Entrepreneurship Across Continents: Uzbekistan Business Leaders Reciprocal Exchange Programs

October 11, 2022
Funded by the U.S. Embassy in Uzbekistan and administered by American Councils for International Education, the Uzbekistan Business Leaders (UBL) program is designed for businesspersons and entrepreneurs from Uzbekistan with demonstrated leadership experience in the fields of business, entrepreneurship, innovation, social entrepreneurship, regional economic development, and technology. The program provides young business leaders and entrepreneurs from a wide range of economic and geographic areas with the experience, skills, and inspiration needed to foster new forms of innovation and stimulate private sector economic growth in both Uzbekistan and the U.S.

One of the ways UBL builds lasting, sustainable partnerships between emerging leaders from Uzbekistan and the United States is through reciprocal projects. This September, UBL administered two reciprocal exchange projects in Uzbekistan that brought U.S. business leaders to inspire new ideas among Uzbek entrepreneurs.

Chocolate Diplomacy
Amanda Wright, a chocolatier and co-founder of A519 Chocolates, visited Tashkent to collaborate with UBL participant Mariya Portnova on a project titled “Chocolate Academy in Central Asia.” Mariya, who owns Viva Maria Chocolaterie in Tashkent, met Amanda while visiting the U.S. on her UBL exchange. Together, Mariya and Amanda created the Chocolate Academy in Central Asia project, hosted in Tashkent, Bukhara, and Fergana. The objective of the Chocolate Academy in Central Asia project was to support women entrepreneurs and empower them to start their own businesses through professional culinary training. Amanda and Mariya kicked off their project with a two-day master class on artisanal chocolate making for pastry chefs and aspiring chocolatiers at the International Center of Uzbek Culinary Arts where participants made their own chocolates and discusses business practices.

Throughout the project, Amanda and Mariya promoted international cooperation and professional development for women while celebrating each other’s businesses. American Councils is proud to see an entrepreneurship project, and a friendship, that bridges the U.S. and Uzbekistan together.



Entrepreneurship Essentials
Jonathan Collins, Director of the Small Business Center at Durham Technical Community College and Regional Director for the North Carolina Small Business, engaged universities and entrepreneurship groups across Uzbekistan as part of a UBL reciprocal project, Entrepreneurship Essentials. The Entrepreneurship Essentials project’s main objective was to educate and inspire entrepreneurs in Uzbekistan to streamline their business practices and launch start-ups. Co-organized by UBL Spring 2022 alumni Natalya Romanova and Fatima Abduvakhobova, the Entrepreneurship Essentials project took place in Tashkent, Fergana, Andijan, and Samarkand. Jonathan shared business insights on marketing, finance, and operations, along with tips on entrepreneurship with an international audience, inspiring an entrepreneurial spirit in many. “The main goal of this event was to teach our entrepreneurs and show them how to open and establish a business,” said Natalya. “I believe that this event was very useful to our entrepreneurs.”

A video on Natalya and Fatima’s project featuring Jonathan



Reciprocal exchange opportunities through the Uzbekistan Business Leaders program build enduring professional relations and strong ties between the U.S. and Uzbekistan that benefit business and cultural relations. American Councils is proud to see these professional relations in action and looks forward to updates from program participants. Learn more about the Uzbekistan Business Leaders program.