Friday, November 15, 2013

Doing business in Kazakhstan

As an indicator of what it will be like to do business here, I've now learned the word in Russian for notary. нотариус Why? Because there are more notaries per square inch than there are Starbucks in Seattle. You cannot believe how many notaries there are!

Allegedly documents need not only signatures but they also need to be stamped - and each company, no matter how large or small -- is issued *one* stamp.  

There is automation, but much more in the way of manual processing of information.  I heard from the national government today that companies give them information in a paper format that gets sent to their office in Almaty where it is then transcribed by a human.  (I guess we can still do this for our federal income taxes, but how tedious!)  Or another example: when I was checking in for my flight from Almaty to Astana, I had to pay for a second bag...which required me to take my boarding pass to another counter, pay for the baggage in cash, get a handwritten note on my boarding pass that I'd paid, and then return to the original counter to get my passport back and my bags tagged.  

Also different from in the US: when employees are hired they negotiate their net pay only.  Employers pay all of the taxes and benefits for each employee directly to the government.  It seems that people do not generally know what their gross salary is, only the net.  

Meetings are scheduled by cellphone and/or text message.  Maybe we will find out this is different after time in-country, but it doesn't seem like voicemail is common - you either get a live person or you send a text message.

Would you prefer to never have to check your voicemail? It could be nice...

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