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Reviving Kyrgyzstan’s intangible cultural heritage through online sales

12 January 2023
ITC News

ITC supports handicraft entrepreneurship and helps artisans in Kyrgyzstan target new markets through digital channels

Traditional handicrafts from Kyrgyzstan are part of the world’s cultural heritage. They are known to have existed as early as the first millennium BC when a variety of nomadic products, processing methods, and patterns evolved.

Carpets made from felt are one of the most important traditional arts of Kyrgyzstan, forming an integral part of the country’s cultural heritage. Today, contemporary artisans are producing felt items for local and international markets.

AMANAT is one of the artisanal craftsmanship art studios that uses felt. Based in Issyk-Kul, the studio was founded by Makhabat Zhakeeva in 2019.
 

Passing on an invaluable tradition while committing to a better world


The passionate entrepreneur and artist was taught by her beloved grandmother "Amanat" in her early childhood how to work with felt – a tradition that UNESCO included in the list of intangible cultural heritage in danger of disappearing.

Her grandmother’s knowledge had been carefully preserved and handed down from generation to generation on the women’s side. Artisans in Makhabat’s family could make Chiy, Kiyiz, Shyrdak, Alakiyiz, and other various felt products.

"Amanat" literally translates to “commitment”. Makhabat decided to name her company after her grandmother as she operates under the commitment to “preserve and pass on,” transmitting her family’s heritage to others through training, manufacturing, and promoting the AMANAT brand.

And that is not all the commitment Makhabat is set to fulfil. The artist provides additional income for her local community by hiring the most vulnerable part of the society: women. “Our mission is not only to produce felt goods but also to train other women so that they can work for better comfort in their lives,” says Makhabat.

Another commitment is to protect the environment: all products are handmade using locally grown organic materials, while the production amounts to zero waste.

 

Reaching international markets


Since joining the International Trade Centre’s ecomConnect programme under its EU-funded Ready4Trade project in 2021, AMANAT has increased its digital presence. Through the project’s support, the company developed e-commerce and social media strategies, optimized its Instagram account, and created a website amanatfelt.com.

Along with another 200 enterprises from Central Asia, the AMANAT team learned the right tools and reached new digital platforms, which helped the company to increase its revenue and sales next to ensuring sustainable business development.

“I am thankful for the training. We can now raise awareness of our great cultural heritage,” says Makhabat. 
 

About the project

The Ready4Trade Central Asia project is a joint initiative of the European Union and the International Trade Centre. It aims to contribute to the overall sustainable and inclusive economic development of Central Asia by boosting intra-regional and international trade in the region. Beneficiaries of the Ready4Trade Central Asia project include governments, small and medium-sized enterprises, in particular women-led enterprises, and business support organizations.

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19 December 2022