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Small businesses in Kazakhstan

Small Business: A Driving Force in Kazakhstan’s Developing Economy

small business chalkboard resized for edgeAt Kazakhstan’s present state of development, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are becoming a major factor in improving the country’s competitiveness in international trade. The development of entrepreneurship in the SME sector contributes to increased employment, increased volumes and a qualitative improvement in domestic production.

By the end of 2013, in Astana alone, the volume of production in SMEs exceeded $5.4 billion. Government programs have helped support entrepreneurs in the young country, but there is more to be done to support this crucial economic force.

SMEs at a Glance

Kazakhstan’s National Statistics Agency considers any company with less than 50 employees a small business and companies with between 50 and 250 people to be medium-sized. According to the agency’s figures, SMEs in Kazakhstan employ just over 2.5 million people, and by the end of 2014 they contributed about 17.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).greenhouse ag resezed The development of the SME sector continues against the background of a gradual stabilization of the economic situation in Kazakhstan on one hand and the increasing influence of external economic factors on the other.

Currently, trade and commerce makes up the largest portion of all SMEs (41 percent), followed by agriculture (22 percent), services (11 percent), transport and communication (7 percent), construction (3 percent) and heavy industry (3 percent). Other enterprises make up the remaining 13 percent.

The dynamism of the SME sector and its exposure to changes in the business environment means risk can be high, even for enterprises that generally function well, and the survival rate of new companies is low. A number of problems related to SME development in Kazakhstan emerged over the early years of independence, when the country was forming its sovereign economy, and remain unresolved to this day.

To help rectify these problems, the state has come to play an active role in managing SMEs. From 2009 – 2011, the government conducted several large-scale programs aimed at developing small and medium-sized businesses, and the development of SMEs is at the core of the country’s current Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy, which holds improving quality of life in Kazakhstan as one of its main goals. During his most recent state-of-the nation address, President Nursultan Nazarbayev announced that Kazakhstan needs to bring the SME contribution to GDP up to 50 percent by 2050.

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