“Budapest feels like a second home to me” – Interview with Hikmat Hasanov

April 18th, 2024

“Budapest feels like a second home to me” – Interview with Hikmat Hasanov

April 18th, 2024

In March we kicked off the 2024 webinar series of the Alumni Network Hungary with an inspiring presentation by Hikmat Hasanov, a former Stipendium Hungaricum scholarship holder and our alumni volunteer who shared his experience as a professional fundraiser. Hikmat is now back in his home country, Azerbaijan and we have caught him for a quick interview about his professional journey.

You finished your master’s at the Budapest Business School in 2021. How did your studies there help with your work as a fundraiser? 

Studying in Hungary was one of the best decisions I ever made. The country offers high-quality education, with scholarships for international students such as the Stipendium Hungaricum Scholarship Programme. During my time in Hungary, I built many connections with people from various countries, which truly broadened my perspective. It has also improved my networking skills, which is very important as a fundraiser, and it helped me to build lasting relationships at organizations and startups I have worked for.


Your first business venture was an Education Center called GIIM. What did this company do?

We established GIIM in 2019 with six people, with the mission to provide study services, professional training, and language courses abroad for university students.  We conducted thorough market analyses to refine our products and provided top-tier education services at competitive rates. Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, we experienced rapid growth during this period too. In 2023, our company was rebranded, but it is still operating.

You are also familiar with the start-up scene, as you were working for a start-up called GET. What was your role there?

GET was a scooter rental startup. I joined the startup in 2021 as a fundraiser/business development manager to raise money from local and international investors. I was constantly researching, meeting stakeholders, and attending networking events. As a result, I raised around $1M within just 4 months. In January 2022 the startup was sold to another company, and we had a successful exit.

You are the Deputy Chair of the Azerbaijan-Hungary Alumni Union – AHAU. What does this organization do?

AHAU brings together Azerbaijani graduates of Hungarian universities. It was established as an NGO in 2019, and I have been actively involved in its operations as a board member since 2022. In just two years, we have achieved significant milestones with 600 registered members and over 1000 alumni participating in events both in Hungary and Azerbaijan. We collaborate closely with partners, including the Ministry of Science and Education of Azerbaijan, the Hungarian Embassy in Azerbaijan, the Azerbaijani Youth Foundation and the Embassy of Azerbaijan in Hungary among others. This year marks the 5th anniversary of AHAU for which we will host a dedicated event in September.

For two years you have been working for the SOS Children’s Village Azerbaijan as a Senior Corporate fundraiser. What is the achievement that you are mostly proud of there?

My primary role involves securing funding from various corporations to support our programs. What I appreciate most about this position is the direct impact we have on the lives of children and young people who lack parental care. Our village-based programs extend beyond our residents to benefit communities across Azerbaijan. One project I am particularly proud of is “Girls in STEAM,” conducted in collaboration with a telecommunications company in Azerbaijan last year. This initiative provided IT-related training to girls in rural areas, where such opportunities were scarce. We empowered around 20 girls to pursue careers as Social Media Managers, Web Developers, and Graphic Designers, enriching both their lives and their communities.

What would you suggest to those students who are thinking of starting their own business?

I would advise them to have confidence in themselves and to take that initial step, as it is often the most challenging. It is important to have clear business goals and an idea that addresses specific issues to pursue entrepreneurial ventures. I embarked on this journey at a young age, and I believe that having a supportive mentor and assembling a strong team is crucial for achieving goals and personal growth.

Do you still have connections to Hungary through work, studies, or friends? How often do you visit Hungary?

I have many friends in Hungary, with whom I stay in touch through social media. Budapest feels like a second home to me, which is why I often visit the city to relax, unwind, and catch up with friends. Thanks to the direct flight, I find it convenient to travel to Hungary every 2-3 months.


To watch the webinar of Hikmat or other professionals and scientists, join the Alumni Network Hungary !