On August 14 in Almaty, Kazakhstan, the MOST Business Incubator in partnership with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Qaztech Ventures JSC launched a series of events called 1 Million Cups Almaty (1MC) 

50 startups applied, but only the three whose concepts came closest to the theme of Sustainable Tourism were selected. 

“Applications for participation came to us right up to the day of the event,” said Alim Khamitov, director of the MOST Business Incubator.  

Furthermore, about 100 audience members attended the first 1MC event, most of them founders and heads of small businesses, or representatives of the state and non-governmental sectors, directly or indirectly related to tourism. 

According to Kalibek Akylbekov, head of Tourism Department of Akimat of Almaty, the rapidly developing tourism in Kazakhstan touches upon more than 16 sectors of the economy: “In 2018, more than 1 million tourists visited our city, and one third of them were foreigners. That is a 12% increase,” he added.  

The 1MC format was developed by the Ewing Marion Kaufman Foundation in 2012 as a free platform designed to educate, engage and stimulate US businessmen.  

Alim Khamitov believes that the interest from startups was caused by the uniqueness of this meeting format. 

“As part of the project, we invite startups from Central Asian countries to take an active participation” he said. 

1MC Almaty is the first of the three blocks of the ImpactTech Accelerator project in Central Asia, which is being facilitated by the MOST Business Incubator in partnership with ADB and Qaztech Ventures. The second block, Startup Safari Almaty Open House Day, will explore the city’s startup ecosystem. The third is the ImpactTech Accelerator Acceleration Program which will support startups through training, mentoring, and access to finance. 

“We have chosen the MOST Business Incubator as one of the best accelerators in the region,” said Yerlan Khasenbekov, private sector development consultant, ADB representative office in Kazakhstan. 

With the support of MOST Business Incubatorthe ADB will provide up to US$ 15,000 of grant financing for startups. After completing the Acceleration Program, the most sustainable startups with growth potential will gain access to further financing (up to US$ 200,000) as well as the ADB affiliate network.  

The best technological solutions will be published on the website, which will allow teams to receive funds for piloting the product and services, as well as scaling up to other regions.