“Daairy” spreads its wings
The craft association brings artisanal handicrafts from rural Kyrgystan to global showcases, lifting the fortunes of the women who create them
There is a lovely phrase in the Kyrgyz language “dairy kush”, which refers to a fledgling that has matured enough to fly on its own. In 2007, when a new craft association brought together 30 cooperatives of craftswomen from rural Kyrgystan, it was named “Daairy”.
Fittingly, the word reflects the association’s journey over the last nine years with the GTEX programme implemented by the International Trade Centre.
“Looking back, I can appreciate how complex and interesting our journey of growth and transformation was,” said Jipara Raimkulova, Daairy’s executive director.
“At the beginning of creating the association, we held a very narrow view of handicraft merely as an artform intended to preserve traditions. Since then, we have adapted a business approach and can now see broader opportunities,” she said.
As a result, hand-embroidered clothing and accessories, delicate ceramics, and exquisite jewelry now find buyers across Europe and Asia, lifting the fortunes of the rural Kyrgyz craftswomen who created them.
“We have realized how important it is to follow the market laws and develop solid entrepreneurial skills. Through participation in GTEX programme, we have significantly increased our expertise and grown to the level of a service provider,” she said. “We have built a strong foundation for development and today we are able to provide consultations and mentorship for artisans, thus expanding the knowledge and skills gained over the years while participating in the programme.”
New skills for export markets
Today Daairy has grown to include 40 cooperatives and craft groups. Raimkulova said the programme’s trainings and consultations gave the participants crucial new skills and made their products more competitive in export markets.
GTEX provides the opportunity to participate in major international exhibitions, including training on marketing and pricing so they reach their potential at these events.
Daairy has presented Kyrgyz artisanal products at the international Ambiente exhibition in Frankfurt for the last six years. Through GTEX, the association has grown its exports by 2.5 times. Their product offering has grown from 50 to 250 items, as production has doubled and sales tripled.
“Participating in diverse exhibitions supported by the GTEX programme helped domestic artisans to create competitive products for export markets,” Raimkulova said.
“Several years ago, we created a website that served as an informational business card for our association. Its practical use was minimal, and some were even convinced that it was not needed at all,” she said. “However, being beneficiaries of the GTEX programme opened our eyes to the importance of implementing digital tools in our promotion axes for the products of Kyrgyz artisans in order to export wider.”
“This process has been accelerated by the pandemic, which has drastically changed the way businesses are run, sparking a boom in online sales,” she said. “We are therefore currently putting a lot of effort into our digital platform, creating content, and simplifying the payment system so that the coordinating marketing center of the Daairy association has a fully functioning online store.”
The association has many plans to fulfill its mission of giving Kyrgyz craftswomen access to export markets with their unique handmade products based on centuries-old traditions. Their success depends on building the strength of the association by continuous training in production, evaluation, and exports that meet modern business requirements.
As Raimkulova said: “A bird counts not on the strength of the branch it’s sitting on, but on the strength of its wings!”
About the GTEX Programme
The Global Textiles and Clothing Programme (GTEX) supports small businesses and business support organizations working in the textile and clothing industry in developing countries to increase their export competitiveness.
The GTEX programme is funded by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) of the Swiss Confederation and focuses on five priority countries (Egypt, Morocco, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Tunisia).