Introducing the 2011 Bill Maynes Fellows

On Tuesday, October 25, Eurasia Foundation and the Center for Private Enterprise (CIPE) hosted a panel discussion on Business in Eurasia: Effecting Change in Difficult Environments with Eurasia Foundation’s 2011 Bill Maynes Fellows: Dr. Valeria Klitsounova and Matluba Uljabaeva.

The Fellows were joined by Steve LeVine, a Schwartz Fellow at the New American Foundation, and Elena Suhir, Senior Program Officer at CIPE. Jean Rogers, CIPE Deputy Director, moderated.

Dr. Valeria Klitsounova and Matluba Uljabaeva, the 2011 Eurasia Foundation Bill Maynes Fellows, have successfully started businesses and organizations in Belarus and Tajikistan, respectively, and lobbied legislative bodies to simplify restrictive laws governing business development. Both commented on the role that small businesses play in their respective countries. Steve LeVine, an accomplished journalist who covered business issues in the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Russia, offered general observations on the interconnected relationship between business and politics in the states of the former Soviet Union. Elena Suhir described three CIPE approaches that may help level the playing field for businesses and improve the business climate.

A recent story in The Atlantic highlights the dynamic role that Dr. Klitsounova and Ms. Uljabaeva played in improving the business climate in Belarus and Tajikistan. Author Joshua Foust suggests that their experience as leading businesswomen offers potential lessons for revitalizing the private sector in conflict-torn Kyrgyzstan.

About the 2011 Fellows

Dr. Valeria Klitsounova is Chairwoman of Country Escape: the Association for Rural and Ecotourism in Belarus. She is a specialist in rural economic development and has nearly 15 years of experience supporting the growth of small businesses in the regions of Belarus. Her advocacy efforts were instrumental in passing national legislation simplifying the operating environment for small businesses in Belarus. Dr. Klitsounova is also director of the Center for Agro and Ecotourism Development, an agricultural and ecotourism business incubator, and a senior lecturer at Belarus State University.

Matluba Uljabaeva is the Chairwoman of the National Association of Small and Medium Business of Tajikistan (NASMB). With more than 25 years of experience in business management, she is a national leader for the promotion of small business development in Tajikistan. Ms. Uljabaeva works closely with the Government of Tajikistan, international development agencies and regional business associations in promoting the interests of small- and medium-sized enterprises in Tajikistan. With Eurasia Foundation of Central Asia, Ms. Uljabaeva helped establish the American Chamber of Commerce in Tajikistan. Under her leadership as executive director, Indigo Tajikistan became the country’s second largest mobile telephone operator.

To learn more about the Bill Maynes Fellowship Program, click here.