Maksatbek Turan: The priority will be GovTech and SmartCity
About the new strategy of “Zerde” Holding

The new decade for Kazakhstan may be marked by a breakthrough in the field of IT technologies and bring the country to the world level. According to the new strategy, "Zerde" Holding JSC plans to become and develop as an active investor in industrial and innovative projects. Maksatbek Turan, Director of the Investment Department, told about how this will affect the improvement of the quality of life in the country as a whole.

- Could you please tell us about the tasks set for the Department within the framework of the Holding’s new development strategy for 2021-2030.

– As part of the new strategy, one of the key areas is the investment block. The Holding sets ambitious goals as a key investor in the ICT market of Kazakhstan. As part of this direction, it is planned to optimize existing investment projects, mainly related to projects of subsidiaries, become shareholders of Kazakhstan's private IT companies through "direct investment" and participate as partners in the creation of venture funds. These three key areas are set by the Holding.

– When is the first profit expected?

– If we talk about profit, we have defined the following KPIs for ourselves: return on investment of 5% by 2025, followed by an increase to 10% by 2030. At least 30% of free cash and net profit is planned to be allocated annually to investment activities. Speaking in detail, investing in the IT sector is a venture (risky) business, but here the process of making a profit is much more than in the traditional sector of the economy. According to international standards, there is an investment period of an average of 5 years and a post-investment period,this period accounts for the main profit.

– Is there any experience of the Holding's participation in venture funds?

– As part of the 3 areas in which the Holding sees itself in the investment activities, I would like to note that there is experience in launching its own investment projects, as well as a successful experience of entering into the shareholders of commercial organizations and successfully leaving them with a profit. As for venture funds, this is a new direction in Kazakhstan, a relatively recently born type of business. Previously, the Holding have not participated in such funds, but, as a National Institute for development in the field of ICT, in addition to developing this area – the methodological creation of a regulatory framework, we plan to participate in the creation of these funds. Over the past 5 years, the Holding has been a shareholder in a number of projects and helped them develop. After that, according to the agreed conditions, it left the projects. There are several directions: the reverse sale of its share to the founders of these projects, the sale of the share to key investors of the market (players of a certain segment). We will continue to do so in the future. Our goal is not just to grow assets and control, we will act as a "springboard" for local companies.

– What projects will Holding make direct investments into?

– As for projects, the focus will be on the GovTech direction, and we are also a key organization in the formation of the SmartCity, EdTech, Industry 4.0 and Fintech industries. If you look at it, the eGov lacks a block on financial instruments, the financial ecosystem, and making payments. It is planned to consider projects in the aerospace industry, also agrotech has a great unrealized potential, we can contribute to this sector. Priority projects are also in the field of information security, where large funds are invested, because this gives independence in the digital segment and protection of its resources to each country.

– What is the ultimate goal of the Holding's investment activities under the new strategy?

– If we take into account the slogan of our strategy "Let's dream – let's achieve!", for us, as a National institute, the investment stage is the next step in the development of our IT sector. The ultimate goal is free funds, and this is up to 30% of free investments that the Holding will annually invest in this direction, and there will be a win-win collaboration. That is, the market will receive available financial liquidity from the Holding, improving the quality of its products. Both entrepreneurs and the country as a whole benefit from the development of the IT segment.