On Day Two of the TechWomen visit to Kazakhstan, delegates spent their morning with representatives from the U.S. consulate in Almaty before leading a collaborative afternoon of innovation-focused presentations and mentorship sessions at MOST Business Incubator.
The morning briefing kicked off with remarks from the Consul General, followed by briefings on the state of U.S.- Kazakhstan relations. The attendees were introduced to current and relevant U.S. initiatives being implemented in Kazakhstan with a focus on economic, technological and gender-inclusive advancement and collaboration. These presentations and adiscussions were led by representatives of the Economic section, the Foreign Commercial Service and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The delegation then headed to MOST Business Incubator to bring local entrepreneurs an afternoon of pitch training and mentorship executed in collaboration with Techno Women, a nonprofit platform led by female entrepreneurs who work to advance the status of Central Asian women and girls by encouraging them to reach their full potential.
Welcome remarks were delivered by Kazkah fellow Zharkyn Chsheglova and Assem Nurgaliyeva, co-founder of Techno Women, followed by a keynote speech from mentor Tina Shakour.
“You’re going to be misunderstood when you take your ideas out into the world,” Tina explained. “But understand that part of the power of women is that we can support each other. We know this. We are good at that. We can stand down that criticism, those barriers, those attitudes …and support each other to be fearless, take chances and innovate.”
Fellow Bermet Dosmambetova of Kyrgyzstan then gave a talk on the startup ecosystem in Central Asia before introducing a pitch workshop led by mentors Meg Gordon and Debbie Whaley. “When making a pitch, you are drawing someone a map,” Meg illustrated. “You don’t want to make them guess what is important or why something is exciting. You just want to help them get there, step-by-step.”
Following these enlightening addreses, delegates engaged local entrepreneurs in a half-hour speed mentoring session.
Shortly thereafter, the various local innovators took to the stage to present their curated live pitches. This was followed by a question and answer period and closing remarks from fellow Anzurat Kosimova of Tajikistan.
After a break for networking and refreshments, the audience reconvened for the Silicon Valley Symposium. Welcome marks were provided by Kazkah fellow and emcee Zhanara Izimova, along with Assel Marchenko, CTO of Halyk Finance, and Sydney Plunkett of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). These short introductions were directly followed by an insightful keynote address from mentor Sandy Chen.
“If I don’t see the representation, then I’ll be the representation,” Sandy declared during her keynote. “[I’ll] be the voice in the room when that other woman is not, use my power to bring others opportunities, [and] be the female leader I so often sought out in my career and life.”
Sandy then introduced the next segment of the event, featuring lightening talks from four TechWomen mentors.
Alexa Barnes kicked off the program with “Hot topics in Silicon Valley,” emphasizing that “there’s room for innovation [and] there’s room to improve all different types of technology, no matter what industry you’re in.”
Mentors Mimi Hills, Cora Lam and Shawne Van Deusen-Jeffries followed up with lightning talks entitled, “Anyone Can Be a Leader”, “Mentoring for Impact” and “Building a Personal Brand,” respectively.
“You have to consider not just what you communicate, but how you communicate,” Mimi advised. “Leadership is not management. If you want to inspire people, you have to tell them why.”
To close out the enriching afternoon, the delegation heard from mentor Kathy Giori. “In life, it’s not the taking of riches from others, but rather the giving and supporting of others that provides long-lasting fulfillment,” Kathy concluded, commending the delegates and attendees for their generosity of spirit demonstrated throughout the day’s events.
After the formal events came to a close, the delegates and entrepreneurs took time to network and connect while enjoying the stunning mountain views of Almaty.