The OSCE Office in Tajikistan assists the government in implementing its poverty reduction programme by supporting rural development and fostering the growth of small- and medium-sized enterprises. The Office also assists in promoting trade development between Tajikistan and neighbouring countries, particularly Afghanistan, and tackling irregular labour migration.
Small Business and Rural Development
In Tajikistan, the number of small enterprises is still significantly lower than in other countries. In this perspective, the lowering of barriers and the reduction of costs for entrepreneurial activities is indicated as one of the main tasks for Tajikistan’s Poverty Reduction Strategy for 2010-2012.
The Office has supported numerous projects that enable entrepreneurs to start and develop their own businesses. It designed and implemented a strategy to reach out to rural areas to train farmers as well as other businessmen and women on basic entrepreneurship skills. In particular, since 2009, the Office provides technical assistance for entrepreneurs of rural areas in jointly establishing service cooperatives, in order to improve market conditions for small and medium businesses. In parallel, the Office is actively engaged in the enhancement of the policy regulatory framework applicable to cooperatives.
Supporting Cross-Border Trade
The Office has been promoting trade development between Tajikistan and Afghanistan since 2004. In 2007 and 2008, the Office opened three centres along the Tajik-Afghan border for promoting cross-border trade between the two countries. These centres provide information on customs and taxation matters, and offer business training to entrepreneurs from both sides of the border. The Office also supports the Government of Tajikistan in the development of free economic zones in Sughd (Tajik-Uzbek border), Ishkashim and Pyanj (Tajik-Afghan border), both at policy level and with targeted expert support for each individual zone.
Assisting Labour Migrants
Hundreds of thousands of Tajik citizens go abroad each year to find work, mainly in Russia. Many are unaware of immigration and registration requirements in destination countries and become irregular migrants, a tendency that is being exacerbated by the global financial crisis.
From 2006 to 2010, the Office supported resource centres providing departing migrants with better knowledge on their rights and conditions for legal migration. In 2011, the Office focuses on returning migrants, and helps them to develop new economic opportunities for social reintegration upon their return. In parallel, the OSCE, jointly with IOM, helps Tajikistan in creating a migration data collection and management system consistent with those of other CIS countries. The Office also trains state officials on best practices in migration management.