Social Innovation and Volunteerism in Uzbekistan

Wintersemester 2012 / 2013

Executive Summary 


Since 1966, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has been partnering with people at all levels of society to help drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the overall quality of life. In Uzbekistan the UNDP concentrates on the areas of poverty reduction, environment, energy and democratic governance. Within its project “Social Innovation and Volunteerism”, UNDP focuses on sustainable development and enabling environment for Uzbek youth. Concerning the youth bulge (around 60% of population are below 30), the high rates of youth unemployment and lack of infrastructure and possibilities in rural areas with a high density of young people, UNDP considers the engagement in social innovation and entrepreneurship an excellent chance for empowering people to have a positive impact on their society. However, as the field of social innovation/entrepreneurship is rather unknown and new, in July 2012 the UNDP started its two-year project “Social Innovation and Volunteerism in Uzbekistan“. The goal of the project is to establish an environment that will enable the Uzbek youth to actively engage in social innovation. In collaboration with Vienna University of Economics and Business, a student team coached by the Institute of Entrepreneur- ship and Innovation was assigned to research on the topic and provide the UNDP with an understandable explanation as well as suggestions on how to implement concrete methodologies at place and start creating a sustainable social innovation environment in Uzbekistan. The outcome of the project is a coherent 4-stage model which includes methodologies for the different stages of social innovation. 

Initial Situation 

Uzbekistan is a post-Soviet country in Central Asia, struggling with its transition to a market economy. Major challenges for Uzbekistan are its high unemployment rate, the discrepancy between urban and rural areas, a low stage of technological development and limited infrastructure, as well as a high emigration of knowledge. 

To address these issues the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Uzbekistan launched a two-year project in July 2012, which aims at empowering Uzbek young and well-educated people to engage in social innovation and social entrepreneurship.

Project Target 

Expected outcome of the project is a thorough explanation and under- standing of social entrepreneurship and innovation as well as an implementation plan for a selected number of methodologies to support social innovation efforts in Uzbekistan. The implementation of these methods is expected to be the first step in the creation of a social innovation environment in Uzbekistan. 

Procedure & Methodology 

Theoretical Background 

In order to provide the UNDP with an elaborate and comprehensible definition of social innovation and social entrepreneurship, we con- ducted an extensive secondary research including approximately 30 sources. 

Identifying Supporting Methods 

As next step, we further explored 120 different methodologies which can support and encourage social innovation. According to the pro- posed selection criteria we chose the most relevant ones and illustrated them in a coherent table. 

Designing an Implementation Plan 

As last step, we suggested a 4-stage model to the UNDP. This model includes the most relevant and suitable methodologies for supporting social innovation in Uzbekistan, and goes from workshops to create initial social innovation awareness and knowledge up to the creation of a place where potential social entrepreneurs can meet, establish a community and collaborate in order to target the most problematic social issues of the country. 


Firstly, a definition of social innovation has been elaborated. The team focused on providing the UNDP with sufficient information about what social innovation is and which methods are suitable to support social innovation as such, as well as which stages are to be gone through to reach a highly developed social innovation environment. 

Secondly, a four-stage model for the implementation has been developed. Stage 1 concentrates on the creation of social innovation knowledge among the target group. The “workshop” aims to create the needed knowledge for social innovation and encourage the diffusion of the learned approaches into rural areas. Stage 2 focuses on raising the awareness of the topic as well as further diffusion of social innovation knowledge to rural areas, supporting the micro-workshop initiative of stage 1. It is essential to use different PR tools in order to promote social innovation in different offline and online channels. Stage 3 is dedicated to finding interested partners who are willing to actively engage in social innovation by providing resources and who may act as business angels. In order to accomplish this goal, existing networks and communities in Uzbekistan have to be identified and contacted. Stage 4 addresses the question how to bring the social innovation community together at one place as there are no physical points of contacts for different social innovation actors in Uzbekistan yet. This facility acts as a „club house“ where potential social entrepreneurs/innovators can work together on SI business ideas, meet with possible investors and use the needed equipment. This method has been particularly successful in other countries worldwide, „the HUB“, being a best case example.

Cooperation Partner

  • United Nations Development Programme
    (UNDP) Uzbekistan
    41/3, Mirabad street
    Tashkent, 100015, Uzbekistan

  • Contact Person
    Emiliya Asadova

Student Team

  • Julia Arrighi
    Andrea Barth
    Andreas Brunauer
    Katarína Dudžáková