia with her three children.
In June 2021, Makbura returned to Kyrgyzstan. She initially planned to leave her children with her relatives in Kyrgyzstan and go back to Russia. While she was preparing her travel documents, she was offered a job at a new apparel factory.
“Usually, there is a high demand for seamstresses in Bishkek,” Makbura said. “I was surprised to find out that a large apparel factory opened in Kyzyl-Kiya. In July 2021, I began working at the apparel factory. I immediately liked the work. I am paid well enough to support my three children.”
Connecting Local People to Local Jobs
Well-paid, stable jobs are somewhat of a rarity in Kyrgyzstan, particularly in remote regions. The Cool Bros Company focused on creating jobs for residents of the Batken Region to reduce migration in the country. Makbura Aidaralieva is one of the 500 seamstresses employed at the apparel factory in Kyzyl-Kiya.
The factory employs residents of Kyzyl-Kiya and nearby cities Nookat, Kadamjay, and Aydarken.
“I worked as a seamstress in Ekaterinburg, Russia. My payment depended on the volume of orders. Here, in Kyzyl-Kiya, I get a stable salary,” Makbura said.
Opening a Factory in Kyzyl-Kiya with USAID Support
The Cool Bros Company opened their first factory in Kyzyl-Kiya with the support of the USAID Enterprise Competitiveness Project, which is implemented by ACDI/VOCA. USAID invested $214,000 in modern sewing equipment, while the Cool Bros Company invested $260,000 in renovation and other capital expenditures. The factory can produce up to 500,000 garments per month. The quality of products meets international standards, which allows the Cool Bros Company to carry out large export orders serving clients in the Commonwealth of Independent States.
The Cool Bros opened their factory amid the COVID-19 crisis. They initially hired 77 people from nearby villages and towns and produced 120,000 cloth face masks to fill the local government order. This helped to keep the staff employed and the business running.
Building a Strong Team
To date, the Cool Bros factory is one of the biggest employers in the region.
The Cool Bros factory focuses on creating good working conditions to maintain team spirit and productivity. The company provides transportation services and hot meals twice a day. Employees are rewarded with performance bonuses and teambuilding activities.
“Here I feel like a part of the team, not like in Russia,” Makbura said. “My coworkers are nice people. We help each other. We also get short 15-minute breaks to play some table tennis. People get quite competitive! I worked in different sewing workshops in Bishkek. Compared to the conditions there, our factory is so much better. The workspace is cozy, warm, and clean. There is bright light and good ventilation. It is cool in summer and warm in winter.”
Makbura strongly values having the chance to work close to home. She spends her free time with her three children.
Providing Hundreds of New Jobs
In 2022, the Cool Bros will launch its second partnership with the USAID Enterprise Competitiveness Project to begin production of garments from woven and blended fabrics, such as workwear. New equipment, which allows working with mixed fabrics, will make it possible to supply a new line of products, such as uniforms for security services and overalls for construction workers, fuel companies, and technical services. These products will be in demand in the workwear market within the Kyrgyz Republic and neighboring countries.
The Cool Bros aims to create an additional 300 new jobs in the region.
Through projects like the USAID Enterprise Competitiveness Project, USAID aims to create 19,000 new jobs in the Kyrgyz Republic. USAID is identifying enterprises like Cool Bros and investing in the businesses so that they can increase their sales and create new jobs for employees like Makbura Aidaralieva.
Learn more about the USAID Enterprise Competitiveness Project.
Learn more about our work in Kyrgyzstan.