Business Forum: Women’s Leadership Drives Kazakhstan’s Economy

ASTANA – The creative principle of women’s leadership has been transforming various aspects of the economic and everyday life of Kazakhstan for many years, Ayala Charitable Foundation President Aidan Suleimenova said at the annual Women in Business forum on Feb. 20 in Almaty, reported the forum’s press service.

Women in Business forum in Almaty on Feb. 20, 2024. Photo credit: almaty.women/Instagram

Over 300 women entrepreneurs, public figures, heads of development institutions, large companies, and banks participated in the forum, organized by the Council of Businesswomen of Almaty, Halyk Bank, and Mastercard.

Michelle Yerkin, the Consul General of the United States in Almaty, highlighted the role of women in societal prosperity and economic development, expressing an intention to collaborate with Kazakhstan to enhance economic competitiveness by creating decently paid and high-quality jobs for women.

Women in Business forum in Almaty on Feb. 20, 2024. Photo credit: almaty.women/Instagram

Gaukhar Buribayeva, the Damu Entrepreneurship Development Fund chairwoman, said that 47% of the fund’s supported projects account for women entrepreneurs. Over its entire activity period, the fund has backed 96,000 women-led entrepreneurship projects worth 2.8 billion tenge ($6.3 million).

Alexandra Akkirman, senior director of public affairs, communications and sustainability at Coca-Cola Caucasus and Central Asia, spoke about a long-standing project promoting women’s business in rural areas of Kazakhstan.

The project, now in its 12th year, contributed to introducing preferential rates on loans for rural entrepreneurs by the Agriculture Ministry.

“Over 11 years, more than 75,000 women have received free business training. According to the organizers, over 3,000 small businesses with 5,000 jobs have been created since the pandemic alone,” Akkirman said.

Halyk Bank CEO Umut Shayakhmetova emphasized expectations for declining interest rates in 2024, envisioning a conducive environment for continued lending growth despite prevailing economic challenges.

Thanks to affordable conditions offered by Halyk Bank since 2018, hundreds of entrepreneurs nationwide have received preferential loans at 5% per annum and started their businesses.

Statistics show that businesswomen lead 43% of enterprises in Kazakhstan. Women’s entrepreneurship provides a third of the total number of jobs in the small and medium-sized business sector and about 15% of Kazakhstan’s GDP.

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