How can "Atameken" help small and medium businesses in reality?
Service support for projects and information on the public-private partnership are in biggest demand
Service support for business is one of the main directions of the National Chamber of Entrepreneurs "Atameken". However, this sector of work is least known to the public. There are many reasons for it. The preference of businessmen, who have received service support, to avoid the spotlights of studios, non-publicity of consultants, who are not fond of popularity.
Meanwhile, it is one of the areas of activity in which NCE has achieved the greatest efficiency. We are talk to the deputy chairman of NCE RK "Atameken" Tulemis Shotanov about how "Atameken" can really help to small and medium businesses.
- Tulemis Sadykovich what does service support of business consist of and to whom it is rendered?
- I would like to make highlight that the beneficiaries of this activity are the representatives of small and medium-sized businesses. Large companies with a large staff of qualified consultants, as a rule, don’t need this kind of service. Therefore, our client was and still is a businessman of SMEs, or even just a citizen, entering this path.
I would like to begin with the historical factor that in 2015 the National Chamber of Entrepreneurs by the decision of the Government and according to the agreement with the customer - the Ministry of National Economy of Kazakhstan, under a single program "Business Road Map-2020" provides non-financial support for business. Last year we realized the functions of the three components of the program: service support for business, consulting, and business studies. All these elements are interconnected and closely intertwined.
- There is a question, which immediately pops out: why do you teach how to do business in a country that for 25 years is in the market econonmy?
- The question is legitimate. But I would like to make a distinction from the evaluations of institutions that previously were engaged in it. I can only say that only now, with the establishment of the National Chamber of Entrepreneurs, this work has become systemic. Why should we teach business? First, we implement the order of the Head of State to increase the share of small and medium-sized businesses in the country's GDP. Today, this figure already exceeds 25 percent. Secondly, we, like any customer-oriented organization, responding to the demand. And it is very high and growing. It has long been noted that during a crisis, people decide to start a business. But the situation is as follows, that even after 25 years of life in a market economy, many people do not know where to start from. Just registered entrepreneurs experience difficulties with accounting, the problems with the compilance of a business plan, formation of tender documentation, with a lack of working capital, or problems of legal character ... And, unfortunately, most often a novice businessman has to deal with it on his own.
"BRM-2020" solves these complex problems within the frames of which we work. Our goal is to help entrepreneur not to get lost in the world of information and choose the right direction in their activities.
- Where did you start from?
- With the selection of consultants. You have to agree that a professional with specific qualification requirements - education, work experience in the field - must teach how to run a business. The competition was rigorous and as a result, we selected 800 people who work in 16 regions of Kazakhstan.
- Where exactly?
- We already have our infrastructure in the form of business support centers and in the form of the offices of the structures that were engaged in this process before the function was transferred to the Chamber – Centers for Servicing Entrepreneurs. I would like to note that the local executive authorities actively supported NCE. For example, Regional Akimat of Aktobe gave us an administrative building for establishment of a Center for Servicing Entrepreneurs in trust management.
The mechanism of operation is simple. An entrepreneur, current or future one addresses to BSC or CSE and receives advice and assistance on any issue of interest. It is necessary to compile a business plan, to apply to a bank for a loan – there is a marketing specialist at your service. If you need a web-site for your enterprise – we provide services of IT-specialists. Eight experts will consult you on any eight main directions of the program.
- Including information on the measures of state support?
- That's right. When we started this work, we were surprised to find out that the majority of businessmen, even with extensive experience in this area, do not know on what mechanisms of state support they can count. And we fill this gap.
I would like to note that we strictly control the work of consultants. Each client at the end of the work fills out a questionnaire, which indicates whether he or she is satisfied with advice or has any complaints. In addition, there is a contact center at NCE, to which any entrepreneur can call and share his problem.
- And how effective is this work? How many new productions were put into operation with the support of NCE?
- It's hard to say something about the statistics of newly opened businesses. As I said, not only budding entrepreneurs approach us, but also the operating SMEs. Someone has just opened a business, and someone extends an existing business. But one thing is for sure: in 2015, we have served more than 30 thousand entrepreneurs by rendering them 40 thousand services. And with the plan to render 140 thousand consultations, we had given 212,000 consultations. All this is confirmed by the acts of completed works - financial statements, which we pass on to the customer. I would like to draw your attention that this is a multiple over-fulfillment of set targets. But these figures are only for one component - service support. And there are others. For example, which I have already mentioned – teaching to basics of business.
-Can you tell me more about this?
- I have already said that businessmen can count on state support. But the state must have an assurance that it provides a service to a person who has an idea of what and how he will deal with, to a person, who is familiar with the basic concepts of business, taking responsibility for the outcome of its activities. In addition, there are "pitfalls" that accompany the work of any businessman.
Process of business education consists of two stages. The first is the program "Business Advisor". At this level, we provide the most basic and essential concepts of marketing, accounting, current legislation on business. It offers business schemes of work. A person, who has attended the course "Business Advisor" will receive a special certificate, which gives them the right to apply for support to state agencies.
The second stage "Business Growth" is designed for a more prepared client. At this level, there is more in-depth training to all necessary practical skills and business practices.
And finally, the third element is practical training during which we send a group of businessmen to the already existing facilities. I believe sometimes it is not enough to have only theoretical knowledge. It is important that the person tries himself in it. Businessmen with experience, tempered in the struggle for a place in the market, by their own example tell them about the intricacies and nuances of the work. This course has its own industry-specifics. For example, we send a future farmer to the long established dairy farm, and the owner tells the secrets of work in this area, gives a master class.
As for the performance indicators in this area. With the initial plan to cover 12 thousand entrepreneurs, we taught the basics of business to 15 thousand people. That is, we exceeded the plan in this area as well.
- Are there any specific examples where the support of the Chamber has led to the realization of the demanded business project?
- I will give just one figure: 2 880 entrepreneurs received funding after they have passed training in our centers. It is mostly SMEs: greenhouses, animal husbandry, the services sector - baths, hairdressers, tailors, dry cleaners ... We help entrepreneurs to compile a business plan, he goes to the bank and receives funding to implement their ideas. That is, thanks to our work, there have appeared enterprises, which pay taxes and create new jobs. Once again, I would like to note that this is only the newly opened business. And we advise the operating business.
- What's next? What is the next stage of development of NCE RK "Atameken"?
- Today, our task is to improve the quality of provided services. And, although the data of contact services shows that 95 per cent of applicants of BSC and CSE are generally satisfied, we want to continue this work. What is needed for that? We intend to standardize as much as possible all of the processes, to introduce an accounting system, to minimize the influence of the human factor. In other words, our client upon formulation of a problem gets a ready case for its decisions. It is clear that there are always individual nuances, but some basic things have to be standardized. That is, when a person comes, asks a question, we must have as much as possible a prepared answer. It is clear that the consultant must brief an applicant on certain nuances, but the fundamentals must be standardized and extended throughout the whole Kazakhstan.
As for the evaluation system we want a quality assessment of each person. Whether Mr. Ivanov, Mr. Petrenko, Mr. Urazbaev, Mr. Akhmetov are satisfied with our work? What kind of service has he received? To solve this, we want to introduce a uniform automated platform. But this question of the future, but now we are going to implement SMS-mail experience based on the experience of our telecommunication companies. The client can evaluate the work of BSC by sending an SMS message.
In addition, we conducted a study and found that what our customers and businessmen wait for us. It was found out that service support of projects and information on the public-private partnership are in greatest demand. Today we have discussed this issue with our customer - the Ministry of National Economy of Kazakhstan and agreed that in the future we will introduce two of these elements, two types of services.
In what direction will we move from here? Obviously, the Chamber will provide a full range of services for businessmen. It is important that our BSC and CSE work on a "single window" principle. Turning to us, a businessman can register the company and get assistance in obtaining all permits, and even choose the direction of the activities, a project. A unique tool, which was developed by NCE RK "Atameken" - Map of Regional Development will facilitate it. It contains unique information. With the help of the map, an entrepreneur will find a niche in the competitive market, investors, raw materials, enter into an agreement with an electric power supply organization and customers. After all, it is no secret that search of sales markets is one of the main objectives for business.
And we hope that our support for business will get even more concrete shape.