The technical partner of the campaign for the second year in a row is the Tech Hub of the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC). The implementation of the Tech Hub project is one of the examples of the AIFC's policy on supporting gender equality, as well as the empowerment of women in Central Asia.
This year the marathon "Business Leadership" was also supported by Halyk Bank with the Onlinebank by Halyk, the Fund and the Center for Sustainable Development and Support of Women's Entrepreneurship (at the NCE RK "Atameken"), the UN Women in Kazakhstan, the Center for Entrepreneurship "Qolday", non-profit organization "TechnoWomen", Entrepreneurship Development Fund "Damu", USAID, and associations of businesswomen and the business communities of participating countries.
In total, about 6,800 female entrepreneurs from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan registered for the educational program. During the marathon, the participants received educational lectures from top experts on effective business management, time management, and work-life balance.
At the end of the training, the participants completed tests and shared essays about their business activities. Fifteen businesswomen made it to the final of the marathon - three finalists were chosen by public vote.
The winner of the marathon, who received 30% of the votes and a grant of 5 million tenge to develop her business, was Kadyrzhan Toleu. For 2 years Toleu has been running her own catering service and strives to develop a network of food trucks to popularize Balkhash fish and the formation of tourist gastronomic culture.
The second place was taken by Ybyrayeva Yerkezhan with the environmental project E-cycle, aimed at improving the ecological condition of Astana. Yerkezhan and her project were voted by 963 people or 11% of all voters.
The third place was taken by Alimbetova Alida, whose business relates to printing – “Akkalam”. Alida dreams to produce printing products with images of national heroes and inculcate children’s love for Kazakh culture through visual perception.
“We are happy to support the She's Next global campaign of our partners Visa, thanks to which the winners from Kazakhstan and Central Asia received support in developing their own businesses and were inspired to reach new heights. The level of participants is impressive, which means that the educational marathon was able to unlock the innovative potential of female entrepreneurs,” said Kairat Kaliyev – Chairman of the AIFC Tech Hub Board of Directors.
“The She's Next initiative has already helped tens of thousands of girls around the world start or develop their own businesses. Today we are glad to see the growing involvement of women in the economies of Central Asia and their interest in acquiring new knowledge and developing entrepreneurship. For the first time in our region, which includes 17 countries, the initiative has been implemented jointly with Halyk Bank - it helped to unite more women and give them an opportunity to receive additional loans on favorable terms and open special business cards. I am confident that the marathon inspired and motivated the participants to new achievements,” said Cristina Doros, Vice President, Regional Manager of Central Asia, and Azerbaijan at Visa.
In addition to the awarding ceremony for the winners, the guests of the event took part in a public talk on the topic “Women’s entrepreneurship: what role does balance play in the entrepreneur's success and how to achieve it?” where successful entrepreneurs shared their experiences and recommendations.