Vahhobjon Achildiev’s studio is a landmark in the centre of his hometown Shahritus in southernTajikistan and he is a well-recognized fashion-monger for local trendy youth.
But the road to success in tailoring was not easy for Vahhobjon – he had to go through a long hard life of loading freight in Russian construction sites and factories, unpaid or poorly paid, living in unbearable conditions, in fear of being caught and deported as could not afford to legalize his work authorization.
One day his darkest fear came true and this young Tajik man faced the fate of thousands of others from his country. He was deported and banned from the Russian Federation, where he used to send home the hard-earned cash that took care of his mother, two children, wife, and four younger brothers.
This was in back in 2015. He did not know what to do and how, and even after he heard of a local NGO helping vulnerable migrants hit with a re-entry ban, as a someone who got used to solve his problems by himself, he was too ashamed to walk-in and suggest a business idea he had been planning for a while, but could not find investments for it.
A local community head spoke for him with Chashma, a local civil society organization responsible for implementation of the IOM/USAID project on income generation for former migrants.
There was a gender aspect to this too. Many conservative Tajikistan people think that tailoring is a female profession and only ladies order clothes at tailors, while men buy everything they want at bazaars. But Vahhobjon was full of optimism.
"I trusted my inner voice", he says. "I knew men would want well-fit, bespoke suits, handmade especially for them."
IOM, in addition to wanting to support a vulnerable former migrant, had the identical view at and helped Vahhobjon to rent a studio in the centre of town and furnished it with tailoring equipment.
They were both proved right. Business is booming for Vahhobjon now, he lives with family, enjoys being a mini-celeb with a long list of clients waiting for measuring. He doesn’t need to risk the danger and loneliness of migration anymore. Now one of his brothers is part of the business and the family is looking towards their future with hope and confidence.