This story was originally published in the March/April 2015 edition of USAID’s Frontlines Magazine.
Kazakhstani food processing entrepreneurs visited Kansas State University to improve bakery techniques. Photo: VEGA
Did you know that North Dakota has climate similar to that of Kazakhstan? And that, as a result, with U.S. assistance, the state’s cattle have served as “mother herds” for Kazakhstani beef farmers striving to restart a struggling industry historically vital to rural jobs? That’s not the only thing the two countries have in common. Since Kazakhstan gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, its economy has grown to be the largest in Central Asia, largely fueled by the development of its oil and gas resources. However, Kazakhstan continues to struggle with a variety of economic challenges that have their roots in the Soviet era, including an extraction-based economy and a regulatory system that impedes business growth. Poverty remains an issue, and there are significant economic disparities between urban and rural areas and between geographic regions.
Over the past few years, a variety of U.S. Government initiatives have addressed this issue by expanding growing bilateral commercial partnerships. It turns out the two countries have much more in common than shared regional climates. Common economic interests are helping to drive Kazakhstan’s economic diversification and yield greater prosperity for its people—while bolstering America’s economy at home.
One such initiative is USAID's recently completed Business Connections Project, which connects Kazakhstani businesses with prospective American partners. According to Jonathan Addleton, USAID's regional mission director for Central Asia based in Almaty, the country's economic hub, "Central Asia traditionally hasn't been on the radar for American companies. Now we're opening up direct linkages for both American and Kazakhstani firms, leading to tremendous benefits for both sides."
Read the full story on USAID's website.