Kazakh President visits textile, sewing equipment factory that employs socially vulnerable

NUR-SULTAN – President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev visited the Astana Utaria production and innovation company Nov. 1, noting the quality and relevance of their products and the company’s social impact, reported total.kz.

L-R: Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and Saule Shauyenova. Photo credit: inform.kz.

Astana Utaria, established in 2002 by Saule Shauyenova, assembles and supplies professional sewing equipment and manufactures work wear and household and technical products. The company is one of the light industry leaders; in 2018, it won “The best product of Kazakhstan,” a national award for quality goods and services established by the then President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, in 2006.

“I enjoyed visiting your factory. Indeed, it is a necessary and innovative production with good equipment; a socially responsible enterprise. Most importantly, the employees here are such wonderful people,” said Tokayev.

During his visit, he noted the importance of the factory’s work for the country, adding the government will endorse any enterprise that supports and creates jobs for citizens in socially vulnerable categories. The factory employs 460, 45 of whom are socially vulnerable.

“Any business, regardless of its direction, should be responsible for what is happening in society. Our company acquired 11 apartments in the regions where our production facilities are located and donated them to our least socially protected employees. We are providing hot meals and transportation to and from work for our employees. In Nur-Sultan and Zhezkazgan, we built dormitories for 156 and 200 people, respectively. We stimulate workers and members of their families with tours around Kazakhstan, to the United Arab Emirates and Turkey. We are trying to provide sponsorship to war veterans, labour veterans and orphans,” said Shauyenova, a member of the National Chamber of Entrepreneurs’ Council of Businesswomen and President of the Kazakh Light Industry Product Manufacturers Union.

Astana Utaria is a 100-percent local production company with an annual turnover of more than five billion tenge (US$12.8 million). The company has several industries, including a large, modern factory built in the capital under the Business Road Map 2020 state programme, with branches in Almaty, Karaganda and Zhezkazgan, and two Industrialisation Map projects. 

Shauyenova began by making and selling souvenir products and national symbols in Zhezkazgan while working at a governmental office.

“It was in the late 1990s, when one of the Kazakhstanskaya Pravda newspaper issues published a speech by Nursultan Nazarbayev with an address to develop small and medium-sized businesses. Nazarbayev then emphasised ‘Do not be afraid, open your own business, create jobs, we will help …’ I took these words as a personal address. In general, they became the starting point for further actions. An understanding had come that I wanted and could do more, and benefit not only myself,” she said.

Photo credit: inform.kz.

“More” meant construction services and supplying raw materials, fabrics and accessories for city-forming enterprises such as Kazakhmys Corporation. Astana Utaria presented an innovative project, a metallurgist suit made of aluminised fabric, at the first metallurgical industry forum in the capital’s Korme Exhibition Centre in 2010. 

“And we, the metallurgists [of the past] had ordinary cloth,” said Nazarbayev when he saw the suit.

The high praise from the first president helped the enterprise receive funds from Business Road Map 2020 curated by the Damu Fund. It allowed Shauyenova to start construction on a factory in Zhezkazgan, which became the second city-forming enterprise in the region. The funding allowed her company to sprout from a small to a medium-sized business. The number of employees grew from 20 to 500 and the range of services expanded to sewing, dry cleaning, washing, storage, logistics and automated stock tracking.

The factory’s production area now is more than 10,000 square metres, with a capacity of approximately two million products per year. The main clothing, corporate work wear and personal protective equipment consumers include Kamkor Management LLP, Kazakhaltyn (a mining and metallurgical concern), Kazakhmys Corporation and the ministries of defence and internal affairs.

In 2013, the company implemented a major investment project, building the KazTexExpo automated production complex in the Astana-New City social economic zone. The facility assembles and delivers automated equipment under the well-known international brand ZOJE, supplying the global market with more than 40 percent of sewing and specialised equipment for light industry enterprises.

Shauyenova was one of the first businesspersons to create retraining centres to teach industrial college students the second specialties of assembling and adjusting ZOJE sewing equipment. The company cooperated with the employment centre and concluded a memorandum of cooperation with Kazakh University of Technology and Business, opening a branch of its Light Industry Technology and Design Department on the Astana Utaria grounds.