Balancing Motherhood and Entrepreneurship: the Daily Feats of AWE Alumni | Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs

Written by Carina Rudolph-Math, a VSFS Intern with the U.S. Department of State. She is currently Majoring in European Studies and Political Science through the Dual BA Program with Trinity College Dublin and Columbia University.

Nazgul Nassiyeva, from the Zhambyl region in the southern part of Kazakhstan, participated in the 2023 AWE cohort and represents one of the many successes of the U.S. Department of State’s efforts to increase women’s economic empowerment and involvement in pursuit of social stability and gender equality abroad.


Nassiyeva is the founder and owner of a successful business which produces high quality and affordable diapers intended to cater to the needs of children with disabilities. As a busy mother of two children under the age of eight – one with special needs – she is well aware of the specific, critical, and nuanced needs of her target market. Her company, which she started only two years ago, is called Tolagay. The name for the business was inspired by a traditional Kazakh fairytale about a brave, healthy, and heroic child and therefore serves additionally to destigmatize the often misrepresented special needs population in Kazakhstan.

Not only has Nassiyeva successfully designed and launched a full-scale business which produces valuable and original physical products, she has also recently developed a mobile app dedicated to providing other mothers of children with special needs with both social support and business education. Her app, Bakytty Ana which translates to Happy Woman, was largely inspired by her own business education, which she received through the U.S. Department of State’s AWE program. Nassiyeva recognizes the value of the opportunities made available to her as a result of her participation, including participating in the 2024 International Visitor Leadership Program “Women’s Entrepreneurship: Supporting the Next Generation of Women Business Leaders”, and cited AWE workshops focused on financial literacy and business English language learning as particularly valuable aspects of her entrepreneurial education. Programming like the workshops ensured she was equipped with the skills and knowledge to effectively communicate with investors and even expand her business beyond Kazakhstan into the international market—a project and business goal she is currently working on. Bakytty Ana, which was just recently successfully launched, seeks to give back to her community and focuses on developing a strong support network very similar to the one she experienced as a part of the AWE community.

Balancing motherhood and entrepreneurship is no doubt an incredibly challenging feat. Nazgul Nassiyeva, however, manages both beautifully. She sees her entrepreneurial ventures as an effective reaction to the financial strain of comfortably raising children with disabilities. Well aware of the valuable role women have within the family unit, Nassiyeva strives everyday to make her children proud. When asked how she manages to be successful in both her personal and public endeavors, she referred to the incredible and often underestimated power and strength unique to women, particularly mothers. Her primary goal is to help marginalized communities of women and children. Through her business ventures she has succeeded in achieving her goal of selflessly helping others—acting as inspiration and support for many women, and especially mothers that may be experiencing similar challenges.

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) of the U.S. Department of State fosters mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries to promote friendly and peaceful relations. We accomplish this mission through academic, cultural, sports, and professional exchanges that engage youth, students, educators, artists, athletes, and rising leaders in the United States and more than 160 countries.