New Online Store Sells Products Made by the Physically Challenged

ASTANA – InvaMade, a new online store launched Feb. 5 in Almaty, is hoping to serve as a window of opportunity for Kazakh citizens with physical challenges to earn extra cash.

Clock by Nikolai Bashkirtsev

Clock by Nikolai Bashkirtsev

“I have heard of social entrepreneurship and started to collect more information about what it was,” said creator Aizhan Khalilova-Borsukbayeva in a phone interview with The Astana Times. “Unfortunately, in Kazakhstan it is not as developed. The first thing that came to my mind was to build a platform, a link between the skilled people who can’t work in offices and consumers, and that’s how I thought of opening the online store. I decided to occupy this niche.”

The site has about 220 items for sale, including various paintings and crafts like head bands, ear rings, bracelets, frames, clothing items, toys, clocks and decorations. Khalilova-Borsukbayeva intends to work hard for her cause and is already engaged in numerous discussions to extend the line.

“I am in talks with different companies and individuals to join our project and expand the item list within the next few weeks,” she said.

She is currently looking for new talented people who are physically challenged to join her project.

“I hear about them, get their contacts and offer for them to be a part of InvaMade. We meet, talk and agree on terms; I look at their products and whoever agrees is using our online store. Then, I visit them to take photos or some send their own photos and I upload them online,” said Khalilova-Borsukbayeva.

Head band, by Larisa Kiseleva

The young entrepreneur is thinking big and positive in the prospect and wants to attract large companies.

“There is an association for the blind, for instance, and we could work together. Another society is the library for the blind; I am also in talks with them. They have books that they could sell on our site. There are also boarding schools and foster cares that have talented kids. They don’t sell their products, or sell them at seldom exhibitions or just give them away. I offer them to sell it on our website,” she said.

Most people make their crafts at home and just give them as gifts.

“People were not sure of how the sales would go and were somewhat doubtful about everything. But then, after we made the first sales, people got more confidence and now are inspired to create, paint more and work hard. They’re under a different emotional state now. Now they know that people are interested in their works; their creations can bring profit and are in demand,” she said.

Winter Look, by Marina Guskova

Winter Look, by Marina Guskova

Comments from customers are important for her companions.

“Our people get feedback from real clients and not friends or relatives. Clients’ reactions matter to them a lot. It gives them confidence and inspiration.

“In the future, I want to unite all the handicapped in Kazakhstan and expand the sales. I would also like to hold master classes to help create brand names, for instance, for the creators to leave signatures on their works, etc.,” said Khalilova-Borsukbayeva.

InvaMade currently makes deliveries in Almay for a fee of 400 tenge (US$1.11). The store’s commission is 30 percent.

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