Interview with Yana Issakova, President of the Kazakhstan Family Business Association

The Kazakhstan Family Business Association was established in 2012. Since then, over 100 companies operating in various sectors and engaged in various industries have joined the Association. Chairwoman Yana Issakova spoke to Tharawat about family business in Kazakhstan and the goals for their further education.

Why are family businesses important to the economy of Kazakhstan?

Kazakhstan can boast of strong family traditions that are passed down from generation to generation for centuries. Kazakh business has been up and coming for the past 20 years and many of our traditions are slowly being formed. This represents an advantage as we have the possibility to learn from centuries of the experience of the global business community. But even these longstanding business practices have to be adapted to our national traditions.

According to the Global Entrepreneurs Council, about 70% of all companies in the world are family businesses. In this respect, Kazakhstan is not an exception to the rule: the vast majority of Kazakh companies are family businesses that employ other members of the family as partners, investors, or experts. Family members can be trusted more than anyone else.

It is very important to support and guide these enterprises so they can grow and be prepared to safely pass to the next generation.

What are the challenges and opportunity for family businesses of Kazakhstan?

Unfortunately, the existing legislation of Kazakhstan does not define the terms “family business,” “family enterprise” or “family company”. One of the objectives of the Kazakhstan Family Business Association is to get the family business recognised at the legislative level. It will allow us to initiate different programs in support of family businesses in the country, to represent the family enterprises at the international level and to further develop the national business practices.

On the other hand, I would not say that the lack of legal frameworks hinders the development of entrepreneurship in Kazakhstan: the number of new private companies is growing, and the entrepreneurs make long term plans not for the next one to five years only but at least for the next generation.

A lot of training programs are now being launched in Kazakhstan aimed at family businesses, including programs that educate the entrepreneur about how to get the family business to the next generation. The government offers tax benefits and other support to small enterprises.