Investing in Remittances in Central Asia

The Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan have some of the highest remittance rates in the world and are historically dependent on labour migration to the Russian Federation.

Money transfers from migrant workers in the Russian Federation to communities in Central Asia hit a record high of 79 billion USD in 20221 according to the World Bank, and have long served as a lifeline for migrant families, whilst also contributing considerably to Central Asian economies.

The dependency of Central Asian states on the Russian Federation as a destination country for migrant workers has highlighted their vulnerabilities to external shocks. For instance, the economic sanctions on the Russian Federation as a result of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine have had a considerable impact on the region.

To mark the International Day of Family Remittances celebrated worldwide on 16 June, IOM is providing free financial literacy sessions to prospective and returning migrants, and their families across Central Asia.

The initiative is the third phase of a project covering safe migration of seasonal workers from Central Asia to the United Kingdom, which supports communities to manage their remittances and sustainably invest their earnings.

It pays special attention to providing financial literacy sessions in more rural and less connected parts of the region. In addition, IOM will soon open investment and business development workshops for migrants returning from the UK who are interested in investing in or opening their own small-to-medium enterprises. Returning migrants will be provided 1+1 matching grants, with 50% being provided by the project and 50% the migrants’ own investment, as well as investment and business start-up support.

Central Asian governments are actively looking to create new employment opportunities abroad and to promote existing legal pathways for regular migration, including to the UK, the Republic of Korea, Japan, and Germany. The main legal pathway to the UK is through the seasonal workers scheme, which allows workers to travel to the UK to work in horticulture for up to 6 months.2 To support safe migration and combat exploitation, IOM is providing support to

migrants before, during and after their migration journey to the UK through pre-departure orientation, implementation of safe migration hotlines, awareness raising campaigns on safe migration and the risks of scams and misinformation, capacity building for Central Asian Embassies in the UK to assist their citizens, and reintegration opportunities at home.

“IOM’s new project seeks to strengthen the protection services available to migrants to ensure they can migrate in a way that is safe, regular, and orderly, but also to equip migrants with the relevant skills and knowledge to invest their remittances in a sustainable way in countries of origin through financial literacy and skills training,”

said Jason Theede, IOM’s Senior Regional Labour Mobility and Social Inclusion Specialist.

In order to support migrants to invest their earnings in a sustainable way, IOM has been providing 1+1 matching grants and business support to migrants returning from the UK for the past two years.

“After installing a drip irrigation system, I hope to get more honey than before,”

says Dastanbek Kudaiberdiev, a new beekeeper in the Batken region of Kyrgyzstan.

Dustanbek returned from the UK this year and received a matching grant from IOM Kyrgyzstan. With support from a Kyrgyz incubating hub, he developed a small honey business with a new drip irrigation system to keep his beehives flourishing during the drought of 2023. I

IOM in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan will be the latest two countries to begin providing matching grants in their countries. The IOM missions in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan will provide capacity building sessions to the Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan missions on providing matching grants.

During the previous two phases, regional cooperation between countries has been key to the project’s success. Experts in Tajikistan have provided regular training in Uzbekistan for government staff, whilst information and data have been shared continuously between IOM missions. Inter-governmental study tours have also been conducted, such as those between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan on efficient hotline operation and referral mechanism.

IOM’s project will run from 2024-2026 across four countries in Central Asia and in the UK.


For more information, please contact: Bermet Moldobaeva, IOM Kyrgyzstan,

Elizabeth Linklater, IOM Tajikistan,

SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities