Aigul Dogdurova, Founder of aha.kg company
Aigul Dogdurova, founder of the aha.kg company, undertook a long career journey before launching her startup. She graduated from two universities and worked for 15 years for international organizations supervising social, youth and media projects in Central Asia.
In 2017, at the peak of her career, Aigul challenged herself by changing her career path. She made a transition to entrepreneurship, namely to non-traditional education in online and offline format.
Her business idea was to improve society through personal development and mindset transformation. Currently, her aha.kg startup offers courses to adults and children in such areas as: interpersonal and intrafamily communication, goal setting and achievement, conflict prevention and resolving, emotional intelligence, stress management, public speaking, media literacy, creative thinking, financial literacy and many other topics.
The uniqueness of the startup is that courses are offered in the Kyrgyz language and target residents of remote areas of Kyrgyzstan, inclduing migrants, women and youth. The aha.kg was one of the first in the local market to introduce such service in an online format.
Among the company’s first projects were “E-Learning Accelerator”, “Z-Academy for Kyrgyz-Speaking Teenagers on Soft-Skills” and “Kesip Kerbeni” project, which offered self-assessment for career guidance in boarding schools across Kyrgyzstan. Successful implementation of these projects granted several offers from large organizations, including Soros Kyrgyzstan Foundation, Peace Corps in the Kyrgyz Republic, Representative Office of the Internews Europe, German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ).
Aha.kg’s online products and services
The company also developed useful content for private customers via its Youtube and other online platforms. Interest from the audience was growing every day.
The problem with Aigul’s project was that the sales rate was extremely low. People were happy to consume free content but did not want to pay for the readymade product. This fact forced Aigul to seek a professional support.
“I had a tremendous experience in many fields, but absolutely no experience in running a business and that’s when I started knocking the doors of all organizations that supported small businesses. Unfortunately, my startup did not fit their set of criteria, the requirements were quite high. I kept searching and saw a PEAK’s ad in social media. My startup met the eligibility criteria of their acceleration programme, and I was thrilled!”, says Aigul Dogdurova, founder of aha.kg.
Having joined the Grow Your Business acceleration programme of the PEAK Bishkek Business Innovation Center, Aigul successfully mastered key skills to run a full-scale commercial project. She additionally applied for the PEAK’s free business diagnostic and subsidy programme that granted comprehensive business consultations from a leading sales and marketing expert.
“There are many companies that provide trainings in Russian but only few companies provide high-quality content in the Kyrgyz language. It was important for PEAK to support services that are crucially needed for communities in remote areas”, says Anar Orozobaeva, PEAK Kyrgyzstan’s Business Advisory Manager.
As a result, Aigul identified the major bottlenecks and improved her B2C sales strategy. Her direct sales increased up to 90%, and the client base extended to customers from Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Malaysia and Turkey.
In the coming five years, the company plans to provide training courses to 100,000 people and change the mindset of one million citizens of Kyrgyzstan.
PEAK Bishkek Business Innovation Centre was established under the PEAK Enterprise and Innovation Programme funded by UK aid from the UK Government. It offers startups, micro, small and medium enterprises representing diverse economic sectors nationwide the unique opportunities for transforming their ideas and products into viable businesses or scaling their existing businesses nationally and to regional and international markets. By April 2023, PEAK programme plans to accelerate more than 400 startups and MSMEs in Kyrgyzstan, thereby contributing to the retention and creation of local jobs.