The Agalarov family fled to the Shaki-Zaqatala region after the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh flared up. Their financial situation back then was fairly poor and the only skill they possessed was carpet weaving.
“When we first arrived here, we had nothing except our carpets and our books,’ says Zamina Agalarova. “We struggled to make a living. Even when you have proper skills, it’s difficult to find a job, let alone start your own business.”
But the family was determined to change their situation—and wanted to do so by making carpets. Carpets are highly valued in Azerbaijan, where every region boasts its own traditions and techniques for weaving, wool-dyeing and designs. The Agalarov family’s carpet designs are among the most original and rare.
The talent and determination of the Agalarovs did not go unnoticed. Along with 11 other families, they were selected to participate in the “Support to the Development of Small Family Businesses in the Shaki-Zaqatala Economic Zone” project. Co-funded and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with ABAD and EU4Business, the project offered the Agalarovs an opportunity to participate in specialized training for entrepreneurs.
“The training course involved 13 sessions during which we learned a lot about how to develop a business plan, how to develop a brand, how to sell over the internet and how to package a product,” explains Zamina, “It gave us the confidence to start our own family business. Of course, we’re still learning every day.”
This training also helped aspiring entrepreneurs become acquainted with new technologies for improving efficiency. Now the Agalarov family is making beautiful souvenir carpets that are more cost-effective to produce and easier to sell on the market. “We’re not just making a living for our family but keeping the carpet weaving art alive in the community,” says Zamina. “Right now, for example, we’re teaching the craft to three girls from other internally displaced families.”
On completing their сurrent technical training, the Agalarovs will become full members of ABAD. That means that they will be able to place and sell their products in ABAD’s large distribution network.