Entrepreneur turns hobby into business

ASTANA – Bakhargul Tolegenkyzy, one of Kazakhstan’s 100 New Faces, has been collecting Turkic gold and silver antiques since she was young, eventually presenting them in her own private museum. In 2000, she founded Ademi-Ai Plus, which has become one of country’s leaders in national souvenir production.

459ef9b4fcef12c90233f5a612e97db6Tolegenkyzy moved to Kazakhstan from China in 1994.

“I remember when the news came that Kazakhstan had received independence; we were so happy when we were still students in China. I heard this news and I set a goal to go to my historical homeland. After moving to Kazakhstan, I opened my own private museum for the first time, where I presented different things in the national style that I had collected since my student days, and then I travelled all over Kazakhstan with that exhibition,” she said.

The museum, in Almaty, has a collection of more than 1,000 exhibits which she often takes to different locations. The items include jewellery dating to the first-third centuries B.C., as well as clothes, a variety of household utensils, equipment and cold steel as recent as the 19-20th centuries.

Love for history brought Tolegenkyzy to produce Kazakh-style souvenirs and accessories. Her company also sells textiles, silver jewellery and business accessories and was the first in the country to introduce gilding. Ademi-Ai Plus branches have been opened in each region.

“Our goal is to revive the ancient cultural heritage of the Kazakh people and their application for the benefit of society. To breathe life into the forgotten past by writing words of wishes and blessings on the souvenirs, as well as the winged expressions of our people; thus, to show the world the rich and unique soul of the Kazakhs,” she said.

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Tolegenkyzy thinks the main components of success for any business are, first of all, hard work and patience.

“We must not only know and love our work, but also constantly learn new things. Equally important is the benevolent atmosphere both in the family and in the team where you work,” she said.

Running a business takes strength and perseverance; it requires a lot of work capacity, knowledge, responsibility and skills.

“For me this path was led by a great love of national traditions, love for applied art in the national style. I started to collect such things from a small age. Kazakh art is worthy of high praise, so I want it to be known in the whole world and I think that promoting this art is my civic duty,” she added.

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Tolegenkyzy noted it is not easy to be a successful entrepreneur, especially a businesswoman. A female entrepreneur must still think about her family so her children can be fed and dressed on time, in addition to meeting their many other needs.

The support of her family, especially her spouse, was the key element in successfully developing her business.

“He is a reliable support for me and a partner and a wise business adviser,” she said.

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