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The Social Development Fund’s first experience in impact entrepreneurship – all systems nominal!

At the junction of technological progress and the latest technologies, new opportunities for the development of social projects are emerging. Business is beginning to respond to people’s needs, there are more and more social entrepreneurs who are eager to solve issues of concern to the population and contribute to the social good. The main thing for them is not superprofit, but social return – what impact they bring to society. After all, they create not just a project, but a whole mechanism that works effectively for the benefit of people.

The Social Development Fund of Nazarbayev University has been developing its activities in this direction for the second year. Therefore, the provision of support to social initiatives and innovations, gratuitous, financial, informational and organizational assistance to the target audience – continue to be priorities in the activities of the Fund.

The valuable and main capital of the Fund is a University with many years of accumulated knowledge and experience, students and graduates who apply their acquired skills in practice. Nazarbayev University annually graduates innovators with professional quality education. NU built an entire ecosystem for the development of innovations. Today it has become home to many research, educational and creative laboratories located in Schools, the National Laboratory Astana and the Nazarbayev University Research and Innovation System, which strengthen the University’s focus on scientific and research mission, as well as help to translate digital and technological ideas into real business projects. Also, since its opening, Nazarbayev University has taken a course on the development of green technologies. In order to promote a culture of respect for the environment and the development of environmental sustainability of the University, the Green Campus project was launched. Along with them and other platforms created to unlock the potential of NU students and graduates, the Social Development Fund is engaged in creating a favorable environment for the development of social ideas of NU students and graduates, supporting impact entrepreneurship.

The Social Development Fund promotes the growth of a new galaxy of managers, social entrepreneurs who strengthen the country’s economy and make an unbearable contribution to the public good. The Fund can be proud of the grant holders who, despite the restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, their main activities in terms of study and work, and other obligations, bring the implementation of their projects to the final stage. They have an impact on the lives of people around them, change their habits for the better, because impact is a measurable improvement in people’s lives obtained as a result of activity.

It should be noted that the initiatives implemented by the teams are aimed at solving a wide range of problems in the field of education, ecology, healthcare and assistance to socially vulnerable segments of the population.

So, thanks to Ozim application, parents of children with disabilities have access to high-quality and useful information on how to identify developmental disorders and what kind of help they can provide to children themselves, regardless of whether they live in a city or rural area.

A group of students of Nazarbayev University, having gathered an army of volunteers, opened the world-famous Khan Academy educational platform for Kazakh-speaking youth, translating its content into the state language, which increases the chances of entering universities and increasing the general level of knowledge among schoolchildren and students across the country.

And the Hello Aul project, which has been successfully implemented independently by NU graduates since 2016, thanks to a grant from the Fund, was able to translate the work format into an online format during the pandemic and open the doors to learning English to thousands of boys and girls from 14 regions of Kazakhstan. Today, more than ten thousand Kazakhstanis enjoy the benefits created by the grantees of the Social Development Fund. These projects, along with others implemented in 2021, showed how the Fund creates a supportive environment for grantees. Through training, monitoring, and the involvement of mentors and mentors, the Fund fulfills a special mission – to develop impact entrepreneurship. The Fund supports social initiatives of students and graduates of NU, which in turn have a positive impact on the life of Kazakhstanis as a whole.

The social projects supported by the Fund are gradually developing into social entrepreneurship. Yesterday’s already competent student, gradually participating in competitions from the Fund, begins to acquire additional skills. Thanks to these skills, they launch their own business, create new jobs, and work on further promotion of their work. After all, entrepreneurship requires certain skills and creativity.

By the way, 2021 turned out to be fruitful not only for current grantees, but also for new projects that received funding from the Fund. Last year, inspired by the results of the first social grants, the Fund implemented the Jas Social Impact program, which was attended by employees, students, graduates of NU, as well as graduates of NIS.  The winners of the program were 11 social projects totaling 10.9 million tenge and 4 social entrepreneurship projects that received funding in the amount of 5 million tenge each.

In recent years, environmental issues have come to the forefront. Therefore Kok Maisa project team is working to increase eco-awareness and eco-awareness of people, starting from school. After all, it is there that our habits and values are laid, which are successfully transferred to the family.

The target audience of Alaqan team is parents and their children. The team is confident that the formation of healthy habits in children affects their further development. To this end, they develop information resources for children and their parents.

There is more and more talk in the information space about improving a person’s financial literacy. Therefore, through regular podcast releases, FomoDoma provides Kazakhstanis with access to up-to-date and understandable information about personal finances and investments.

People with disabilities, first of all, should feel the support of society, Remisee team believes. Therefore, the team creates opportunities for people with various visual impairments to study science with the help of posters created with a unique tactile effect and using Braille.

As for the supported projects in the direction of social entrepreneurship, we note that this is a new page in the history of the Fund’s activities, because at the stage of involvement in the program, the teams position themselves as social entrepreneurs. The teams have gone a long way through selection with the involvement of internal and external experts.  JAS Camp provided an opportunity to strengthen projects and take them to a new level. The grantees in this direction are teams based on NU +1 principle, when a student or graduate of Nazarbayev University, together with an external specialist or an active social entrepreneur, implement an initiative in partnership.

Thanks to the activities of the existing Kishkentai project, high-quality children’s toys that contribute to the development of children appear on the market, and thanks to a grant from the Fund, the team will be able to automate its processes and enter a wider market, continuing to employ people with disabilities.

And the implementation of the OIKO project will launch for Kazakhstanis the first domestic children’s cosmetics with an environmentally friendly safe composition at an affordable price.

Due to the semi-finished products produced Senim project team will provide support in the employment and socialization of people with special needs.

And TILASHAR project team will help children who speak the state language to correct their speech disorders and develop intellectual abilities.

The Fund develops annually together with the teams, does not stop at the results achieved. As part of the development of a new direction on impact entrepreneurship, a series of webinars was held with such leading experts and successful social entrepreneurs as Rinad Temirbekov, Indira Shah and Emin Askerov. During JAS Camp, the Fund also attracted professionals from the fields of coaching, team management, communications and public speaking, financial modeling, impact assessment, design thinking, marketing and sales. Thanks to these meetings, the teams received feedback, support from mentors, and became more confident that they were moving in the right direction.

The Social Development Fund, also being the corporate fund of Nazarbayev University, implements projects aimed at supporting the academic environment for students and the alumni community, and the development of the faculty of NU. It is worth mentioning the Fund’s Support Program, which provides comprehensive assistance to NU students who find themselves in a difficult life situation. In particular, the Fund allocates funds for the nutrition of students from socially vulnerable segments of the population, access to the Internet, and expensive treatment for those who need it. In this way, the Fund creates a favorable environment for students to focus on their studies and self-development. And this is only part of the support measures provided by the Fund.

Today, the Fund is expanding the boundaries of its activities in an effort to be useful to the entire Kazakhstan society. As noted above, all projects are aimed at nurturing socially responsible leaders, as well as future entrepreneurs, for whom the fate of not only Kazakhstan, but also the whole world is important. The global impact brought by the Fund and its grantees is a whole mechanism for the development of a socially responsible community.

All this, along with the success of the grantees, helps the Fund to strengthen and expand its programs within the framework of the development of impact investment aimed at real social change, where the object is social entrepreneurship projects.

The Social Development Fund does not stop at the achieved indicators.  In 2022, the Fund, celebrating its 10th anniversary, intends to develop further in the direction of impact entrepreneurship, expand the potential of students and graduates of NU, increase the volume of grants and programs implemented, striving to benefit a wide range of people through contributions to the development of social projects and innovations that will certainly have a long-term impact on society.

In the near future, the JAS Social Impact 2022 program will be launched, where participants will be able to improve their entrepreneurial skills, strengthen the impact of their projects and receive grants to implement ideas or expand existing businesses. As last year, the Fund expands the circle of participants of the program, using the principle that anyone can join the team, where the leader is a representative of the NU community or a graduate of a NIS. The collection of applications is planned to be launched open on an ongoing basis, while consideration and selection for funding will take place at least twice a year. The terms of participation and more detailed information will soon be presented on the Fund’s website.