Story: Coaching small businesses in Kazakhstan through the growing pains of exporting

23 September 2021
ITC News

As small companies set out to grow their business, they look to expand their consumer base by exporting to other countries, but often lack the knowledge and tools to do so.

This is the situation Toktalyk Ziekenov found himself in. Managing his enterprise Billion Filters, the first polypropylene filter plant in Kazakhstan, is not an easy job. Ziekenov needed advice on export management so he could navigate every aspect of his business, from customs to compliance with standards.

The International Trade Centre Ready4Trade Central Asia project stepped in to close this gap.

“Our coach gave us hands-on training on packaging, labelling and certification,” explains Ziekenov, who participated in the project’s Export Management Coaching Initiative. “In addition, we were able to optimize our filter production and reduce the number of defects to zero. In just five days, the project helped me save years of frustration, time and costs.”

Small businesses participating in this initiative receive training from coaches with extensive experience in each stage of production and distribution. For each session, coaches visit the premises of each company and deliver detailed, tailored instructions and recommendations over five days. At the end, each company receives an export compliance checklist to follow, useful export planning tools to put to practice, and a final assessment of their export practices.

More than half of the 40 Kazakh participating businesses have so far completed their training in the past five months, successfully meeting Ready4Trade’s mid-term benchmarks for the initiative.

On 2 September 2021, the International Trade Centre hosted a hybrid event to commemorate the occasion together with the EU Delegation to the Republic of Kazakhstan and its national partners, the Ministry of Trade and Integration and the Center for the Development of Trade Policy, QazTrade.

The event brought together high-level representatives, coaches, participants, representatives of international organizations and Kazakhstani businesses, who shared their experiences.

“The coaching was possible thanks to the enterprises using the International Trade Centre tools, such as Trade Map, Market Analysis Tools Portal, or Market Access Map,” explained coach Ainur Tleuova at the event. “By implementing our recommendations for certification, logistics, packaging or labelling, companies gain confidence and are ready to conquer new export horizons.”

Bauyrzhan Bolganisov, Deputy Director of Kazakhstan’s Export Promotion Department and representative of the Ministry of Trade and Integration expressed confidence in the Export Management Coaching Initiative and its contribution to improving trade relations and stimulating economic growth for the country: “It creates new opportunities for entrepreneurship and the development of our society not only in Kazakhstan, but throughout the Central Asian region,” he said.

Ready4Trade Central Asia’s Export Management Coaching Initiative is funded by the European Union and implemented by the International Trade Centre.