KYZYLORDA – Akim (Governor) of the Kyzylorda region Krymbek Kusherbayev held a meeting in late April to discuss the implementation of the Akniet programme by the Russian company LUKOIL, which involves the utilisation of dozens of grants in the amount of 1 million tenge (US$5,492) that were given to rural entrepreneurs in 2013 for socially important projects.
Opening the meeting, Kusherbayev highlighted the importance of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) for sustainable development. He stressed that Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev in his recent state-of-the-nation address determined the development of SMEs to be the main instrument of industrial and social modernisation of Kazakhstan.
However, its share in the Aral Sea region is still low, just 8 percent of the gross regional product. The regional authorities intend to improve the situation.
“Our goal is to increase this figure,” said Kusherbayev, noting that state bodies will work to provide comprehensive assistance to SMEs and make every effort to develop entrepreneurship.
The akim discussed measures to support SMEs and significant funds allocated by the state for implementation of business initiatives. He stressed that in the current year, the sum of loans and macro-credits from the state will significantly increase: in total rural businessmen will receive 4 billion tenge (US$21.9 million).
Kusherbayev praised the Akniet programme, which has become a new project of LUKOIL. It gives villagers an opportunity to start their own business, to find a stable source of income and provide people with jobs. The previous programme, Arai, implemented in the Mangistau and Aktobe regions, allowed the Russian company to support and create more than 500 new small and medium-sized businesses.
Last year, the Akniet project in pilot mode was implemented in the Karmakshy, Zhalagash and Syr Dariya districts of the Aral region. It has become very popular: about 1,500 applications were received for the contest. After careful selection, the special commission gave the green light to 77 projects that involve the improvement of rural infrastructure, opening new jobs for youth and socially vulnerable people.
According to director of the Kazakh branch of LUKOIL Overseas Service Andrey Kirillov, the Akniet project has proven its worth in the Aral Sea region. Thanks to the grants, dozens of furniture, clothing, confectionery shops, mini-centres and pharmacies, dental rooms and other enterprises of social infrastructure were opened in the villages of the three districts. In this regard, LUKOIL and executive bodies have expressed readiness to continue its implementation. The project has been accepting applications since May 10.