AIFC Tech Hub, Visa and Halyk Bank launch Business Leadership marathon to support women entrepreneurs in Central Asia

Astana. KAZINFORM The education marathon starts as part of the second wave of the global initiative She’s Next Empowered by Visa.

Three marathon winners will receive grants to develop their businesses, according to the AIFC’s official website.

The Business Leadership Marathon starts in Kazakhstan and Central Asia to support women entrepreneurs in the region. The marathon is run by the Astana International Financial Centre’s tech hub, Visa – the world leader in digital payments and Halyk Bank online bank – a mobile business application for the largest bank in Kazakhstan. The aim of the marathon is to support women who are planning to start a business or are already building an existing business. In addition, the program in Kazakhstan was supported by the Fund for Sustainable Development and Support of Women’s Entrepreneurship (Council of Businesswomen “Atameken”), the Center for Development of Women’s Entrepreneurship at the National Chamber of Entrepreneurs of the Republic of Kazakhstan “Atameken”. , the UN Women in Kazakhstan, the Center for Entrepreneurship «Qolday», the non-profit organization «TechnoWomen», the Entrepreneurship Development Fund «Damu».

The proportion of women in the ownership structure of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in Kazakhstan is 43%[1] and continues to grow year after year. However, when starting a business, entrepreneurs often face various challenges. According to a 2021 Visa study on Kazakhstan, 42% of respondents said it was difficult to balance their business and domestic responsibilities, and 61% had difficulty raising capital to start their business[2].

As part of the global initiative She’s Next Empowered by Visa, AIFC Tech Hub, Visa and Halyk Bank are launching an educational marathon to help entrepreneurs overcome existing obstacles and challenges. The first phase of the initiative, which took place in 2021, involved more than 2,500 entrepreneurs from five countries in the region.

The motto of the marathon is “Business success is balance!”. Today, modern women have time not only to take care of the tasks of developing their business, but also to take care of their families, children and parents. Therefore, the consequence when building a company is not to forget the balance between business and private life. The participants of the marathon can attend 8 educational lectures on effective business management and creating a harmonious everyday life: introducing exercise into the schedule, proper nutrition and more. The speakers at the marathon will be recognized leaders from business and other fields. This year, participants also have the opportunity to receive grants to develop their businesses.

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“We are excited to partner with Visa and Halyk Bank as supporting women entrepreneurs underscores their integral role in business development. We hope that the program will help women realize their potential and provide the resources and inspiration to start or further grow their business”, – noted Kairat Kaliev, Chairman of the Board of Astana International Financial Center Tech Hub.

“Visa supports and launches numerous initiatives to help micro, small and medium-sized businesses, including those run by women, to grow and get online. We run the Business Leadership Marathon with our partner Halyk Bank and expect to unite even more women in the region focused on developing the business. Our goal is to provide entrepreneurs in the region with access to new knowledge for business and personal development, and business development grants will support marathon winners to take the next important step in the development of their business,” said Kristina Dorosh, Vice President, Regional Manager of Visa in Central Asia and Azerbaijan.

“Halyk Bank has been supporting women entrepreneurs for many years, including through preferential financing programs. Today we see that in several industries such as food processing, retail, education and medicine, the number of women entrepreneurs is comparable to or even exceeds the number of entrepreneurs, and this trend is gaining momentum. Today, 55% of the loan portfolio of female entrepreneurs in our bank. We are confident that the joint project with our strategic partner Visa will be a good incentive for the further growth of women’s entrepreneurship and we are happy to support such a large-scale initiative that will cover all markets of Central Asia,” commented the launch of the marathon Umut Shayakhmetova, CEO of Halyk Bank.

How do I get to the marathon?

On September 15, 2022, the international announcement for participation in the marathon will take place. To participate, you need to register on the program website, after which you will receive confirmation and training, which necessarily includes tests using a chatbot with a rating system. Participation in the marathon is open to adult, economically interested or committed women from all over Central Asia by example.

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What do participants get?

In addition to insights from companies and other experts, participants can apply for business development grants. To qualify for the marathon finals and become a scholarship candidate, participants must answer all tasks in the chatbot. The task list also includes writing a mini-essay about your own company. Someone automatically awards points to tests in the chatbot for correct answers while the marathon judges evaluate the essay. The 15 finalists with the highest scores will be shortlisted for the marathon.

Also, among the finalists, three winners will be selected by open vote, who will receive 5, 3, and 1 million tenge respectively for developing their business in the first, second, and third places.

As part of the launch of the Business Leadership Marathon, Halyk Bank also announced the continuation of its program to support women’s entrepreneurship and announced the allocation of 1 billion tenge from its funds to entrepreneurship concessionary financing. This amount will already be the 6 billion tenge made available by the bank under its program, where entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to receive up to 20 million tenge per borrower at 5%. It should be noted that when the bank grants a preferential loan, the participants in the education marathon are given priority.

Under the Halyk Bank Concessional Funding, three marathon winners are allowed to increase the business development credit volume to 50, 40 and 30 million tenge for first, second and third place*.

All other participants in the marathon will have the option of a discounted bank loan of up to 20 million tenge*.

In addition, as part of the partnership, all participants in the educational marathon will open accounts at Halyk Bank free of charge.

*Participants not only from Kazakhstan, but also from Central Asia, including Halyk Bank’s subsidiary banks in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, can get a loan.

*Participation in the marathon does not oblige participants to take out a loan from a bank, participants use this option at their own discretion.

*Approval of the application and confirmation of preferential financing by the bank is carried out individually. If the borrower’s application does not meet the bank’s internal requirements for lending, the bank reserves the right not to approve the preferential financing.

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Reference information:

The Astana International Financial Center (AIFC) is an independent jurisdiction that became operational in 2018. According to the development strategy until 2025, the main focus of the AIFC is to be consolidated as a universal platform connecting the countries of the EAEU, Central Asia and the Caucasus.

AIFC Tech Hub is a subdivision of Astana International Financial Center (AIFC) whose mission is to facilitate the development of startup ecosystem, venture industry market, e-commerce, business innovation and new technological fields in Kazakhstan (FinTech , GovTech , SatelliteTech, Industry 4.0 etc.). Together with international partners, The AIFC Tech Hub runs programs to support market participants and facilitate the structuring of venture deals and testing of new fintech solutions within the regulatory sandbox of the AIFC jurisdiction.

Visa Inc. (NYSE:V) is a global leader in digital payments. Mission Visa Inc. – to connect the world through the most innovative, reliable and secure payment network that empowers consumers, businesses and the economy at large to systematically thrive. The latest global technological network VisaNet provides reliable and secure payments around the world and is capable of processing more than 65,000 transactions per second. Visa’s focus on innovation is the catalyst for the rapid growth of connected commerce, where virtually any connected device can make payments, fueling the transition to a cashless future for everyone, everywhere. As the transition from analog to digital takes place, Visa leverages its brand, products, experts, network and scale to transform commerce. For more information, see , .

Halyk Bank is the largest bank in Kazakhstan. With assets of 13,735.6 billion tenge as of June 30, 2022, the bank is the country’s leading lending institution. The bank has the largest customer base and branch network – 577 branches across the country and also operates in Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Uzbekistan.

Halyk Bank actively supports women’s entrepreneurship: for the fifth year, the bank has been implementing its program, thanks to which around 500 women entrepreneurs have received preferential loans totaling 5 billion tenge.


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