Shell LiveWIRE Kazakhstan has held a unique forum to inspire entrepreneurs to expand their knowledge, networks, and achieve their full entrepreneurial potential.

Held in Uralsk for over 150 attendees, the ‘Marathon of Success’ forum, in partnership with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), delivered an insightful programme of inspirational keynote speeches and masterclasses by influential business leaders, enterprise experts, investors, and successful entrepreneurs.

Designed to develop entrepreneurs in West Kazakhstan, Shell LiveWIRE seeks to promote entrepreneurship and to build business skills and entrepreneurial acumen, as well as strengthening the competitiveness, capacity and efficiency of local SMEs. The programme also envisages the development of business incubation facilities to accelerate start-ups, and to build consultancy capacity through the training of business coaches.

Deputy Akim of Western Kazakhstan oblast, Mirzhan Satkanov opened the forum with a welcome address to the participants by emphasising the importance of initiatives like Shell LiveWIRE for the economic empowerment of the region saying, “Today’s event is one of the platforms which are necessary to help entrepreneurs to succeed. I thank Shell and their partner, the EBRD, for keeping the focus on West Kazakhstan.”

Manager of EBRD’s small business support programme in Kazakhstan, Alma Kasymova outlined Shell LiveWIRE’s key objectives and benchmarks, stating that the aim is to enable at least 15 participants to develop businesses that are eligible to receive start-up funding. Explaining what differentiates Shell LiveWIRE from other initiatives, Alma said, “The main difference is that we support entrepreneurs at every stage of their growth with a team of very experienced trainers and consultants. We are committed to see the success of our clients.”

Participants had the opportunity to join masterclasses, delivered by two of the country’s leading business coaches. Victoria Anshakova shared invaluable insights into how to commercialise business ideas, while Kaisar Makan focused on the art of networking, including how to build a client base, and presenting a business in a captivating way.

Timur Kudaibergenov shared his inspirational business journey from taxi driver to millionaire, creating a group of companies employing over 200 people.

During a panel session on ‘How to access financing’ representatives of Damu Fund and commercial banks discussed the merits of existing sources of SME financing. The overwhelming conclusion from all of the panellists was that there is enough money to fund start-ups, but there is room to increase the number of entrepreneurs who meet their criteria.

Commenting on the role for Shell LiveWIRE in the region, Zarina Bakenova, Head of Government and External Relations, Shell Kazakhstan, said, “We in Shell are committed to the socio-economic development of West Kazakhstan. Shell LiveWIRE is our global programme run in 17 countries for more than 35 years, and we are confident this programme will change the lives of many entrepreneurs of this region for the better.”

One of the budding entrepreneurs at the forum, Gulnar Bisenova, is clear about how he expects to benefit from participating in the Shell LiveWIRE programme, saying, “I think I have a great idea, but I am not confident that I will be able to start the business on my own. I think Shell LiveWIRE will enable me to build my confidence and to acquire the knowledge and business skills, while building my network and securing partners to launch a joint enterprise.”

The ‘Marathon of Success’ forum proved to be a very effective way of raising awareness of the Shell LiveWIRE Kazakhstan programme, with news coverage in at least four regional media outlets, and Instagram posts of the event reaching some 25,000 people.

Following the event, between 30-40 participants will benefit from Shell LiveWIRE’s enterprise development training programme, starting in late October, with the aim of producing 15 start-up businesses.