It is never too late to learn


Kamala Umakhanova, 53, lives in Balakan region in north-western Azerbaijan, where she teaches history. Kamala, who has a passion for weaving and painting, always dreamt of learning the art of carpet weaving and running her own business. However, insufficient finances prevented her from learning this art and realizing her dream.

Kamala who has two children applied to the “ABAD” regional centre in Balakan to get extra job for improving her family’s financial situation. After some time, she was invited to an event organized at the “ABAD” centre where she learned about the activities to be carried out under the project funded by European Union, co-funded and implemented by UNDP.

Kamala, who in the beginning did not believe that she could start her own business, enrolled in a carpet weaving group and participated in a two-stage training course organised by the project. As a part of the first stage, she participated in a 13-day intensive training course, organised in Balakan, on entrepreneurship, financial literacy, legislation, taxes and other relevant topics. Then she took part in a 10-day intensive training on technical knowledge related to carpet weaving.

“Specialists from the Carpet Museum conducted the training sessions and taught us the intricacies of the art of carpet weaving. Previously, I had no idea about carpet weaving but thanks to this training I learned how to weave carpets easily”.

Several carpets woven by Kamala with equipment provided by the project were also displayed at exhibitions organised at the “ABAD” regional centre in Balakan. At these exhibitions, her decorative items were also displayed and sold, so that she could earn 300 AZN. Before the start of the quarantine regime, Kamala’s handicrafts were on sale in “ABAD” ethno-shops in Baku and Sheki. It is expected that she will earn around 400-500 AZN per month after end of the quarantine regime.

In the art centre of the school where she works, Kamala teaches weaving to her students, who are interested in this craft. In this way, she is helping the art of carpet weaving to flourish in the region. Due to space constraints at home she only has two students.

Kamala’s another dream is the opening of a carpet weaving centre in Balakan soon. In this way she and her colleagues will be able to teach the many people who want to learn the intricacies of carpet weaving.


Title of the action Support to the development of small family businesses in the Sheki-Zagatala Economic Zone through ABAD regional centre in Balakan
Priority sector Regional and Rural Development
Contracting party United Nations Development Programme
Beneficiary “ABAD” Public Legal Entity under the State Agency for Public Service and Social Innovations of the Republic of Azerbaijan
Duration of project 36 months (01.12.2017 – 01.12.2020)
European Union budget (EUR) EUR 820 000
Main objectives of project The main objective of the project is to contribute to the socio-economic development of the regions of Azerbaijan by fostering the creation of modern and sustainable family businesses in rural areas, and enabling equal opportunities and inclusivity in line with European standards and practices. It will also support community-based family businesses to produce high quality competitive value-added products.
Locations Sheki-Zaqatala Economic Zone (Balakan, Gakh, Gabala, Sheki, Oghuz, Zaqatala)
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