Social Innovation in Central Asia

2019 - 2024
Area of Expertise

Social Innovation in Central Asia (SICA) is a five-year, $18 million USAID-funded initiative to cultivate a vibrant and responsive civil society throughout the region, including Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, and build a new generation of forward-looking civil society leaders.

The program has four inter-related objectives:

  • Foster a cohort of civically responsible young leaders;
  • Strengthen civil society’s role in promoting greater public transparency and accountability;
  • Enhance civil society’s ability to quickly respond to emerging opportunities; and
  • Build the capacity of civil society organizations to be financially viable and responsive to constituents.

Results as of June 31, 2021


  • 163 participants from Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan
  • 80 youth successfully graduated CAYLA’s e-learning series
  • 48 competitors in a participant-organized debate tournament
  • Eight online courses and more than 200 consultations and 85 coaching sessions
  • 24 youth leadership grants with a value of more than $68,350 awarded

In 2020, SICA launched the Central Asia Youth Leadership Academy (CAYLA) for civically responsible young leaders who share goals, values, and passion for positive change in their communities. The inaugural cohort included 163 young civic leaders from Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. CAYLA members studied foundational skills in community engagement and leadership via interactive and engaging online activities. At each step, CAYLA members have had the opportunity to network with their peers, civic leaders, established CSOs, and local government officials to share lessons about what works in community-level initiatives.


  • 39 participants from Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan
  • 15 proposals developed for collaborative policy analysis on budgeting processes
  • Six transparency advocacy grants awarded
  • Five policy research projects awarded

The SICA Policy Research School (PRS) offers mentoring, workshops, on-the-job training, and peer-to-peer exchanges for CSOs, think tanks, and independent researchers that build needed capacities for participation in policy development and the role of watchdogs in monitoring the public sector. PRS engaged its members in an advanced budget advocacy curriculum tailored to the policy areas of highest priority for them and aimed at improving ongoing advocacy initiatives and designing future campaigns on the budget process. SICA also awards grants (more than $188,000 to date) to support advocacy and research projects in Central Asia that strengthen civil society’s role in promoting transparency, public accountability, and policy research.


  • 22 innovative solution (formerly open door) grants awarded
  • Four in-kind grants awarded
  • Three dialogue platform fora on pressing issues in civil society conducted

SICA is designed to provide civil society actors with the resources they need to strengthen their work and address the priorities of their communities. To allow civil society to identify where they see the greatest need for investment, SICA provides resources through ongoing, flexible grant competitions (more than $215,700 awarded to date) to solicit and support timely project ideas and promote positive citizen participation and social innovations. Projects funded promote transparency and accountability, revitalized and inclusive communities, and opportunities and protections for all.


  • Research paper published on the feasibility of social entrepreneurship in Uzbekistan
  • 74 CSOs from Central Asia enrolled in the Institutional Development Program
  • 21 Institutional Development Experts trained on and using the SICA Institutional Assessment Toolkit

Civil society organizations perform diverse and important tasks in Central Asian countries, and SICA develops the skills, tools, and capacities of such organizations to diversify their funding sources and increase engagement with their constituents. CSOs from Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan have joined the Institutional Development Program. To support an evidence-based approach for capacity building in Central Asia, SICA developed an Institutional Assessment Toolkit that its experts use to conduct tailored assessments and provide training in targeted areas for growth. In 2021, SICA began offering Institutional Development Grants (average $15,000) to help CSOs address capacity gaps and better pursue their organizational missions.


This program description is made possible by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the sole responsibility of Eurasia Foundation and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.