Business news in brief

KMF, a microfinance organisation, and International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, signed a memorandum allowing the former to take a three-year, $82 million syndicated loan, the largest in the history of Kazakh microfinance organisations. The funds are earmarked for entrepreneurship development, specifically for micro and small enterprises in rural areas and female entrepreneurship, said KMF management board chairperson Shalkar Zhussupov. The syndicated loan was granted by several financial companies from Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the U.S. IFC will provide only $10 million and be responsible for the currency risk, as the loan is in tenge.

Latvian carrier airBaltic will launch direct flights April 29 along the Riga-Almaty-Riga route. The five-hour, 45-minute flights will operate three times a week using a new Bombardier CS300 aircraft. A one-way ticket in economy class will start at $196, including taxes, duties and charges; business class and premium tickets will cost at least $246 and $980, respectively. airBaltic provides flights from Riga to more than 60 destinations, including cities in the Commonwealth of Independent States, Europe, the Middle East and Scandinavia.

Railways platforms and grain carriers will be manufactured at an existing plant in the North Kazakhstan region. Facility reconstruction is underway and will enable producing 120 long-base platforms. Approximately 300 million tenge (US$914,700) in new equipment will double production capacity to manufacture 240 railway сarriages annually. The plans are to sell products valued at 23.4 billion tenge (US$71.6 million) this year.

A union of manufacturing companies has been established in Kazakhstan. Members include machine companies and six industry associations composed of 243 companies in the pharmaceutical, elevator production, chemical, light, furniture and paper and packaging industries. Member companies make a significant contribution to the national economy, as aggregate tax expenses for the last five years exceeded 100 billion tenge (US$305 million). The union was set up with the goal of representing manufacturers’ interests in the non-extractive sector and formulating a single stance on strategic directions for industry development. The companies united to provide access to key modernisation drivers, namely technology and finance, and reduce entry barriers into local and foreign markets, according to management board chairperson Marat Bakkulov.

A smart district will be built in Astana using private investors’ funds. The site, surrounded by Barayev, Kravcov, Tashenov and Khussein streets in Zhastar city district, will be equipped with 10 different technologies to ensure comfortable facilities such as heated pavements and roads and smart planning systems for drivers and pedestrians, lightning and water drainage and eco-friendly waste. The district will also include smart bus stops, parking lots, children’s playgrounds, comfortable ramps, Wi-Fi, smart gardens and benches. Astana Innovations is responsible for the know-how, which will be used as a benchmark during construction.

Saraishyk, the first Kazakh enterprise specialising in goat cultivation, will use Saanen goat milk to produce ice cream, butter and baby food. Using Italian and Serbian equipment, the Atyrau region plant will manufacture 180 tonnes of milk and 140 tonnes of milk products. The company has purchased 450 goats with the goal of increasing production capacity and now plans to also generate 21 tonnes of yoghurt, 15 tonnes of cheese and four tonnes of goat meat. The farm also has sheep, camel and horse herds and meat processing facilities.

Get The Astana Times stories sent directly to you! Sign up via the website or subscribe to our Twitter and Telegram!