Chinese Entrepreneur’s Success Shows What is Possible in Kazakhstan

ALMATY – There are few successful foreign businessmen heading domestic companies in Kazakhstan, but Qigang Chen – the founder and president of TsinKaz – is one of them. Under his management, the company has reached impressive results.

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TsinKaz founder Qigang Chen

In late 1998, the young and ambitious Chinese entrepreneur founded a company in Almaty for the production of tomato products. At the time, few believed in the success of this endeavour, as it had been a difficult period for the economy and society as a whole. The country was implementing market-oriented reforms, but amid the financial crisis in Southeast Asia, Russia and some other countries, the real sector of the republic was going through hard times.

“The idea is interesting and original, but risky; you can lose a lot of time and money before you reach success,” warned his businessmen friends. Qigang Chen listened to their views and advice, but held firmly to the goal. His intuition and analysis suggested the chosen direction was correct.

In observing the Almaty regional food market since 1993, he had noticed the market for tomato paste was one of the popular traditional Kazakhs food in which demand clearly exceeded supply. In addition, the quality of these products was very low. Therefore, Qigang Chen saw this as an opportunity that could not be missed. What remained was developing a business strategy, recruiting a team of like-minded professionals, purchasing equipment and starting production.

The years have shown the fears of the sceptics were in vain, as his business sense allowed the bold entrepreneur to fully implement his plans. The corporation founded under Qigang Chen’s leadership has gone from a small, unknown workshop to a large, dynamically-developing company – a recognised leader in the market of tomato products and canned vegetables not only in Kazakhstan but throughout Central Asia. Today, more than 40 percent of this segment in Kazakhstan is associated with products under the TsinKaz trademark. The company regularly participates in various local and international food producers’ forums, exhibitions and fairs. In 2008, TsinKaz signed a declaration of quality with the Global Quality Promotion programme and was awarded the golden quality certificate. The following year, the company won the title of “No. 1 producer of tomato products, 2000–2009 Kazakhstan” in the Choice of the Year in Kazakhstan festival competition. The advanced management system used by TsinKaz played a significant role in this success, as well as the large and friendly collective of the enterprise.

“Today, 134 people constantly work in TsinKaz. Our employees are regularly trained for professional development in China, Germany and Russia. There, they get acquainted with new technologies and exchange experience with colleagues. During the training they also have a rest,” said TsinKaz Managing Director Alma Mukusheva.

According to Mukusheva, increased employee motivation is one of the priorities in the TsinKaz development strategy.

“We understand that without the solid, amicable, harmoniously-working collective, it is simply impossible to achieve any heights. If every employee responsibly and efficiently fulfills their part of the overall work, it will definitely affect the final result. The management, in turn, does everything for people to feel support and care. At his or her birthday, each worker receives congratulations and gifts and festive events and corporate events are held regularly. All this strengthens the positive atmosphere in the collective and rallies people. Initiative is the embodiment of its founder Qigang Chen on the localisation of human resources,” she said.

Being a leader in the industry and proving its effectiveness, TsinKaz gets well-deserved assistance from the state, participating in various state support programmes for small and medium businesses. The interest here is mutually beneficial: the company receives various preferences, subsidies and grants for production development; the state, in helping the business, strengthens the whole economy. For example, in the framework of the Productivity 2020 programme, the company managed to significantly improve the important indicator of labour productivity. But for TsinKaz to dwell on this is not intended – the company has adopted and implemented a comprehensive plan to increase productivity. TsinKaz doesn’t intend to stop at this point; the company has adopted and implemented the comprehensive plan on that increased effectiveness of labor productivity.

Kazakhstan’s participation in such a large-scale integration project as the Eurasian Economic Union could not leave operations of TsinKaz unaffected. Previously, for TsinKaz to export goods to neighbouring countries was not very profitable, but the removal of customs and other barriers has opened wide opportunities for expansion into neighbouring countries. The example of TsinKaz is a graphic illustration of the effectiveness of Kazakhstan’s integration policy, which allowed domestic producers to reach one of the largest consumer markets with a population of over 170 million people.

“Our production extends across all Kazakhstan to 42 regions. Besides, we now come into good contacts with partners in other countries. Their interest in our production is now big; many would like to cooperate with us. As they say, ‘the rumor is ahead of us.’ Businessmen leave neighbouring countries, find us on our site, Tomato.kz, and are interested in our production at the international exhibitions, forums and fairs where we take part,” said TsinKaz Quality Manager Zhanar Rakhymbekova.

Besides traditional TsinKaz tomato paste, the company makes a number of products, beginning with vegetable salads and finishing with six types of ketchups. Ketchup consumption, a product which isn’t really typical of Kazakh cuisine, is gradually growing in Kazakhstan and in the future TsinKaz plans to increase production of its own ketchups and expand their range. The company not only responds to changes in the structure of consumer demand, but also seeks to implement strategy about mass production of products proposed by founder and President Qiqang Chen.

For product packaging and storage, the company launched production of its own containers – plastic bottles made by innovative technology.

“Our company produces its own multi-layer packaging by using a new material EVOН – a co-polymer of ethylene and vinyl alcohol. When introduced into the polymeric structure of the packing material, it obtained a transparent film with barrier properties on the level of aluminum. Polypropylene is chosen as the main material forming an external and internal surface of a new plastic bottle; EVOH is used for an inside barrier layer. The bottle contains five layers and ensures the safety of the product without preservatives for up to 18 months. Such packing doesn’t concede to a glass bottle; it is close to its transparency and thus weighs much less,” said Mukusheva.

The example of Qigang Chen, who decided 18 years ago to open a new plant in a foreign country and achieved recognised success, shows that nothing is impossible for those who have chosen a solid target and are firm in achieving their goal. Over the years, he and his staff have become one big and happy family and Kazakhstan his second home.

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