Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Kazakhstan - An Emerging Business Hub

Kazakhstan is a country in Central Asia which is the world's largest landlocked country by land area and the ninth largest country in the world. The last Soviet republic declared its independence on 16th December 1991 and now it is considered as an Emerging Business Hub acting as a route between China and major parts of Europe. Also, the country is rich in mineral resources having wide range of metallic ores, industrial minerals and fuels. Kazakhstan has therefore become strategically and economically a region to watch for doing business for multinational companies.

Astana City - Capital of Kazakhstan
The country has one of the strongest economy in Central Asia. The major area of business which has been responsible for Kazakhstan's strong economic expansion over the last decade is oil and gas sector. Opening itself to the international business and increase in the inflow of foreign investments in oil and mining industry in Kazakhstan has certainly made it more stronger and economically stable than other central asian countries, but where does it stand in the global ranking for doing business.

According to the report from "The World Bank for Doing Business in Kazakhstan", the country is ranked 77 out of 189 nations which are part of the research which is carried out by the world bank.

In 2014, the global foreign direct investment decreased by 8%, however Kazakhstan saw an increase in FDI.

Although there is continuous flow of foreign direct investment in the country mainly in the oil and mining sectors, the overall ranking for the ease of doing business in Kazakhstan has not improved.

So lets see some of the main factors considered by the world bank for the purpose of ease of doing business ranking and their movement from year 2014 to 2015.

For registering a property to carry out business in Kazakhstan, doing business ranks Kazakhstan at 14 for year 2015 which was increased by 4 points from 2014. Registration of property in Kazakhstan was made easy by the government, by introducing effective time limits and an expedited procedure which thus has resulted in the improvement in the rank for registering the property in Kazakhstan.

However at the same time, paying taxes which is another factor considered by the world bank for Doing Business report shows that it has become more complicated for companies to pay taxes in Kazakhstan as they have introduced a mandatory contribution to the National Chamber of Entrepreneurs and also increased the vehicle and environmental taxes.

But, Kazakhstan is still far better than Europe, Central Asia and OECD nations regarding the tax to be paid as the total tax to be paid in Kazakhstan by a company is 28.6% whereas for Europe and Central Asia its 34.9% and for OECD nations, its 41.3%. And with the further reduction in duty and taxes in Kazakhstan, it is sure that the ranking will improve in the years to come.

Another important factor generally taken into consideration by the multinational companies during setup of the business is trading across borders. Out of 189 countries in the list, Kazakhstan ranks at 185. Although the ranking has improved by a point, it still is hard for trading across border in Kazakhstan. According to the data from Doing Business report, it takes around 79 days to export the goods and 67 days to import the goods. With new changes and developments coming up in Kazakhstan, like decrease in the export rates, opening up of new border station and railway link to help reduce the congestion at the border with China, this ranking is surely believed to improve.

Kazakhstan government made is easy to resolve the insolvency by clarifying and simplifying provisions on liquidation and reorganization, introducing the concept of creditors' meetings, expanding the rights of creditors during the settlement works, Due to this, it has moved up in the ranking from 82 to 63.

Some of the other factors considered by doing business report with the ranking comparison for year 2014 and 2015 have been shown in the figure below.

The ranking changes on the basis of continuous evaluation and analysis from the world bank. With continuous improvements and new developments in the plans, policies and market reforms, the ranking for Kazakhstan is certain to go up. Although there are some challenges to Kazakhstan's development like currency devaluation, cross border conflicts, falling oil prices, the mineral and oil rich country is opening up and attracting more investments into the country.

Expo 2017 in Astana is one of the example where lot of international businesses are expected to participate. This will also boost the investment climate in Kazakhstan. With Kazakhstan's 2030 strategy for development, many reforms are expected in the country regarding security, economic growth based on open market economy with high level of foreign direct investments, utilization of mineral resources and development of infrastructure.

So, the direction on which Kazakhstan is moving, it definitely is one of the "Emerging Business hub" in the region and an area of interest of the international companies wanting to invest in Kazakhstan.

Full report available in 

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Sunday, April 19, 2015

"Quick Response - Better Customer Satisfaction''

"The customer don't care how much you know until they know how much you care" - Damon Richards

In today's internet driven market, when a "Customer" says they want it, they want it anyhow. The customers have more power these days than ever before. And as world wide web continues to evolve over time, the crucial factor for the success of any business is the way they connect to their customers be it current or prospective. The number 1 thing that the customer want from any business these days is fast response.

Customers don't mind if it is communication done through email, or any platforms of social medias present, the only thing that they expect is the end result to their query or request. In present world of ever developing e-commerce and social media scenario, customers have many options and if their query are not timely answered or attended, then the company better be ready to lose them. According to the research carried out by helpscout, the reward that businesses will receive from the timely and good support to the customer query is shown in the diagram below.

The diagram clearly shows the importance of better customer service and the result for the same. As per the research, 80% of people are willing to pay more for the better service and 78% of the customers would recommend a brand to other people, if they get a better customer service from the company. And one of the key ingredient to better customer service is quick and timely response to the customer query.

The longer the response time, harder it is to retain the customer. According to Jay Baer, founder of, 42% of people who interacts with the companies expect replies from them within 1 hour time and 25% of the people expect it within the same day.

This shows how important the response rate is and how customers respond to them. The major differentiating factor in any business would be customer satisfaction, and that can come from the timely and quick response to the customer complaints and query. 

However, does this mean that the brand representatives become very quick in responding to the customer with useless solutions or answer. The answer is NO. Depending upon the situation, the company can respond. For the matters that takes time discussing, just a one liner reply saying, "we have well received your query and we will get back to you as soon as possible"will atleast keep the customer calm. There should be no useless answers which will make the situation even worse. The worst being not responding at all.

Social Media is just taken as a means of marketing for products and services, but there are much more things to consider when you use social media. The company should be prepared for the volumes of query and complaints that they might receive regarding their products and cleverly and tactically use it for the promotion of the business. They should be aware of the outcome of non responsiveness to the query of the customers regarding their products and services. 

The point is pretty much simple and straight that the customers these days are willing to pay something extra for good customer service with added values provided to them and those companies which provide quick response for their complaints and query will enjoy these rewards. 

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Farmers in Derivative Markets: A Helping Hand!

Nepal is an agro-dominated economy wherein 35% of the total GDP is contributed from this sector. 

Rice fields in Changu Narayan village in Nepal.
According to the latest data from the World Bank, 28-30% of the total land of Nepal is cultivable. Keeping in mind the scope and the potential of the agricultural sector in an economy such as ours, how can a derivative market benefit the farmer’s productivity levels?

With each passing year, the farmers in Nepal are facing various obstacles from the market. From various studies conducted on a domestic and international front, monstrous hiking of the prices from the middlemen remains the predominant factor. A farmer produces their produce at a certain cost. But when the middleman gets their hands on these products, the price is inflated to unimaginable levels. In short- these middlemen are not providing the right prices for the produce when the product reaches the consumers.

The case of black cardamom furnishes the best example. Poor farmers are compelled to sell their products at much lower rates immediately after the harvest, when the general scenario is just the opposite. 

Nepal, despite being the world’s largest exporters of cardamom, has not been able to reap the benefit out of the immense potentiality. Lack of proper knowledge among the farming community has been the major hurdle and thereby, the middlemen are taking advantage of this scenario. So, what can a derivative market contribute to make this market a thriving one is a big question.

The derivative markets of Nepal should start with few basic steps. Firstly, the lack of knowledge among the farming community remains the major hurdle. In this regards, the farmers can be directed to trade their agricultural products in the derivative market so that they can get the right price  rather than selling their hard produced crops at lower prices. But, given the current practices, is it possible?

According to Integrated Regional Information Networks, commonly known as IRIN, agriculture in Nepal is facing problems due to under investment, lack of research and usage of obsolete technologies in the sector. Also, decline in the resource allocation from government from 3.7 percent of total government spending 10 years ago to 2.6 percent in year 2013 in the agricultural sector has hampered the development of the agricultural sector. If those cultivable lands are used again by educating the farmers about the long term benefits, then they will not need any loans or any other financial support. By educating farmers, the derivative market can also provide avenues for the enhancement of the economy.

The day is not far when a farmer from a corner in our economy, confidently stores his produce in a warehouse and proceeds to the exchange to auction it. But the question arises-When? 

Written by: Shristy Shakya

The article was published in The Himalayan Times on 28th December, 2014. Link to the article

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Sunday, February 9, 2014

Dubai - A City of Endless Business Opportunities

Dubai, situated on the Persian Gulf coast of the United Arab Emirates with 4,110 square kilometer of land area is a city of endless experiences. It is not wrong to say that the city has emerged as " A Land of Opportunities" with its vibrant economy making it as a major business center with dynamic and diversified business environment.

Changing itself over the last three decades, Dubai's credential as the place to do business has been supported with its new ranking naming it the third "most dynamic" city after San Francisco and London (Source: City Momentum Index - Jones Lang Lasalle). With the growth that Dubai is currently going through and the highest standard of comfort and luxury being offered by the city, the business activities are certain to grow even more in the years to come.

Ease of Doing Business

Dubai has been gaining momentum in its economy and is being considered as the third most dynamic city for doing business. Lets see how the business regulations and its enforcement in United Arab Emirates supports the ease of doing business in this region. Dubai's economy enjoys a competitive combination of cost, market and environmental advantages that has created an attractive investment climate for the locals as well as the expatriates. 

With new firms entering into Dubai's market, innovative products and creation of job opportunities have contributed Dubai to become a prosperous city in the region. "Doing Business 2014" - A co-publication of The World Bank and the International Finance Corporation, have ranked UAE at 23rd place for Ease of doing business out of 189 economies by taking into consideration various key business indicators.

So what are the economic and the business indicators that are considered by the World Bank for ranking. The procedures, time taken for starting a business, access to electricity, loans, taxes, rights of the investors are some of them which are mainly focused by the World Bank and IFC. The diagram below shows where UAE stands in the individual indicators ranking. 

The comparative analysis of the indicators for year 2013 and 2014 show how much improvements have been done by UAE in one year. What are the reforms made by UAE that helped it climb three places up to 23rd in year 2014?
  • Getting Electricity - Eliminated the need for the site inspection and reduced the time for providing the new connection. 
  • Registering Property - Increased the operation hours of the land registry and reduced the transfer fee. 
  • Protecting Investors - Introduced greater disclosure requirements for related party transaction and made it possible to sue the directors, when any of such transaction harm the company. 
The country is making improvements to invite more foreign investments and make the country prosper. Some of the areas where UAE is improving in order to go up in the ranking for Ease of doing Business as per Doing Business Index are: 
  • UAE is ranked 100th in enforcing contracts (moving one rank up from 2013) taking 524 days to resolve a dispute, counted from the momentum the plaintiff files the lawsuit in the court until payment. Luxembourg is ranked number 1 in enforcing contracts. 
  • UAE is ranked 101st in resolving insolvency (moving one rank up from 2013) taking 3.2 years to finish the settlement for closing a business. 
With continuous improvements in its economic reforms and regulations, Dubai is definitely a hub for the investors to do business. Among the Middle East & North African (MENA) region, UAE is ranked at the top in Doing Business Index.

This makes Dubai the most preferred place to do business in the MENA region. It would not be any surprise that we will be seeing Dubai at first place for Dynamic City in City Momentum Index in some years now. To get more detailed insight on starting a Business in UAE, you can check the report from World Bank " Doing Business in UAE"

As rightly said by many people, "Dubai - A City of Endless Experiences and The Land of Opportunities".
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Sunday, February 2, 2014

3 Unique & Interesting Musical Instruments

Listening to a song, ever wondered which instrument was used for the arrangement. Amazing instruments, great music and innovation, what else do we need then. As a painter expresses his/her feelings through the painting with a feeling of vibrancy and depth of it in the canvas, musicians do the same by expressing their emotions in the form of music they play.

Music is not merely playing an instrument. One should realize that its a feeling that passes through the ear and energizes the mind and heart, before it is expressed in any human form of emotion. There are different varieties of instruments that help us do it, and to the amazement some of them are really unique and interesting. Let's have a look at some of these instruments.


This unique instrument was developed by Felix Rohner and Sabina Scharer in 2000, it is 52 cm in diameter and has a height of 24 cm. The musical instrument is an outcome of the result of many years of research on the steel pan and other instruments and is still going through continuous development.

It is a hand played instrument with a pleasing and unique sound. The developer PANArt Hang Manufacturing Ltd no longer offers this instrument and has replaced it by a new instrument developed on the basis of Hang called Gubal. Lets have a look at the video of an artist playing Hang. 

Well, I believe you guys liked the sound as well as the playing. Sad to say that the company has replaced it with Gubal from start of 2014. Hope Gubal will be in more demand and popular than the Hang.


Theremin originally known as etherphone is an early electronic musical instrument developed by Russian inventor Leon Theremin. It is a very unique instrument, there is no physical contact between the instrument player (Thereminist) and the instrument. It produces sound by generating electromagnetic fields around two antenna, where the straight vertical antenna controls the pitch and the horizontal curved antennae controls the volume.

Thereminist's precise hand movement is a key in controlling the pitch and the volume for the performance. Since the release of the film Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey in 1994, more people know about it resulting in the growth of its use in the contemporary music scene. 

With no complicated chords and fingerings, the instrument might looks easy to play, but many musicians who have tried it felt that it was one of the hardest instrument to play, as it is creating music in air with precise hand movement which is not easy to master.


Technology is advancing day by day and almost all of us are aware of the popular stylus. Its a computer accessory that is used to assist in navigating or providing more precision when using touchscreens. Now, what is unique about stylophone? must be a question in your mind. It is a miniature analog stylus operated keyboard developed by Brian Jarvis in 1967.

It consists of small metal keyboard, which produces sound when the circuit is completed by touching it with the stylus pen. However it can also be operated without the stylus. Lets have a look at one of the interesting video made by Cuckoo playing the Stylophone.

If you like the music, you can listen to more of his work at his youtube channel  Its very interesting how he plays the instrument.

Innovation has led to development of new and progressive musical instruments and we are yet to see more of them. If you have some more instruments in mind, please share it in the comments as I would love to know about them.

Keep exploring, Keep Playing.

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