IFC looks to support Kazakhstan in economy diversification

International Finance Corporation (IFC) is committed to supporting Kazakhstan in its strategy to diversify the economy, expand private sector, and achieve sustainable growth, IFC’s Regional Manager for Central Asia Cassandra Colbert.

“IFC’s well-balanced Kazakhstan portfolio cuts across diverse segments of the economy; from agribusiness, manufacturing, infrastructure, including logistics, to the financial sector, including microfinance,” Colbert said.

She noted that IFC addresses the various needs of Kazakhstan’s private sector and this includes working with institutions that provide finance to entrepreneurs—such as SMEs and micro-entrepreneurs—that IFC cannot serve directly.

Some recent project examples are the second stage of a project that expands availability of housing finance in the country launched by IFC and the Housing Construction Savings Bank of Kazakhstan (HCSBK) in 2019.

“We conducted an assessment of HCSBK’s operations as part of a joint advisory project to help the bank grow its housing portfolio by aligning its mortgage lending operations with international best practice. This phase of the project will fine tune HCSBK’s product offering and launch new products and services to meet changing market demands,” Colbert said.

She continued by saying the IFC has also partnered with Phoenix Commodities Pvt. Ltd. (British Virgin Islands) to invest into Kazakhstan’s horticulture and help the country modernize its fruit supply chain.

“The new global partnership includes a $20 million risk sharing agreement through a guarantee mechanism in favor of Phoenix Global DMCC, a Dubai-based trading subsidiary of Phoenix, and a $10 million investment in Phoenix Fruits LLP, a Kazakhstan-based subsidiary of Phoenix. The investment will support Kazakhstan’s horticulture sector and create more than 2,300 full-time and seasonal jobs, mostly for women,” she said.
According to Colbert, IFC also looks to increase its presence in the human capital sector of the country; that is, health and education.

“We believe that with stronger private sector participation in the economy, Kazakhstan can become a driver of growth in the Central Asia region. IFC is committed to supporting Kazakhstan in its strategy to diversify the economy, expand the private sector, and achieve sustainable growth,” she said.

Talking about IFC’s goals in Kazakhstan, Colbert noted that IFC need to be flexible on how it achieves them.

“So our implementation sometimes needs to be adjusted to react to changing market conditions. In Kazakhstan, these adjustments are dictated by market events in the country, global forces, or by shifts in government priorities. With the government looking to move the economy away from natural resources, opportunities are emerging in other sectors and we hope to help the private sector leverage these opportunities,” she said