CAG registered as an NGO in 2012, however, the work of the organisation started back in 2009 when Gustaf Sörnmo, later the founder of CAG, travelled around Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. The purpose of Gustaf’s trip was to meet local organisations to learn more about their work and to see if there were any opportunities for future collaboration between Sweden and Central Asian NGOs. One partnership was formed during the trip between a local youth organisation in Southern Kyrgyzstan and the Swedish anti-rasist youth organisation Tamam, which CAG was affiliated with before registering as an NGO in 2012.
The focus of CAG from 2010-2012 was youth exchanges between Sweden and Kyrgyzstan, all with the aim to enhance the understanding of different contexts and methods of working, which resulted in the undertaking of joint projects. The exchanges also featured workshops on conflict management, human rights and democratic organisation. At this point, CAG was a loose network consisting of activists interested in the aforementioned contexts. Their interest in expanding their work in Central Asia grew and later led to the formalisation of CAG in 2012.
Parallel to the continuation of youth exchange projects, CAG also focused on establishing its role in future collaboration; who to collaborate with, in what way and to achieve what. During this period of time, CAG actively researched civil society development in Kyrgyzstan to better understand the contexts and how it is developing, organising itself and why. For further contextualisation purposes, CAG also mapped how international donors and other organisations were interacting with local organisations.
The research on the civil society context in Kyrgyzstan encouraged CAG to focus on grassroot activism, as these were identified as the actors with limited funding but the ability to initiate long term positive impact on local communities. As such, CAG collaborates with grassroot affiliated actors and encourages knowledge exchange to take place to ensure a flat hierarchy between the partners and towards the local communities they work in. This approach has facilitated the creation of long term partners, such as Bishkek Feminist Initiatves, but also the establishment of new organisations, such as Novi Ritm.
CAG has since developed as an organisation and established a set of thematic areas; all with the core aim of facilitating sustainable positive change together with its partners and local communities. The geographical focus has also expanded, from starting off in Kyrgyzstan to now encompass partners and projects in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. CAG also works to raise awareness about the challenges and contexts local activists and the local public in Central Asia finds itself in. Such initiatives include having a continuous dialogue with diplomats, ambassadors etc, as well as running public events and study sessions on civil society in Central Asia.