Tajikistan has yet to find its feet after earning independence in 1991. Though one of the most beautiful countries in the world - it is home to the Pamirs, a rugged mountain range larger than any outside Nepal - the country was ill-equipped for independence. The majority of the population is Tajik, although there is a sizable Uzbek population, as well as a small Russian population. The vast majority of the population is Muslim, 85% of which is Sunni, and another 5% of which is ShiвЂ™a. TajikistanвЂ™s role as a staging point for U.S. actions in Afghanistan has focused attention on the country, and economic development is slowly taking hold.
A civil war from 1992-1997 damaged the countryвЂ™s economic infrastructure and caused a sharp decline in industrial and agricultural production. It is hoped that efforts to continue privatization of medium and large state-owned enterprises will increase productivity and help raise the living standards of the 80% of its people currently living in poverty. High debt ratios, in addition to uneven implementation of structural reforms and weak governance, however, continue to pose significant threats to the countryвЂ™s sustainability. Cotton is the countryвЂ™s most important crop, and there is a small pool of mineral resources including silver, gold, uranium, and tungsten. Industry is limited to a large aluminum plant, hydropower facilities, and small obsolete factories in light industry and food processing.
CDCвЂ™s Central Asia Small and Medium Enterprise Development Project is administered by Pragma Corporation and funded by USAID to build pluralism and stability among the people and institutions of Central Asia. Furthermore, the project is designed to enhance the competitive and managerial capabilities of small-to-medium enterprises in four republics of Central Asia. Specific focus areas include business training, accounting reform, business advisory services, regional trade development and quality management.