Year: 2018

Director of Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation: “In 2018 we have set a new course for multiple projectivity”

Many people used to associate the Foundation’s activities with the medical sector because of the large-scale principal project “Autism. One world for all” and the Burabike festival. But recently some important public initiatives were announced in other fields as well: reconstruction of public space, support of cultural projects, humanitarian aid and assistance to socially vulnerable young people.

Reconstruction of the Botanical Garden

In 2018 Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation allocated about 15 million dollars for the project of infrastructure renovation of the Central Botanical Garden in Almaty. Major works will be completed by the end of 2019. Employees of the Institute of Botany and Phytointroduction asked for assistance. Lack of financing led to the plant irrigation system becoming unserviceable, the infrastructure turning obsolete, the garden’s green resources decreasing, scope for scientific research and performance of the educational function diminishing considerably.
Pictured: Schematic design of the Central Botanical Garden of Almaty
A lot was done within a year: a press tour of the garden and public discussions of the proposed concept of reconstruction were held, feedback from city inhabitants and activists was received, a schematic design, whereby works will start as soon as in spring 2019, was presented and agreed.  
“Our main principle in this project is “to do no harm”. Footpaths, water reservoirs, plants will stay where they are. We will create an environment for preservation of the botanical garden’s uniqueness and will make it more modern-day,” says Yelizaveta Dyomina, the Foundation’s Communications Manager. – “We are doing everything in the most transparent and open way, take decisions together with the city inhabitants, activists and international experts”. “The Botanical Garden is a scientific organisation and a specially protected natural territory. That is why the garden will have a special lighting system – bottom-up, a special watering system – via aryks (irrigation ditches), all footpaths will be made of natural materials – gravel, and parterres at the entrances will be made of glass so that they wouldn’t block the view. The garden will become accessible for low mobility people, and the cognitive function will be delivered via a mobile application,” says Foundation Director Marat Aitmagambetov.
Pictured: Glass parterre

Assistance in preservation of cultural heritage

Cooperation with the Batyrkhan Shukenov Foundation became another long-term project of the outgoing year. Its purpose is to preserve the heritage of the famed artist, to support young talented Kazakhstani musicians. For the first year of this cooperation Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation supported four initiatives:
  1. Award of five scholarships of 500,000 tenge each to talented students of the Chair of Wind and Percussion Instruments, National Conservatoire;
  2. Preparation and publication of the printed music collection of Batyr’s Kazakh songs;
  3. Organisation of the Republican Contest for Wood-Winders named after Batyrkhan Shukenov, with a prize fund of 5,250,000 tenge;
  4. Preparation of a gift CD and DVD edition featuring the entire solo legacy of Batyr. This project is being implemented jointly with Artemiy Lebedev’s studio and will be announced in 2019.  
To effect these four initiatives, 70 mln tenge were allocated in the outgoing year. Cooperation will continue in 2019, the Foundation will allocate some more 51 mln tenge, ensuring scholarships will be granted not to five but to ten talented students, and the Republican Contest will cover not only wood-wind instruments but brass ones too.
Pictured: Baurzhan Shukenov presents the “Sagym Duniye” printed music edition
“All that we are striving for in this cooperation is to bring up a new progressive generation of Kazakhstanis with whom you want to live in one country, and to form an adequate cultural environment here. For this, I have returned from Moscow. The same was done by uncle Batyr and my father at their time. It is great that here our vision and the Foundation’s vision tie together. Both they and us are disposed to the long-term cooperation – for 5, for 10 years ahead,” says Nargiz Shukenova, Director of the Batyrkhan Shukenov Foundation.

Distribution of bank cards among river flood sufferers

River floods at the beginning of spring 2018 caused most damage to the East Kazakhstan Oblast. Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation, in cooperation with the Red Crescent Society of Kazakhstan and Fortebank, managed to render targeted assistance to 863 families in 20 localities. The Red Crescent staff gave people 82 mln tenge using an innovation method – bank cards.
“We thought this method of rendering humanitarian aid would be more targeted. Some need medicines, some – warm clothes, and some – food. In line with our project, representatives of the Red Crescent Society give Fortebank cards to every family and we transfer aid in the amount 30,000 tenge per person. Every family can use this money to buy whatever exactly they need,” says Marat Aitmagambetov.

WeArt centre for creative education of youth

The high level of youth unemployment is a pressing issue in Kazakhstan. According to data of the Committee on Statistics under the RoK Ministry of National Economy, there are more unemployed young people in Almaty rather than in other regions – 19.3% of the total figure nationwide.  In 2018 Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation took part in setting up the WeArt project – centre of creative education of young people from orphanages, low-income and multi-child families. Besides the Foundation, the project was supported by the Narxoz University and the DAR Ecosystem tech company. The grant amount comprised 21 mln tenge. This money was used to buy equipment, to renovate premises and to hire qualified teachers. In 2018 youngsters were taught free of charge in modern technologies of video editing and internet marketing. Teachers included, for example, graduates of the New York Film Academy. In 2019 the WeArt organisers plan to add culinary and design courses and to begin admitting for training people with special needs.
“It is important that right from the beginning WeArt has been selecting those professions where they can slot their graduates into jobs,” says Yelizaveta Dyomina.

Support of children with ASD

In 2018 the Foundation also did not overlook projects aimed at the health care of Kazakhstanis. The major project of the Foundation remained the “Autism. One world for all” project, thanks to which they managed to set up a network of Assyl Miras autism centres in six cities of Kazakhstan. Centres in Uralsk and Aktobe were opened in 2018 in partnership with local akimats (city administrations). The purpose of this programme is to introduce in Kazakhstan the most modern but at the same time scientifically proved international methodologies of assistance in adaptation of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The founder, Bulat Utemuratov, has allocated 12.5 mln dollars for these purposes. The centres render assistance free of charge, giving great attention to training of parents of children with ASD. The centres currently employ over 100 professionals who were trained by the best foreign specialists. The staff of the centres have already diagnosed about 5,000 children, 2,471 out of them – in 2018. To better inform the medical community, parents of children with ASD, public officials and non-commercial organisations, Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation organised, for the third time now, the annual international conference “Autism. The world of opportunities”, where speakers were experts from the USA, the SAR and Russia. The conference was attended by 350 people.

Popularisation of philanthropy through mass sports

For the sixth time now, the Foundation traditionally held the Burabike festival of charity, music and sports jointly with the Rixos Borovoe Hotel. In 2018, a record 205 million tenge was collected, the money was spent to purchase vital medical equipment for children’s medical institutions, the handover of equipment will take place in early 2019.

Support of children with the ICP diagnosis

In 2018 the Foundation allocated 330 mln tenge to help the Association of Parents of Disabled Children (ARDI) and Public Foundation DOM (Mercy Volunteer Society) to open a Rehabilitation Centre for children with the ICP diagnosis. The approach to this project is much alike the “Autism. One world for all” programme, the Foundation plans to introduce the most modern and scientifically proved methodologies of rehabilitation in Kazakhstan, to disseminate and promote knowledge among parents, medical community and public organisations. The project also provides for an element of training for specialists to adapt the gained knowledge in Kazakhstan. Six staff members of this centre have already been trained in South Korea and listened to a course run by an expert from the USA.

“It was an instant understanding of the importance of our work”: the Shukenovs about their cooperation with Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation

The Batyrkhan Shukenov Foundation was set up in 2015, after the tragic death of the renowned Kazakhstani. And three years later the foundation got a new manager – Shukenov’s niece Nargiz took over the management of the foundation, and the musician’s brother, Baurzhan Shukenov, chaired the board of trustees. New ambitious goals were set then – now the foundation supports young Kazakhstani talents, like Batyr himself once was, preserves and reinterprets the musician’s heritage. And Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation helps them in doing so.
Baurzhan and Nargiz Shukenov
“It was Bulat Zhamitovich who called me to talk, he asked what we thought about commemoration work. I shared with him my plans which are now being implemented under the patronage of Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation. It was an instant understanding of the importance of our work – Batyr’s name always knitted together a great circle of musicians and cultural luminaries. It is still serving and moving the processes related to culture and its perception in Kazakhstan,” says Baurzhan Shukenov.

Five scholarships

The first project implemented by the Batyrkhan Shukenov Foundation jointly with Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation was establishment of five scholarships for students of the Chair of Wind and Percussion Instruments, Kurmangazy Kazakh National Conservatoire. Every laureate received 500,000 tenge. The winners were selected by video applications. The jury of independent experts, conservatoire teachers, representatives of the Batyrkhan Shukenov Foundation and Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation were assessing not just performance skills and artistry of candidates but also their motivation, to understand their vision of a creative career, to reveal the most talented and ambitious of them.
“When a musician reaches a certain level, he has to show himself off – as a performer or in international contests. To be prepared for this, one needs a good instrument, a programme and training – this requires investment. Thanks to good relations with the conservatoire teachers we are able to keep the track of achievements made by the scholars, and I think that, with the support rendered by Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation, we will have an opportunity to help them in their future careers if they show their worth and set high goals,” says the Chair of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees.
This year the scholarship was awarded only to the students of the Kurmangazy Conservatoire, in 2019 the Foundation is going to expand and to divide the contest into several levels – higher educational institutions, vocational schools and specialised secondary musical schools – and to nominate laureates in each category, to render support to all participants of the music scene.  

Printed music collection of 14 songs by Batyr – “Sagym Duniye”

On 26 October the Foundation announced another important project – publication of the “Sagym Duniye” collection, notes edition of songs by Batyrkhan Shukenov set to music of Kazakhstani composers. It included 14 songs by Batyrkhan Shukenov in the Kazakh language. Notes are tailored for amateur musicians, musical school students. The publishers want “Sagym Duniye” to bring the Kazakh academic music to every home, to make it more accessible and popular. They have already sent the collections out to all Kazakhstani musical schools. One can buy notes from the “Meloman” network in all cities of Kazakhstan and online.
“Many pieces of music were lack of scores, therefore we had to not only buy out copyrights and publishing rights but also to pay for creation of orchestrations and piano reductions. Great job was done by Adilzhan Tolukpayev who adapted compositions and put them to notes. The entire work was financed by Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation via our Foundation, and any proceeds from sales come directly to Batyr’s heirs,” says Nargiz Shukenova.
Pictured: Nargiz Shukenova with the “Sagym Duniye” printed music collection.

1st Republican Batyrkhan Shukenov Contest

As long as back in May the Batyrkhan Shukenov Foundationb and Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation agreed to hold the 1st Republican Contest for wood-winders named after Batyrkhan Shukenov – talented solo saxophonist – from 26 to 30 November. The contest was preceded by intensive preparation, as participants had to prepare a serious concert programme, including performance with an orchestra. The first round was held online, and the second and the third rounds were held in the concert hall of the Kurmangazy Conservatoire in Almaty where the relevant public attended: students of the Conservatoire, their parents, music community members and journalists. The event was attended by Batyr’s mom – Dilara Ibragimovna Shukenova, and Yakov Matveyevich Tkachenko – renowned Kazakhstani saxophonist and Batyr’s first teacher.
Yakov Matveyevich Tkachenko
The winners were selected in five categories: flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and alto saxophone, among 28 participants who made it through to the second round of the competition – students and professional musicians. Competitors had to show themselves off in the solo performance, in duet, trio, quartet quintet and ensemble performance accompanied by the “Camerata Kazakhstana” orchestra.
“We have many contests for vocalists, for folk instrument performers, piano and violin players – at a high level. To our opinion, winders were a little bit in a shadow. One of the tasks is to use Batyr’s name to draw more attention to the wind instruments, to this contest and to organize it at a high level: to invite a reputable international jury, to define a level, a point of reference for further work,” says Baurzhan Shukenov.
On 30 November, during the festive gala concert, winners became known – all of them are from Almaty and Astana: Khadisha Yelibayeva won in the “Flute” nomination, Almat Zhailaubayev – in the “Oboe” nomination, Tlek Dautkan – in the “Clarinet” nomination, Olzhas Ashirmatov – in the “Bassoon” nomination, and Arukhat Mussaipov – in the “Alto Saxophone” nomination. Contestants were assessed by the recognised international jury: well-known musicians from France, Germany, Russia and Kazakhstan. Among them – Christian Elin (saxophone), Nikolay Popov (flute), Akim Mukhatzhanov, Nicolas Krauze (conductor), Nuraly Tanatar.
The jury and the winner in the “Alto Saxophone” nomination category
In two years the organisers are planning to enter the internal arena, to invite near and far abroad musicians to participate, that will help to expand the repertoire and to give an impetus for improvement to the Kazakhstani musicians. Baurzhan and Nargiz Shukenov note the importance of the fundamental approach attributable to Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation which allows them to nurture long-term plans of the Foundation’s activities.
“We have already approved the 2019 programme. Big job is planned for the contest next year – it was decided to hold the contest for brass winders and percussionists.”
In 2019 the Batyrkhan Shukenov Foundation plans to produce a collection of audio and video editions. All solo legacy of the musician will be recorded on discs: two solo concerts and several editions found after his death. Many of them are now unavailable on information carriers, they are not on the Internet. This extensive and important work on preserving the heritage of the eminent culture figure of Kazakhstan carried out by the Batyrkhan Shukenov Foundation management will also be supported by Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation. One will be able to buy collections in the “Meloman” network of shops where Batyr’s albums were sold when he was alive.

Burabike: How Bulat Utemuratov bridges sports and charity

It is for the sixth running year that the Foundation of Kazakhstani businessman and philanthropist Bulat Utemuratov has been purchasing equipment for children’s medical institutions for the money donated by participants and sponsors of the major charity bike ride in the country – Burabike. Let’s see how it all started and what results have been achieved in six years.    

Shuchinsk-Borovoe resort zone

Traditionally Burabike is held in the Shuchinsk-Borovoe resort zone. Participants ride 30 kilometres across the Kokshetau Upland at the altitude of almost 500m and over the isthmus dividing Lakes Burabay and Bolshoe Chebachye. People call this place “Kazakhstani Switzerland”. In 1938 the Borovoe resort zone was recognized the second most beautiful among the USSR resorts at the New York International Exhibition. Philanthropist Bulat Utemuratov has a special bond with Borovoe. During his work at the President’s Administration, he was making active efforts for the development of the Shuchinsk-Borovoe resort zone, reconstruction of the Khan Ablay’s meadow, was creating the infrastructure of tourist centres, a nursery garden for the Burabay National Park and a Siberian red deer breeding farm. Thanks to Bulat Utemuratov, as long ago as 2012 the first five-star hotel Rixos Borovoe was opened in the Shuchinsk-Borovoe resort zone, and in 2013 the first mass sports event Burabike came up which was designed to attract attention to this tourist destination and to bear an important charity function. The bike ride was organised by Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation and Rixos Borovoe.

Burabike participants

For the six years, participants of the charity bike ride in Burabay included celebrities of various levels: politicians, sportsmen, prominent businessmen, public figures, but most importantly – caring and sportive people of Kazakhstan. The number of participants has increased eight times in these six years: if in 2013 there were 130 cyclists who covered the route, then in August 2018 as many as 2,300 people registered for the event, among them 841 – for the distance of 30 kilometres. The organisers even had to close the registration ahead the schedule because they registered the maximum possible number of participants.     In 2018, the event initiator, Bulat Utemuratov, took the ride to support the charity initiative. He was accompanied by Minister of Culture and Sports Arystanbek Mukhamediuly, Chairman of the Central Election Committee Berik Imashev, First Vice President of the Kazakhstan Cycling Federation – businessman Rayimbek Batalov, New Zealand Honorary Consul in Kazakhstan – entrepreneur Nurlan Smagulov, and Chairman of the Board of the Development Bank of Kazakhstan (DBK) Bolat Zhamishev. The bike ride of 2018 was led by Alexey Lutsenko, the three-time champion of the Summer Asian Games in road cycling and the Astana Pro Team member. Lutsenko raced side by side with his fellow compatriot Alexander Vinokurov, the most renowned Kazakhstani bicycle racer who never misses the chance to take part in Burabike. “When they announced that I would come to Borovoe I have immediately agreed, though I have to be in Canada in a week for a race. So I am even taking a bit of the risk now, but I am very glad to be invited. It is a motivation support for me today, for the last half of the season”, – commented on his participation Alexey Lutsenko. Burabike is supported not only by Lutsenko and Vinokurov but also by the entire Astana Pro Team. In previous years the bike ride participants included Daniyar Yeleusinov, Ilya Ilyin, Serik Sapiyev, Comedy Club stars Marina Kravets and the Chekhov’s Duet. In addition to the Astana Pro Team, Bulat Utemuratov’s initiative was supported by: Akmola Oblast Akimat, Kazakhstan Tennis Federation, Verny Capital group, companies Kazzinc, Beeline Kazakhstan, Altyntau Resources, Astana Property Management, BI Group, Vinci, Turner, Deloitte, Eurasian Group, banks Kassa Nova, Forte Bank, Temir Bank, Alliance Bank. In 2017, Arystanbek Mukhamediuly noted that the charity bike ride promoted development and popularisation of cycling sports in Kazakhstan and formation of sensitivity to children who needed medical treatment.  

What charity effectiveness did Burabike already achieve?

The main purpose of setting up Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation was support and development of childhood. According to information provided by Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation, from 2013 through 2017 participants and sponsors of the Burabike charity ride have donated 471 mln tenge to equip children’s medical institutions, perinatal and rehabilitation centres, as well as orphanages in various regions of Kazakhstan. Contributions in 2018 amounted to over 205 mln tenge and exceeded the 2013 contributions in almost 18 times.

The bike ride organisers raise funds in three ways:

  1. Individual contributions by participants;
  2. Corporate contributions by sponsor companies;
  3. Funds received from the charity auction where the auction items are donated by sports associations and famed sportsmen.
Reports on the funds raised are published and are publicly available on the Foundation’s website. The Foundation has yet to publish the 2018 report, but the Foundation Director said in the course of the event that the bike ride has raised over 60 mln tenge at the expense of corporate contributions only.   

The 2018 auction items included:

  • boxing gloves of Gennady Golovkin with his signature;
  • Astana Pro Team exclusive bicycle;
  • rackets of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Zarina Diyas (Nadal’s racket was sold for 17 mln tenge);
  • T-shirt with Pele’s signature;
  • paintings by children studying at Assyl Miras centres;
  • special edition of “Otan Ana” album by Batyrkhan Shukenov.
For the six years of this charity bike ride, assistance was rendered to 15 children’s institutions in the Akmola and Kzylorda Oblasts. Funds raised in 2018 will allow the Foundation to expand the geography of its beneficiaries and thus the essential equipment will be sent to:
  • Merke Central District Hospital (Zhambyl Oblast)
  • Central District Hospital of Timiryazevo (North Kazakhstan Oblast);
  • Maternity Home in Panfilovo village;
  • Alakol Central District Hospital (Almaty Oblast);
  • Agadyr Rural Hospital (Karaganda Oblast).

A philanthropist or a forward-minded businessman? Why Bulat Utemuratov promotes social responsibility in telecommunications

The Westerners have long taken corporate social responsibility for granted. This is not the same for the Central Asia region which has fairly recently moved to market relations and set up large businesses. We are late here but do not stand still – thanks to people and teams who are ready to propel the wheel of progress. One of such pioneers is Kazakhstani businessman Bulat Utemuratov who, jointly with Veon, owns two telecommunication operators in Central Asia – KarTel in Kazakhstan and Sky Mobile in Kyrgyzstan. Both work under the Beeline business name.  Perhaps, telecommunications are the closest to end customers spheres of business in an era when a gadget became a sort of an arm extension.  Any decision instantly impacts lives of hundreds of thousands, and even millions of people. Therefore, it is important to weigh business interests against social interests of people when decisions are being made. This approach made possible cooperation between Beeline co-owner Bulat Utemuratov and Veon – the seventh largest telecommunication company in the world as for the number of subscribers. The Veon’s cumulative subscriber base is over 240 mln users in Russia, Italy, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Armenia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Algeria, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Search for a balance forces telecommunication giants like Beeline to be in the vanguard of innovation development in the region that is proved by the sixth highest line in the first Rating of Innovative Companies of Kazakhstan for 2017. Its box of merits contains, for example, successful completion of testing the communication standard for the Internet of things, which is a reliable basis for such projects as “Smart Home”, “Smart City” and “Smart Industry”. The first in Kazakhstan and the fifth in the world payment card linked to the subscriber’s balance is in that box too. The card can be used for making purchases, paying for travels and for much more. According to some reports, Beeline transactions already exceed indicators of some banks, and the operator is in the leading position in mobile finance. By the way, the rating also lists innovations in the HR sector. Beeline is one of the first big companies in Kazakhstan which introduced flexible working in line with the “Beefree” project and provided its employees with the required technical capacity. Besides, Beeline both in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan was repeatedly noticed among the winners of the HR-Brand Award held annually by HeadHunter Kazakhstan. In 2017, Sky Mobile has got an award in the “World” nomination for its “Strategy Execution Engine “Journey 2017” project. Engine develops potential of employees through their engagement in project groups under the Agile system. In 2016 Sky Mobile also won in the “World” nomination, but with another project – “Eurasian Digithon” – corporate hackathon for employees of the VEON group of companies in seven countries of the Eurasia region. Innovations in the HR sector of all forward-thinking companies go hand in hand with product innovations. Having transformed from inside, Beeline set a high bar – to become the number one digital company in Kyrgyzstan. This initiative led the management to revise their business philosophy – now the operator does, it seems, strange things: voluntarily changes client tariffs for more beneficial ones, offers its b2b clients the Virtual Automated Telephone Station (ATS) service at the rate several dozens lower than the competitions (70,000 Soms against Beeline’s 1,500 Soms), and opens absolutely free of charge co-working centres for students – one of those was opened in February 2018 at the Iskhak Razzakov Kyrgyz State Technical University. Beeline staff also held there the first master-classes for future professionals, explained how to draw up a good resume and how to get a job with an international company. The team does not worry that all these and many other social activities will decrease profitability, but to the contrary, they are confident that all this will help building long-term relations with retail and corporate clients and will bring the best talents into the company. The company is set to continuing development, but it should be recognised that just for 10 years of its operations Beeline Kyrgyzstan has supplemented the state budget with 321 mln US dollars as taxes and other mandatory payments, and has invested over 265 mln US dollars to development of the economy and the telecommunications sector. Beeline Kazakhstan is also famous for its initiatives for people. Just recall their action “Travel for 1 tenge” held by the company in Almaty, Uralsk and Kyzylorda for the “Everything” tariff plan customers: people could travel by public transport paying just 1 tenge off the balance of their mobile phones. The campaign made public transport a bit more popular among residents of the city of Almaty which suffers from traffic jams and environmental problems and allowed saving on transport costs for schoolchildren, students and pensioners who regularly use it.      In 2012 Beeline, jointly with the Public Foundation «Ulttyk audarma byurosy» became a partner of Google Translate to embed the Kazakh language in the global service. Five year later, the operator helped to improve the service through integration of the Kazakh language in voice translation – the Voice-to-Text technology. Beeline spent 8.5 mln tenge for the «Google+Kazakh» project. From 2014 Beeline has been providing free of charge high-speed internet and equipment to 25 social institutions in various regions of Kazakhstan, where services are rendered to disabled children and adults. Only in 2016-2017 Beeline invested 8,270,500 tenge to this project and received less 125 mln tenge profits. Besides, Beeline actively supports social entrepreneurship and initiative through grants for the best digital startups in the Enactus national competition (4.5 mln tenge in 2018). The Company is actively engaged in charity through rendering financial assistance (4 mln tenge in 2016-2017) to six Republican and a number of regional foundations, and motivates subscribers to do good using the first in Kazakhstan charity service #ЖанАшу. One can arrange the monthly write-off of a certain amount to support the “Mercy Volunteer Society” foundation by sending just one SMS. Over 1,576 customers have subscribed to this service from May to August 2017 only. Beeline believes one should turn the flashlights on oneself, therefore it launched the «Zhyly Zhurek» programme in which the company employees have already rendered assistance to orphanages and low-income families in the amount of 6 mln tenge apart from individual funds and time spent.     These are just some social initiatives of the Beeline company. But even they are an illustrative example that orientation to the needs of the society, customer experience and loyalty of employees promoted by Bulat Utemuratov in his companies is a far-sighted step that works in both directions: for the benefit of business and for the benefit of society.  Beeline’s positions in Kazakhstan, as in Kyrgyzstan, are strengthening year by year. In 2017, the telecommunications market of Kazakhstan grew by 5%, and Beeline – by more than 8%. With the abolition of “mobile slavery”, Beeline Kazakhstan contracted 3 times more clients than it lost. Every month 1,500-2,000 b2b subscribers start using the operator’s services.  

Gold of Vasilkovskoye: How Altyntau Resources company became a gold mining flagship in Kazakhstan

Sharing an important for Kazakhstan history of the Vasilkovskoye Gold Mine enterprise which has transformed into the most effective group of companies in the Kazakhstani gold mining industry thanks to investments made by Bulat Utemuratov.  Out of 105 elements in the Mendeleyev’s table, 99 were found in the interior of the earth in Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan ranks number one as for the proven reserves of zinc, wolfram and barite, running second for the proven reserves of silver, lead and chrome iron ores, and sixth – for the proven reserves of gold. We’ll talk about the latter. In the Soviet era the gold mining outputs in Kazakhstan reached 20 tons a year. During the perestroika period these indicators fell sharply, and were just 6 tons in 1997: the industry was in a state of decline, gold mining enterprises were plagued with stagnation and process backwardness. One of the enterprises which gave an impetus to the industry growth was the Vasilkovsky Mining and Processing Plant (MPP) located 17 km far from the city of Kokshetau. Now the enterprise is one of subsidiaries of Kazzinc, however, the history of its development traces back to 2006 when the project was taken on by the Kazakhstani investment group Verny Capital which manages the funds of businessman Bulat Utemuratov. The Vasilkovsky MPP is a unique deposit. In the beginning of the 80s the works here were very slow, in the 90s they stopped completely, but as the Verny Capital investments came in the mid-2000s gold production resumed and reached untold proportions: from 2010 to 2012 they managed to mine the same quantity of gold as for two decades before that – 11.5 tons. Now, at full capacity, the MPP can produce 15 tons of gold per year. In 2007-2008, thanks to USD 700 million investments, a new modern infrastructure was built at the mine, which allowed for 18 times increase in the volumes of gold mined from 2006 to 2012. Now it is the largest gold-mining facility in Kazakhstan with the largest production capacity and the first project which was implemented within the framework of the State Programme of Boosted Industrial and Innovative Development. Mining at the Vasilkovskoye field is carried out in an open way, and one ton of ore contains an average of 2 grams of gold – seemingly crumbs, but this is sufficient for profitability. This is the so-called rebellious or refractory ore with a fine impregnation of gold, which contains a lot of arsenic. Effective work with such ore requires a comprehensive innovative enrichment technology, which became possible thanks to the investments made by Bulat Utemuratov.
Ore processing plant at the Altyntau Kokshetau MPP
Technological processes of the plant include three stages of crushing to 5 mm in size, grinding in two large-sized ball mills, gravity extraction of gold on centrifugal units, flotation, reactor oxidation, cyanidation, carbon-in-pulp process and electrolysis. For example, «Outotec» ball mills were designed specifically for the MPP – there are no mills of such specifications and size at any other enterprise in the world. All these technologies were introduced at the enterprise in 2009, when they built and commissioned a new processing plant. At the opening ceremony, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev proposed to rename the Vasilkovsky MPP in “Altyntau”. Altyntau added to the plant new machinery for the extraction of gold ore, which allowed reaching the productivity of 8 million ore per year. Old BelAZ trucks were replaced with Caterpillar dump trucks and RH 120-E TEREX excavators.  
Caterpillar dump truck at the Altyntau Kokshetau site
Having adjusted the infrastructure and operations in 2012-2013 by the Verny Capital Holding, shareholder Bulat Utemuratov withdrew from the Kazzinc shareholders. As soon as in 2014, the gold mining industry showed a stable development dynamics: the results of the first four months of 2015 exceeded the indicators of 2014 by 20.6%, and in January-April 2016 9.2% more gold ore was extracted than in the same period of 2015. Totally in 2015, 57 tons were mined, and in 2016 – 60 tons. Altyntau Resources company has rightly become the leader of the industry.

Why smart technology is the most important thing in the XXI century banking sector

The Kassa Nova bank is a unique case in the Kazakhstani market. A compact bank was included into the list of the most stable financial institutions and into 20 the most fast-growing companies of Kazakhstan due to the smart flexible approach to the banking sector, approach promoted by the bank’s majority shareholder, Bulat Utemuratov. Kassa Nova does not look like a standard Kazakhstani bank. At first, the founders had in mind a network of microcredit organisations, which appeared in Kazakhstan in 2008. But as early as in 2009, the company received a licence to carry out banking operations as the JSC Bank Kassa Nova, having inherited a wide network of branches and becoming the first bank in Kazakhstan based on microcredit principles. In December of the same 2009, the company issued its first loan as a bank. Kazakhstani businessman Bulat Utemuratov, who is also a shareholder of the JSC ForteBank, became the majority shareholder of the new effective concept bank. Kassa Nova has always positioned itself as a consumer bank focused on providing financial services to the population and small businesses. Such positioning assumes efficiency, simplicity, comfort, friendly service and orientation to the needs of Kazakhstani people in the financial services sector. Probably, this was the impetus to the development of the bank in the direction of digitality, innovation and adaptability, because these are precisely the qualities that turn banks into advanced ecosystems capable of competing with popular IT services and companies in the consumer market. In 2017, when the JSC Bank Kassa Nova increased its authorised capital by 12.2% – up to KZT 10,365,140,000 it became clear that the bank took the right course for the development. “The increase in Tier 1 capital is planned in the Bank’s development strategy. This will improve the financial performance, expand the client base, ensure the growth of assets, the bank’s stability will increase,” – the holder of the bank’s majority stake, Bulat Utemuratov, commented on the additional capitalisation then. The additional capitalisation of the bank proved the shareholder continued investing and was determined to develop it. According to the National Bank, Kassa Nova ranked 23rd in terms of assets among 33 Kazakhstani banks in the first quarter of 2017. The Bank was included into the top ten stable Kazakhstani financial institutions with a B/B rating on the international scale and KzBB on the national one according to the estimates of the S&P international agency, wrote, and Forbes Kazakhstan placed the company as the 9th in the “20 fastest growing companies in the Republic of Kazakhstan” rating. Innovation implies the search for flexible solutions, not only technological, but also in partnership with third organisations. In November 2015, Kassa Nova Bank launched a cooperation programme with the JSC Kazpost. Since then, the bank’s customers can replenish the bank accounts of individuals in cash at any outlet of Kazpost which has the largest network of outlets in Kazakhstan – 3,200 outlets. The commission for such an operation is only half a percentage point. The client does not need to know the bank details, you just need to name the unique code of the bank – 4856, and show your identity card to the clerk. A successful solution significantly simplified the life of bank customers who live in small towns and settlements where the bank’s branches are not represented. Kassa Nova bank outlets are generally losing their traditional function – servicing of clients. As Bill Gates once said: banking services will continue to be in demand, but the banks themselves – not. Customers now more often come to the branches just to take a cup of coffee, open an account for the first time, and in future will come to have a pleasant and useful time, but all other ordinary operations and some complex ones from 2013 can be performed online via internet-banking or the My Kassa mobile application in one’s smartphone. Kassa Nova outlets now look like small islands costing to the bank a little bit more than three million tenge and are, as a rule, located in large shopping malls. In December 2017 the Kassa Nova application rated second as for the usability among the Kazakhstani bank applications, according to the survey of a Russian company “USABILITYLAB”. Another bank – ForteBank, having Bulat Utemuratov as its shareholder, was on the forth place in the same rating. Kassa Nova is committed to becoming a smart company, not a purely financial institution. Fintech is actively developing all over the world and to survive, a small bank needs to be head and shoulders above its larger counterparts in terms of smart technology and flexibility. Shareholders in the person of Bulat Utemuratov support this strategy, emphasising that not only do they plan no mergers of Kassa Nova and ForteBank, but also believe in the success of the concept of the compact progressive bank Kassa Nova, which copes well with the tasks set by the management. In 2013, Kassa Nova Bank established its own processing center, launched the issuance of MasterCard cards, in 2016 – the issuance of VISA cards. Availability of its own processing secured a lot of advantages. In 2015, the bank renewed its Colvir banking system where modern banking technologies were implemented – from budgeting to risk management. In 2016 the bank launched online P2P transfers, an effective Nova+ deposit with an annual effective interest rate of 16% and above and several anti-crisis products from credit cards with a grace repayment period to TEMPO COMFORT and TEMPO CARD secured loans at favorable rates, for a long period and with credit lines. In 2017, for example, sales on credit cards increased five-fold, and the forecast for 2018 is even more positive. All this is not very impressive now, but three years ago almost no Kazakhstani bank could boast of such a flexible and smart product portfolio. Any new products in the bank are considered only through the prism of “online” – if the novelty cannot be digitised, in 99% of cases it will not eventually be implemented. In promotion, the bank tested the Direct Marketing system in partnership with the Kcell mobile operator – this approach allowed for sending more targeted proposals to potential customers using such parameters as gender, age, smartphone model, and telecommunication services costs. The bank managed to use the accumulated customer base of the operator for a much smaller amount than would go to creating a similar customer base internally. The feedback percentage during the pilot mailing was 67%, and the real conversion was 20%. This became a precedent. Another smart project in the framework of cooperation with Kcell is called “Business pulse” – free SMS for conduction of mobile surveys of customers. The method was used to fine-tune business processes in the bank’s branches and to increase the level of customer satisfaction. It turned out that this is not only handy for customers, but also beneficial for the company – the cost and the “length” of the business process to improve the service quality was reduced. It was not necessary to involve consulting, to conduct research, to arrange focus groups and to try finding out what customers think and feel, because you can just ask. The compactness of the bank allows it to quickly and efficiently adapt to the needs of the client and the changing realities of the modern financial sector in the global world.

How ForteBank was tempered

A brief history of recovery of the banking sector in Kazakhstan illustrated by an example of the merger of Alliance Bank, Temirbank and ForteBank. The JSC ForteBank is one of the leading banks in Kazakhstan with 19 branches and a wide network of 102 outlets throughout the country. In 2017, at The Banker distinguished award ceremony in London, Forte was recognised as the Bank of the Year in Kazakhstan, and in 2018 the Global Finance magazine also named ForteBank “The Best Bank of Kazakhstan” at its 25th annual award ceremony for the best banks in the world. The decisions of the expert commissions were influenced by the strengthening of the bank’s market positions, the growth of important financial indicators, the introduction of technological solutions and the development of new business lines. As of the beginning of 2018, ForteBank is among the country’s five largest banks in terms of assets and top-3 in terms of capitalisation and liquidity. In 2017, Moody’s upgraded the outlook on ForteBank’s ratings from “stable” to “positive”. The same was done by the S&P Global Ratings agency who have revised the bank’s rating on the national scale from “kzBB” to “kzBB +”. Forte clients can withdraw cash without commission fees in bank machines of other banks, get cashback on their payment cards for non-cash payments for goods or services, more than 10,000 entrepreneurs actively use ForteBank POS-terminals to service their clients, and the ForteBank mobile application was recognised   as the best mobile banking in Kazakhstan and the 9th best bank application within the CIS in 2017, according to the Markswebb analytical agency. Four years ago it was completely different. Another bank – Alliance Bank – belonged to the National Welfare Fund Samruk-Kazyna and was considered problematic. Not only Alliance Bank was a problem, but also Temirbank. The process of merging the three banks was secured by the investment bank Lazard and the law firm White & Case. The name ForteBank was chosen from all three not casually. This was preceded by a serious marketing research, the results of which showed that Alliance Bank and Temirbank had too high negative awareness among creditors and consumers of banking services in Kazakhstan due to restructurings that were already conducted in these banks. In an interview with, Bulat Utemuratov, a shareholder of the merged banks, said that he had invested about 400 million dollars – the cost of purchasing Temirbank and the funds of ForteBank. In an interview with five years ago, the businessman said he was ready to guarantee to the clients the creation of one of the best Kazakhstani banks with his business reputation: “… significant investments and efforts were made, so a unified bank should be able to be viable. I believe that after the completion of restructuring of Alliance Bank and of the merger with Temirbank, the merged bank will become one of the leaders of Kazakhstan’s banking system in terms of capital adequacy level and liquidity,” – Utemuratov commented. In October 2013 Bulat Utemuratov started negotiations with the Samruk-Kazyna Fund, and in May 2014 Utemuratov bought 79.88% of Temirbank’s ordinary shares and 16% of ordinary and preferred shares of Alliance Bank from the Fund. The Samruk-Kazyna Fund remained the majority shareholder of Alliance Bank with 51% share. In 2014, Temirbank and ForteBank had sufficient capital, while Alliance Bank had a strictly negative one. So the merger could happen only after the restructuring of Alliance Bank. This process was completed in December 2014 and later Samruk-Kazyna decided to sell to Bulat Utemuratov the remaining shares of Alliance Bank. Representatives of the Samruk-Kazyna Fund noted that this was a critical point, the passage through which allowed reaching the goal – withdrawal of the state structures from the capital of second-tier banks in line with the instruction of the Head of State, Nursultan Nazarbayev. This is a big step to improve the Kazakhstani banking system and to implement the anti-crisis programme to stabilise the financial sector, which provides for the release of the Samruk-Kazyna Fund from its non-relevant function of bank management. All this taken together contributed to the greater benefit for the end users of banking services – private and corporate persons, the improvement of service and the expansion of product portfolios through the introduction of new technologies and the need for competitiveness.

How Verny Capital Holding opens luxury hotels in Kazakhstan and in the world

Ritz-Carlton is an international network of luxury hotels. Globally the network is managed by The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, subsidiary of the largest hotel holding Marriott International. Marriott International is more than 6,500 properties across 127 countries and regions of the world. Marriott brands are the most successful and high quality ones in the world. For example, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company became the only service company awarded with the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award twice – in 1992 and 1999. Ritz-Carlton hotels in Astana, Moscow and Vienna fall within the portfolio of the Verny Capital Holding working in the sector of direct investments and managing, inter alia, funds of Kazakhstani businessman Bulat Utemuratov. Московский Ritz Carlton The Moscow Ritz-Carlton is located in the historical centre of Moscow in the Tverskaya Street, in the vicinity of the Red Square and the Moscow Kremlin – two major sightseeing places of Russia’s capital. This location was always used for hotels: in the XIX century – “Paris”, in which Nekrasov liked to stop, and in the Soviet years – the 22-storey “Intourist”, classical for the socialist republics. The hotel gained its present-day appearance in 2005-2007, when they built a new 11-storey building designed by well-known architect Andrey Dmitriyevich Meerson with a more classical facade in the eclectic style. Well-known Kazakhstani businessman Bulat Utemuratov purchased the project in 2011. Even then, Russian experts called the deal profitable, given the location of the hotel, the functionality of the business and its prestige in the world community. Next year, 2012, another Ritz-Carlton hotel was added to the portfolio of the holding company – this time in the Austrian capital, Vienna. Bulat Utemuratov opened a 202-room hotel in Schubertring – a famous historical area, close to the Vienna State Opera and the Museum of Fine Arts. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel is housed in two 19th century palaces, which are protected as monuments to the cultural heritage of Austria. Ritz Carlton в Вене Unlike the other two hotels from the Verny Capital’s portfolio, Ritz-Carlton Astana is located not in the historical part of the city, but in the high-tech complex Talan Towers – the holding’s signature project in the sphere of commercial real estate. The whole complex of the Talan Towers is 120 thousand square meters. One tower has “A” class offices, another – the hotel and apartments, and there is a shopping gallery in between.   To build the Talan Towers, an international team of the best consultants, designers, architects and contractors was invited with the aim of creating a new magnet place. Ritz-Carlton Astana cost its owner Bulat Utemuratov 430 million dollars, writes the Atameken Business Channel. The interiors of the five-star luxury hotel Ritz-Carlton with a ballroom, meeting rooms, a spa and a swimming pool, were developed by the hotel interior design company Richmond. The company’s director, Terry McGillicuddy, said in an interview to “All rooms and suites of the hotel are distinguished with luxury and glitter, as well as with exceptional service and comfort, as expected from a world-class project.” And the Atameken Business Channel told that the team was inspired primarily by the nature of Kazakhstan: “We tried to bring Kazakhstan’s spirit into the interior of the hotel, using abstract compositions to show the rich nature of this country. When the lobby was being designed, the mountains and rivers of the country became the inspiration for us, so the lines were used there. In doing so, we used the materials of the highest quality. I am so proud of this project.” Ritz Carlton Astana Ritz-Carlton Astana opened on the threshold of EXPO-2017 in June 2017, so that it was possible to accommodate high-ranking guests in a five-star hotel of a popular international network. The head of state, Nursultan Nazarbayev, cut the ribbon together with Bulat Utemuratov. Kazakhstani politicians, businessmen, celebrities and socialites gathered at the opening – the opening of a hotel of such a level took place in the capital for the first time. Milla Jovovich and Fyodor Bondarchuk were the hosts of the evening, and the guests were entertained by the legendary British band Jamiroquai and incomparable Patricia Kaas. The hotel was built in compliance with the best international practices of “green” construction: not only were ecological building materials used here, but, for example, all construction waste was recycled. “We deliberately spent a lot of time designing “smart” systems. For example, the sockets in the hotel’s lounge bar are mounted in the backs of sofas and even under the bar counter – for the comfort of customers. We discussed with the designers at length how to implement this technically,” – explained the Director General of the Verny Capital Holding, Yerlan Ospanov, in an interview to In April 2018 the Talan Towers multifunctional complex became the first holder of the gold level LEED certificate in the field of “green construction” in Kazakhstan. Номер в Ritz Carlton Astana The hotel has the total of 157 rooms: 108 Deluxe rooms, 17 Club Rooms, 11 Junior Suites, 10 Executive suites, eight Carlton Suites, and three Ritz-Carlton Suites. The cost of the rooms varies from KZT60,000 for Deluxe to KZT4 million for the Ritz-Carlton suite, depending on the time of booking, season and additional services. Hotel guests can use the spa and wellness center, the fitness center, but almost all the reviews on most of all praise the beautiful view of the city from the panoramic windows of the rooms and unchallenged service. The entire Ritz-Carlton network, regardless of whether this is in Astana, Moscow or Vienna, understands service as something much more than a cozy and beautifully furnished room and a soft bed. Guests who live in luxury rooms, for example, have a personal butler service available. Butler is a professional who becomes the main contact for a guest, available 24 hours. Butler ensures the fulfillment of all the wishes of the guest, becoming his link with all the services of the hotel. The hotel follows the philosophy of “We are ladies and gentlemen at the service of ladies and gentlemen”, because employees here are considered as the soul and the main advantage. Only loyal and company-loving employees, in whose education the company invests a lot of resources, are able to provide the proper level of service to the guests of the premium hotel. This policy was set by the Marriott International company and is unfailingly maintained by all franchisees, so visiting any Ritz-Carlton in the world guests receive a consistently high level of service to which they are accustomed. The first-class service is provided by an international team of professionals. “In our hotel, a multinational team consists of hospitality industry experts from very different countries: Peru, France, Turkey, Germany. All of them worked towards the opening of several hotels of our network. I have experience in opening nine hotels of The Ritz-Carlton network,” – says Dennis Kurt Jung from Germany, General Manager of The Ritz-Carlton Astana. Ritz-Carlton welcome guests as family members – make unexpected but always pleasant gifts, look for reasons to pay attention, exceed expectations, and not just provide the basic services listed on the site when booking.

How did Bulat Utemuratov set up a financial institution attractive for foreign investors?

In mid-2000s the economy of Kazakhstan showed an incredible growth. Hence, the banking system was also growing. It looked exciting and promising not only within the country but also for foreign investors. It’s not so easy, Kazakhstan – a large oil country located between China and Russia. All banks were growing fast at that time and at some point they came up to an ambitious mission – to become a systematically important financial institution for the entire economy. And what does one need to do for that? Increase capitalisation. The task of capital expansion, among others, also confronted ATFBank, a dynamic emerging financial institution set up by businessmen Bulat Utemuratov. Over 10 years after its opening, ATFBank, according to the Fitch Ratings data for 2007, in the height of the credit boom, thanks among other things to the clever management, was one of the four largest commercial banks of Kazakhstan. The ATFBank assets in 2006 comprised EUR 6.3 billion, capital – EUR 345.7 billion, net profit – EUR 26 million. But even with such results, it was not possible to move forward like headline players – Kazkommertzbank or Bank TuramAlem, therefore the ATFBank management decided to take on a strategic investor. To build up the capital and to create a really powerful financial asset, the top management of the bank started thinking of a strategic investor – a foreign commercial bank which was unlikely to be interested in the minority share. As early as by the end of 2006 the managers arrived at an idea that the optimal option would be to sell 100% of the bank. In this case the potential pool of investors was becoming larger as at that time foreign banks were hunting for assets in the territory of Eastern Europe and the CIS. Understanding the necessity of global changes, ATFBank started selection of a potential investor. Two potential investors – UniCredit and BNP Paribas – came through to the final after long discussions and scrupulous research. And thus, on 21 June 2007 a subsidiary of the Italian holding UniCredit and private shareholders of ATFBank have signed an agreement on acquisition of the majority package of the ATFBank shares; and in October Bank Austria Creditanstalt (the Vienna representative office of UniCredit) announced the purchase of 91.8% of the bank assets. The amount of the transaction consummated in the second half of 2007 comprised USD 2.2. billion. The transaction was beneficial for all participants. So, UniCredit has got the bank with 155 branches in Kazakhstan, Russia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, the insurance and leasing companies and the pension fund. According to analytics, purchase of ATFBank by UniCredit (with assets of over EUR 800 billion) is an illustrative example of the increased focus on Kazakhstan on the part of significant world investors. This interest is also stipulated by the fact that one of the major ATFBank shareholders, Bulat Utemuratov, has already got the reputation of a reliable and promising partner: back in 1994 he helped Bank Creditanstalt in opening the first Kazakhstani credit line. It’s also worth noting that during all twelve years of developing the bank up to the moment of its sale to the UniCredit group all profits generated by ATFBank was reinvested in its own capital and in strengthening of its financial market positions. Who would have known that a global financial crisis would strike just less than a year after the consummation of this transaction. However, in the words of Romeo Collina, ex-Chair of the ATFBank Board, the UniCredit Group has no regret for the acquisition of ATFBank. “We have bought ATFBank in 2007 when everyone was looking to the East. Actually, when everyone was heading to China, we did not go to China, we went to the country which had an economic potential. The only thing is that we were unlucky with a crisis beginning just 3 months after we have acquired the bank”.
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