Ernist Ymanov is van-driving proof that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in rural Kyrgyzstan. With an 800 dollar loan - and a handy grasp of DIY plumbing know-how - he's set up the country's first mobile sauna, and it's already a hit with the locals. Hayley Platt reports.
It's strictly no goats allowed. But shepherd's are welcome. This is Kyrgyzstan's only known mobile sauna. And it's proving a big hit with the locals. (SOUNDBITE) (Kyrgyz) SHEPHERD AIBEK SAYING: "The arrival of the sauna was like a present for us. It is very comfortable, he remade everything inside the van. We thank Ernist for giving us an opportunity to wash and for thinking of people." Ernist Ymanov is the man behind the enterprise. With an 800 dollar loan from a friend, he made the necessary renovations. And what it lacks in mod cons, it makes up for in character and plumbing ingenuity. (SOUNDBITE) (Kyrgyz) ERNIST YMANOV, MOBILE-SAUNA INVENTOR AND OWNER, SAYING: "I was inspired when I came here and saw how hard the conditions were for the people who live here. They have to carry buckets to the woods to collect water for washing. That's how I got this idea." There are no expensive membership fees to pay. Just a dollar a visit, children are half price. (SOUNDBITE) (Kyrgyz) ERNIST YMANOV, MOBILE-SAUNA INVENTOR AND OWNER, SAYING: "As soon as I arrived locals formed a queue because everyone wanted to wash in the sauna. I don't have enough time to accommodate everyone." Ernist sees himself as a future sauna mogul - running a chain of mobile units. He plans to ask the goverment for a loan to buy new vans. And who knows, with Kyrgyzstan's 5.5 million population, it could become the country's first sauna franchise. That is, if and when Ernist decides to go full steam ahead.