The partnership has the ambition of making Astana a main startup hub for Central Asia and Caucasus.
Fintech Stars, a virtual acceleration growth program for startups, powered by Seedstars, the AIFC and MOST, was announced on a press conference on Wednesday, 14th of February 2018, at RCI “Central Communications Service” – Ministry of Information and Communication of the Republic of Kazakhstan, (4D Kunayev street, Astana). During the press conference, Igor Ovcharenko, Seedstars Business Developer, Asel Zhienbaeva, Chief Digital Officer at the AIFC and Alim Khamitov, COO of MOST, explained and officially outset this program that aims to accelerate the growth of 10 fintech, insurtech and e-commerce startups, six from Kazakhstan and four from other countries in Central and Eastern Europe [CEE] by exposing them to a world-class on-demand education and mentorship opportunity.
In the beginning of FinTech Stars, every startup receives an investment of $20k and a three months intensive acceleration course that includes 1:1 mentoring with Seedstars members and other worldwide known experts from different areas; webinars and resources; logistic support and registration; branding, visibility opportunities and other in kind services and perks. These startups are also eligible for follow up investment in up to $300k after the program, from Seedstars Investor Club, Association of business-angels of MOST and partners, depending on their success, acceleration and growth perspectives.
In order to apply to the program startups need to comply to five selection criteria: operate in one of the three key sectors (fintech, insurtech, e-commerce), have regional/international scalability potential, a minimum of $5k monthly revenue (or significant traction), profitable unit economics and a strong team of entrepreneurs behind.
Startups from FinTech Stars have access to a working space with full logistics for 3 months; incorporation support from the AIFC; $20K cash to concentrate on the program as a full timer, 12+ regional fly-in experts who will lead mentorship sessions and webinars, access to Seedstars platforms, events, coworking spaces and innovation labs around the world, help with finding clients in Kazakhstan and CEE region, prime access to network and opportunity to get funding from external venture capitalists, access to MOST platform and events and a lot of chances for networking and visibility.
For Kazakhstan and Astana in particular, this is a great opportunity to have more than 24+ entrepreneurs stationed in the area, that will create a bridge between the country and all other startups ecosystems in the world. Seedstars’ alumni grow fast and create jobs, so this is also an opportunity to enlarge job opportunities in Kazakhstan, followed by expansion to other Central Asian countries.
“They tried to bury us, they didn’t know we were seeds.” – Mexican proverb
Seedstars is a Swiss based group with the mission to impact people’s lives in emerging markets through technology and entrepreneurship. Seedstars connects stakeholders, builds companies from scratch with public and private partners and invests in high growth startups within these ecosystems. Through different activities, that range from startup scouting to company building and acceleration programs, the team has built the most powerful network of entrepreneurs, investors, incubators, corporations and government officials from 65+ fast growing economies around the globe. Seedstars group includes Seedstars World, a worldwide startup competition, sourcing the top talent in technology and entrepreneurship in emerging markets; Seedstars Growth, a three month virtual acceleration program; Seedspace, a network of coworking and co-living spaces now in 35+ countries and Seedstars Academy, a six months intensive training for aspiring local entrepreneurs on how to build sustainable businesses. Some of Seedstars main partners are Enel (Energy), HEG Fribourg & Trecc (Education), BBVA (Finance), Tag Heuer (Fempreneurship and Innovation) and Merck KGaA (Health).
Seedstars Growth is a three month program to support and accelerate top entrepreneurs in specific industries (sourced through Seedstars World competition & Seedspace networks) to stimulate their growth by being exposed to world-class on-demand education and mentorship.
ABOUT ASTANA INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL CENTRE (AIFC)
The Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) is a financial free zone located in Astana, Kazakhstan.
In December 2015, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, signed the Constitutional Law on the establishment of the Astana International Financial Center (AIFC). The purpose of the AIFC is to form a leading center of financial services of an international level. For the first time in the post-Soviet space, the principles of English law will be introduced: the official language of the financial center will be English. The AIFC’s tasks are to assist in attracting investments in the country’s economy by creating an attractive environment for investing in financial services, developing the securities market of the Republic of Kazakhstan, ensuring its integration with international capital markets. The AIFC also intends to develop in the country the market of insurance, banking services, the market of Islamic financing and market of financial technologies.
MOST is the platform for complex support of the beginning entrepreneurs including training, mentoring, and access to capital. The organization is the first commercial incubator in Almaty. The main objective is to fully support the entrepreneurs and whole ecosystem which will lead to the country’s economic growth and society well-being. In order to achieve it, MOST uses several formats: organization of diverse entrepreneurship events (Startup Weekends, Hackathons, conferences, Meetups, and discussion panels), acceleration program for startups, online educational system for entrepreneurs, online media resource, and web-service for investors/business-angels/venture funds.
MOST has four main products for delivery to the market:
- Acceleration program for startups – program of complex support of the beginning entrepreneurs including training, mentoring, expertise, and access to capital.
- Most.School – online educational platform for young entrepreneurs which provides an access to unique knowledge of hot topics in various formats: courses on startup development, articles on business and startup subjects, information on current competitions and grants opportunities, library of knowledge (video/documents/collection of useful links).
- Most.Media – online media resource which provides valuable information on business, investments, startups, and entrepreneurship in the form of analytics, interviews, market insights and reviews.
- Association of business-angels – a platform for investors/business-angels and startups. When joining the association an investor gets access not only to the carefully selected projects and legal services but also to investors’ community who are always ready to back up the project with both financial and networking resources so that the projects which raised the money with the club get sufficient business development.
MOST is well-known organization in Kazakhstan and is perceived as the platform of opportunities for personal and professional growth, especially, in business.