Centralasiengrupperna was formalized and registered as an NGO in 2012; however, the work of the organization started back in 2009 when Gustaf Sörnmo, later the founder of CAG, visited activists and civil society initiatives in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. The purpose of the trip was to meet local organizations to learn more about their work and to see if there were any opportunities for collaboration between Sweden and Central Asian CSOs. One partnership was formed during the trip between a local youth organization in Southern Kyrgyzstan and the Swedish youth organization Tamam (which CAG was loosely affiliated with before formalization).

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 approaches within civil society, which resulted in the undertaking of various joint projects. The exchanges also featured workshops on conflict management, human rights and democratic organization. At this point, CAG was a loose network consisting of activists interested in the aforementioned contexts. Their interest in expanding the collaborations with CSOs 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 partnerships; whom to collaborate with, in what way and with what goals.

The research CAG conducted related to 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, partnerships were initiated with grassroot actors where the form of collaboration was built on non-hierarchical and democratic principles. This approach has facilitated the creation of long term partners, such as Bishkek Feminist Initiatives, but also supporting the establishment of new organizations, such as Novi Ritm.

CAG has since developed as an organization 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 in Kyrgyzstan to now encompassing 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.

Learn more about the journey of Centralasiengrupperna: