Kazakhstan Culture of Business

By | July 24, 2022

Subchapters:

  • Introduction
  • Addressing
  • Business Meeting
  • Communication
  • Recommendations
  • Public Holidays

Introduction

The Kazakh market has a very good potential, but it is necessary to take into account that entering it is complicated, expensive and especially time-consuming. When communicating with Kazakhs, we recommend giving preference to personal contact or a phone call. Knowledge of Russian is a basic condition for setting up effective business relations, as well as the services of a local representative/partner of the company.

Addressing

In Kazakhstan, the emphasis is on personal contact. Without a personal meeting, it is difficult to make significant progress in establishing business relations or negotiating a contract. In written form, it is more appropriate to choose a formal form, e.g. send a scanned letter by e-mail. Of the electronic forms of communication, mobile phones are used significantly more in the country (the most popular application is WhatsApp).

The standard way of arranging a meeting is a formal approach well in advance, followed by a phone call to the person in charge of organizing the meeting. Then arrange the date and place of the meeting with the person in question. About a week in advance to remind yourself. It is necessary to take into account the possibility of changing the place and time of the meeting at the last minute (including moving it to the evening hours).

The key task of preparing for a meeting is to find out which particular person makes sense to deal with. In the realities of Kazakhstan, there is a usual concentration of decision-making powers (not always in the formally highest position), the delegation of powers is not frequent. Especially in state and semi-state companies, it is possible to trace the basic principle, where the decision-making about the use of finances is concentrated with the CEO (man), while his assistant arranges all the work and operatives and is absolutely necessary for the smooth running of the project.

Business meeting

Kazakhs are predominantly Sunni Muslims. The importance of faith reinforces and displaces the earlier relaxed post-Soviet approach to the restrictions imposed by Islam. We do not recommend planning meetings with KZ partners during Ramadan, which is observed by more and more Kazakhs. Likewise, it is not advisable to direct the meeting to Friday noon/early afternoon. Working hours start at about half past ten, the lunch break lasts over an hour, but on the other hand, people often work until late in the evening. Toward the south of the country, the approach to business changes and takes on significantly more sophisticated forms, often based on Persian influences. Among the national minorities of Kazakhstan, the way of conducting negotiations can differ considerably, which is noticeable in the north of the country among the Russian minority. A specific category is the capital Nur-Sultan, which is basically the newly built administrative center of the country, which serves as the main place for the distribution of finances obtained from the extraction of oil and minerals. The management of semi-state companies, which are characterized by a directive approach to decision-making, are concentrated in it. In the southern part of the country, including the largest city of Kazakhstan, Almaty, the presence of the private sector and the existence of a tradition of trade and services is much more noticeable.

  • PaulSourcing: Tips and recommendations for doing business with Kazakhstan. Also includes country basic data and information for entering the its market.

Negotiations with the Kazakhs differ in many ways from Central European customs. It is definitely not recommended to show weakness, e.g. asking for an understanding of the KZ partner in relation to the situation and accepting a change in conditions. It is not advisable to overestimate possible expressions of friendship (sometimes associated with joint consumption of alcohol), as well as the impact of a situation where, according to our understanding, the KZ partner should be obliged to you. A frequent source of misunderstanding is the situation when the KZ partner tests the possibilities of the foreign partner during negotiations by changing key parameters, such as the possibility of increasing deliveries by 10 times, etc. In such a case, it is advisable to react neutrally and request the provision of the given proposal in writing. KZ partners prepare for negotiations mainly in terms of finding out who they will be negotiating with, much less then they find out about issues, associated with the technical parameters of the goods/services offered. Negotiations are facilitated if the head of the Czech team is a man. The presence of the CEO or top management representative on the Czech side is important during key negotiations. The technically focused team should be covered by a business manager from the company’s management. Older age is perceived more respectfully, however, with the arrival of a young and educated generation, greater age equality is beginning to be asserted.

Meeting place : If the meeting takes place in the office, it can be a purely formal meeting, if the KZ party proposes a meeting in other premises, it is often a positive signal and a significant move forward. As for offering alcohol during the meeting, it depends a lot on the nationality and religiosity of the partner, however, if the meeting takes place in an administrative building, this is not customary. If there is a meeting in a restaurant, then while in some cases it is almost required, in others an orthodox Muslim would consider it an insult. We recommend leaving this question up to the decision of the partner, whose decision will also greatly influence whether the KZ party participates alone or if several people are present. In general, alcohol consumption in the country is decreasing, but Czech beer continues to enjoy considerable popularity. Only if a long-term cooperation is established, an invitation to the home can occur.

Dress code: The dress code is similar to that in the Czech Republic, ladies should choose more conservative clothes, especially when meeting in the south of the country.

Business cards : In particular, KZ employees of the state administration do not like to provide their business cards, on the other hand, they will expect you to provide your contacts (business card).

Exchange of gifts: Regarding the exchange of gifts, it is good to prepare for this possibility, but rather leave the initiation of the exchange of gifts to the KZ side, or rather monitor whether the KZ side expects a unilateral gift from you.

Communication

The language of communication is Russian, English significantly less so. If you are not fluent in Russian, the presence of an interpreter is necessary. When communicating with the state administration, it is sometimes necessary to draft documents in Kazakh. With a long-term presence, it is better if communication with end customers is handled by a local representative. Visit Animalerts for more information about Kazakhstan culture and traditions.

When communicating with Kazakhs, we recommend giving preference to personal contact or a phone call. Email communication is given less importance, although this is gradually changing. All electronic or written communication should aim to achieve a personal meeting. The first meeting will usually take place in Kazakhstan, then it is advisable to invite partners to the Czech Republic.

As far as communication taboos are concerned, it is clearly not appropriate to criticize the state establishment in Kazakhstan and especially the person of the country’s first president, Nursultan Nazarbaev. Furthermore, we recommend avoiding opening political issues, such as relations between NATO and Russia, with which KZ shares a significant part of its history and, for example, the victory in World War II is one of the sources of national pride. The topics of Islamic extremism and Borat movies are also sensitive.

Recommendation

If you are going, especially for the first time, to Kazakhstan for the purpose of business, it is necessary to find out as much information as possible about local partners, especially about their relations with the government administration. It is almost essential to have a local representative/partner to deal with end customers. Prepare for the fact that the period from the first contacts to the signing of the contract will most often last two years. Paying increased attention to the payment conditions, in the case of acceptance of the retention fee (payment of the most often the last 10% of the amount after the fulfillment of the specified conditions – the expiration of time, etc.) unfortunately, the experience of Czech companies points to the frequent non-payment of the given amount. Even after the contract is signed, nothing is certain until the first payment is made. Cooperation will require ongoing contact and review. Kazakhstan is characterized by the presence of corruption, which results, among other things, from the considerable influence of the state in the economy.

When dealing with the state and semi-state sphere, support from the embassy is a plus for establishing the first contacts. The presence of an embassy representative helps in the first formal meetings, on the other hand it leads local partners to be more careful. Our embassy, ​​as far as possible, provides support in negotiations with the state administration in justified cases. We also organize a number of different activities, in addition to supporting participation in fairs, organizing forums, business missions, as well as, for example, presenting specific companies at meetings in the regions of the country.

Public Holidays

Below is a list of Kazakh holidays:

  • 1.-2. January – New Year
  • March 8 – International Women’s Day
  • 21st-23rd March – Nauryz Mejrama (Spring/New Year’s Day)
  • May 1 – Day of Unity of the People of Kazakhstan
  • May 7 – Defender of the Fatherland Day May 9 – Victory Day
  • July 6 – Nur-Sultan Capital City Day
  • August 30 – Day of the Constitution of the KZ
  • December 1 – First President’s Day
  • December 16 – Independence Day

By decision of the Parliament of the Republic of Croatia, the beginning of the Muslim holiday “Kurbanajt” was also declared a holiday. Since it is a holiday whose date is determined by the lunar calendar, this holiday is movable.

Orthodox Christmas is celebrated on January 7, and it is also a non-working day.

Often, additional free days are added to some important holidays, by decision of the president or the government, or various transfers are made.

It is advisable to find out in good time how exactly the days off from work will be specifically determined for the given year: HERE.

Usual working hours in state and other institutions are from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sales hours in grocery stores are from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., in consumer goods stores from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. In larger cities, operated a sufficient number of basic food stores with round-the-clock operation.

Kazakhstan Culture of Business