The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Astana Hub signed a memorandum of understanding under the EBRD's Star Venture accelerated startup development program, launched in late 2022, QazMonitor reports.
The signing took place at the Digital Almaty forum on February 2.
"Previously the Star Venture program focused on the Mediterranean region as well as the Balkan countries, but this year we activated it in Kazakhstan and Mongolia," explained EBRD Head for Kazakhstan Huseyin Özhan during the panel session "Scaling up startups from Central Asia: potential regions, opportunities and challenges."
He emphasized that Kazakhstan is the first country in Central Asia to launch this program.
As of today, Star Venture has supported more than 500 startups in the regions where the EBRD is present. More than 90 have attracted a total of about $370 million in investment over the last three years.
Speaking about this, Ozhan noted that Kazakhstan is setting the pace in the region for venture capital financing, but the local capital market still has a long way to go to reach the level of developed countries.
"Startups in emerging markets like Kazakhstan raise funding in different ways. They work with venture capitalists, and business angels, and can also use crowdfunding platforms. That said, there are other products that can support startups at the initial stage," he said.
“We are talking about the first round of investment, which is especially important for entrepreneurs.”
The startups chosen for the Star Venture program must be able to effectively manage the attracted resources to develop their activities and enter new markets, he pointed out.
The EBRD has already selected the first eight startups that will participate in it: Clockster (human resources and business automation tool), MedData.ai (clinic and health management platform), S1lkPay (prepaid card exchange service), Tayyab (digital Islamic finance service), Investbanq (digital investment bank), UvU (bus transportation platform), Parqour (smart parking solution), and Bank4me (installment or credit self-pay service).
They will have access to an EBRD mentor network of more than 1,500 experts, which includes nearly 30 accelerators as well as Nomadic Minds, an international organization of venture capital market professionals, Ozhan said.
"We have early development offices, where startups can get free consulting services, and sessions with individual support from Cambridge University."