Astana – The Bolashak Fellows Association, the international scholarship launched by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev in 1993, announced the beginning of a startup contest for entrepreneurs aged 18 to 29. The information was released July 20 during a Central Communication Service press conference.
The winners will receive cash grants to implement their projects – 7 million tenge (US$37,403) for first place, 5 million tenge (US$26,716) for second and 3 million tenge (US$16,029) for third. They will also be supported by the Damu Fund, which will provide bank guarantees. BI Group head Aidyn Rakhimbayev said his construction firm will offer an additional 10 million tenge (US$53,433) in grants for the winners.
“Our company will provide support to participants of Startup Bolashak in the fields of information technology and marketing. We want good projects not to remain just a business plan; we want them to bring money to young entrepreneurs. Therefore, we will sign real contracts with them; we will work together,” he said, adding the most interesting projects will get additional contracts even if they are not among the winners.
The contest is open to all young people in the country, regardless of whether they are Bolashak scholarship recipients, said Bolashak alumni association head Kuandyk Bishimbayev. He added the business-supporting initiative belongs to the president of the country and is part of his 100 Concrete Steps programme.
“Young entrepreneurs will have an opportunity to receive consultations on how to build and grow business and how to organise sales. All of the courses will be conducted at Bolashak Corporate University,” he added.
The contest will last three-four months and is expected to be presented as a TV reality show premiering in December.
“One of the national television channels will broadcast Startup Bolashak in a reality show format. Millions of Kazakhstan’s citizens will find out about the projects; the ideas will get the support of compatriots and will be able to attract potential investors,” said Kanysh Tuleushin, managing director of Baiterek National Holding.
The competition will not only support existing business projects, but will also promote entrepreneurship among youth, said Damu Fund board chair Lyazzat Ibragimova.
“A significant part of Kazakhstan’s population is young people aged up to 25 years. Each of them has an active lifestyle and wants to have his own business. In this regard, our country has a great potential to create a large number of entrepreneurs,” she said.
The submission period for applications will end Sept. 20, with the winners to be announced Nov. 21 during the business plans marathon.