Young entrepreneurs in Kazakhstan need a boost — Saby Foundation’s Build Your Business contest

Kazakhstan has seen a growing number of adults working on starting their own business. According to the GEM’s (Global Entrepreneurship Monitor) 2020 review, 59% of Kazakh adults (18–64) stated that they plan on starting a business within the next three years. Moreover, it is noteworthy that Kazakhstan’s Total early-stage Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA) rate of 20% is the highest among the Central & East Asia GEM economies.

The Build Your Business contest was established within the framework of the Saby Foundation and has now been running for eight consecutive years. Our idea behind the contest is to help young entrepreneurs in Kazakhstan turn their creative ideas into successful businesses, by providing them with the right foundation to realise their projects.

With such an ambitious population of young adults, there is a need for support networks such as ours. In the Build Your Business contest, all runners-up and winners receive generous non-reimbursable grants, amounting to a total of more than $1.5 million. Apart from the financial aid, hundreds of entrepreneurs also have received advisory assistance, established contacts in their respective industries, gained new experiences, and further advanced their businesses.

The contest has become a huge success with many aspiring businessmen and businesswomen looking for ways to address existing social problems by entering projects that seek to make a positive impact on society. In the past eight years, over 60 projects were registered spanning various sectors including technology, agriculture, education and medicine. The businesses were not only success stories domestically, but also garnered international recognition.

One of the contest’s past winners, Aselle Jekenova , who started a maternity clothing brand Daria, commented: “We are very grateful to the organizers of the contest — the Saby Foundation & Aselle Tasmagambetova and Kenes Rakishev personally — for believing in us and giving us the opportunity to keep on developing.”

Another past winner, Dosjan Jusupov, who founded the Cerebra project involving medical technology, said: “Our case study is a good example of why such contests should take place. I believe it is greatly advantageous for the young people to participate, as the participants and winners of the contest receive attention from journalists and get covered by the media.”

I hope we can continue helping the young entrepreneurs in Kazakhstan realise their potential, as well as encourage them to never give up on their ideas, to be open to new opportunities, and to work through the challenges that come with them.