Shadow

Kazakhstan’s startups led by women are making significant strides in international markets

Women are playing a vital part in shaping the future of the tech industry. The number of projects, created by female entrepreneurs in Astana Hub, the largest technology park in Central Asia, is increasing, demonstrating high efficiency and successful entry into global markets. Currently, around 250 companies registered in the technology park are women-led, with 25% of them successfully exporting their services abroad.

Among the startups from Astana Hub showcased at the Web Summit Qatar 2024, the project ZebraEye, founded by Yana Ten, has attracted the attention of foreign investors. Yana Ten also made history as the first speaker from Kazakhstan at the Web Summit, spoke on “Artificial Intelligence in Ophthalmology.” ZebraEye is a unique AI software that diagnoses rare eye diseases with 95% accuracy in just 1 minute.

“Our company is focusing on the Middle East market, where we’ve garnered significant interest from government institutions, particularly the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. In Qatar, our project has attracted several investors, including the major venture fund Doha Venture Capital, which manages $1 billion. We have also received support from the Qatar Science and Technology Park, which has encouraged local investors to explore ZebraEye and offers comprehensive assistance in entering the market. This region holds a great promise, and we eagerly anticipate further opportunities,” said Yana Ten, co-founder and CEO of ZebraEye.

Another notable example of female entrepreneurship is Laura Vaygorova. Her startup, SmarTestPrep (STP), supported by artificial intelligence, offers personalized preparation services and an extensive database of educational programs and scholarships. It brings together students, high schools, and universities on one platform. STP helped students from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and other CIS countries receive over 4,500 invitations from universities and study through scholarships and grants in 22 countries. In 2022, STP joined the elite ASU GSV Elite 200 list, which showcases the fastest-growing early-stage EdTech startups globally. The company was valued at $10 million and successfully attracted over $230,000 in investments.

A significant accomplishment in the ecosystem, not only for Kazakhstan but for all Central Asia, is the success of the team led by Yana Shoibekova. In December 2023, a technology startup from Kazakhstan secured funding from a US investor for the first time. Citix, specializing in smart city and adTech areas, raised over $1 million in investments from American venture capitalist Tim Draper, who has previously invested in projects such as Baidu, Tesla, Skype, SpaceX, Twitch, Hotmail, Focus Media, and Robinhood.

Citix, an innovator in the fields of smart city and adTech, specializes in developing smart city gadgets – smart boards, controlled by their own software using blockchain technology. Citix deployed a network of more than 130 smart boards in the cities of Almaty and Astana, successfully entering the Turkish market in 2022 and signing a memorandum of cooperation in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in 2023.

“This achievement was made possible through the dedicated efforts of our team, strong support from our current shareholders and investors, the Ministry of Digital Development of Kazakhstan, Astana Hub, and Draper University. Tim’s investments signify trust in our project and confidence in our success. Investing in Citix will generate interest in other IT projects in Kazakhstan and Central Asia, leading to the development and export of technologies, and consequently, to economic growth,” said Yana Shoibekova, co-founder and CEO of Citix.

Earlier this year, Astana Hub, in collaboration with the National Commission on Women’s Affairs and Family and Demographic Policy under the President of Kazakhstan and Techno Women, launched the program called Tech Girls. Within this program, 3,000 Kazakh women from all regions of the country will have the opportunity for free training in the IT field.

“The rising number of successful projects created by women is truly inspiring. We take pride not only in fostering a supportive environment for IT businesses and startups but also in actively supporting and training qualified IT professionals. There is a noticeable increase in women’s interest in IT business education. The Tech Orda program, implemented in Astana Hub with the support of the Ministry of Digital Development of Kazakhstan, provided grants for the training of over 6,000 students, with 40% of them being women. Additionally, more than 4,000 Kazakh women applied to participate in the Tech Girls program, and IT-Aiel program graduates are actively creating and developing their projects. This confirms that our efforts to develop and support female entrepreneurship and education are making a significant impact on the IT industry,” noted Daniya Akhmetova, Managing Director of Astana Hub.

It is worth reminding that in 2023, over 2,000 unemployed women received free training through the IT-Aiel program, attending No Code School and Freelance School courses, and acquiring basic computer literacy skills. It is expected that the IT-Aiel program will continue this year, supporting women’s aspirations for a successful career in information technology.

Astana Hub is the largest technology park in Central Asia, whose activities are aimed at creating and developing an ecosystem for IT business, training IT specialists, and supporting startup projects. Currently, 1,400 IT companies are registered in the technology park, including almost 400 foreign members. They receive comprehensive support, including business development and scaling programs, special tax and visa conditions, information and educational support, and material infrastructure.

Press Office of Astana Hub:

Assel Mizamkyzy,

pr@astanahub.com,

+7 747 432 20 56

Disclaimer: The views, suggestions, and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No  journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.