The Kazakhstan Digital Accelerator Demo Day, November 3, 2020, was the first time an economic corridor for startups and innovation was created between Southeast Asia and Central Asia.
We are honored to have a book. Anual Omarkojaev, Honorary Consul of Kazakhstan in Singapore and Vice Chairman of Baiterek State Management Holding, shares the opportunity he sees between the two fast-growing regions.
By Anuar Omarkhojayev
Despite the Kazakhstan Digital Accelerator (KDA) demo day being held online for the pandemic, the air was crackling with excitement on November 3rd. While Kazakhstan’s startup presenters and 150 investors and partners, many of whom are from Southeast Asia, were thousands of miles apart, true innovation is crossing the boundaries.
Some of the ideas put on the table: Cerebra, an automated self-learning artificial intelligence (AI) service for diagnosing stroke. Retail Analytica, an AI retail system that evaluates customer interactions. Egistic is a smart farm management system that monitors and manages the area of crops.
They are one of the first batches of 10 cutting-edge start-ups, each receiving $ 50,000 in seed funding, and industry veterans will lead them under KDA. KDA is an international collaboration between QazTech Ventures, a venture capital firm of Baiterek Holdings, a sovereign wealth fund in Kazakhstan, and Quest Ventures, a top-ranked Singapore-based VC company.
This is the first time an economic corridor has been created for start-ups and innovation between Southeast Asia and the fast-growing regions of Central Asia. This is a good model of how countries can support the upcoming Kazakhstan startup scene and enable Southeast Asian investors to discover Kazakhstan’s potential and great ideas.
It’s just the beginning
Most accelerators simply provide educational services and mentorship sessions. However, Baiterek was able to work with its strategic partner, Quest Ventures, to provide Kazakh companies with international investment and market access, and to learn from the best companies in Southeast Asia. Through KDA, startup founders were able to interact with dozens of industry veterans and founders. There was also a 40-hour master class and fireside chats with experts and experienced entrepreneurs. 13 weeks of tutoring from the Quest Ventures team. You also have access to Quest Ventures’ vast network ecosystem and the benefits of our partners.
On the Baiterek side, we have confirmed that start-ups specializing in areas such as edtech, agrotech, healthtech and retail have the best means for global success. For example, this meant building all transactions within the common law framework under the Astana International Financial Center (AIFC), where all KDA companies are registered.
The results are promising. In the months since these start-ups were selected under KDA, we’ve seen them bloom. We hope that they will share their experiences and contribute to the startup scene.
High-tech scene full of promises
KDA and its participants are just the epitome of Kazakhstan’s fast-growing entrepreneurial spirit. Driven by AIFC, the country is becoming a fintech hub for start-ups. Some of these up-and-coming companies have already won awards at international competitions.
Other more established Kazakh companies are making waves internationally. Kaspi.kz, the fintech company that operates the country’s largest e-commerce platform, was listed on the London Stock Exchange on October 15, with an overall valuation of US $ 6.5 billion and holding the most valuable listed stock in Kazakhstan. Became a company to do.
There is a lot to build. According to StartupGenome, a global innovation policy advisory and research firm, Nur-Sultan ranks high in the fast-growing startup ecosystem in developing countries and is the fifth overall affordable talent.
Baiterek provides the support needed by start-ups. QazTech Ventures, a subsidiary of Holdings, plays a leading role in providing institutional investment to the market. A recent example is a $ 10 million commitment to Quest Venture Fund II, which was launched in collaboration with Pavilion Capital for a total of $ 50 million.
Build a bridge
It not only develops and harnesses Kazakhstan’s talents, but also provides an important gateway to the wider Eurasian and Central Asian markets of distant countries such as Singapore.
We also learn a lot from Singapore, the center of innovation, innovation and investment in Southeast Asia’s new technologies. Therefore, I am very interested in bringing Singapore’s capital and companies to Kazakhstan and facilitating the process of introducing national best practices not only in the private sphere but also in the public sphere.
Here I would like to focus on another area where Baiterek has made significant progress with the support of Singapore. We are talking about introducing an affordable housing system in Kazakhstan, modeled after Singapore’s Housing and Development Board (HDB) apartments. Over the last eight years, more and more people are waiting for public housing in Kazakhstan, but per capita housing availability is still below international standards (22 square meters in Kazakhstan and 30 square meters by UN standards).
When I first met HDB in April 2018, I was impressed with the integrated approach of the statutory board that created a self-sufficient township. We quickly worked with Singapore partners to create a roadmap outlining a major transformation. This launched a nationwide housing business like HDB under Baiterek. Our initiative receives extensive support from the best political leaders in Kazakhstan.
The creation of a national housing business that runs and controls the entire cycle of affordable housing development, from design and construction to test run facilities, is the starting point for introducing best practices from Singapore in this area. The entity is tasked with introducing a radically different approach to planning and construction methods that guarantees high quality homes offered through e-service platforms like HDB.
It is encouraging to see the relationship between Kazakhstan and Singapore expanding. We sincerely hope that affordable housing and start-ups are just the beginning of a larger and brighter relationship between the two countries that will serve as a bridge for greater bilateral economic cooperation.
The author is the Honorary Consul of Singapore in Kazakhstan and Vice Chairman of Baiterek National Management Holding.
Strong business network boosts partnership between Kazakhstan and Singapore
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