EBRD know-how helps Kazakhstan's Sesam Eco go international

By Anna  Wilson

The EBRD has helped Kazakhstan’s Sesam Eco, a company which uses traditional methods to produce vegetable oils, to draw up effective plans for sales and marketing to expand at home and abroad.

The EBRD connected Sesam Eco with a local marketing and strategy consultant, Cortex Company TOO, in a project funded by the Kazakh government.

The consultant analysed Sesam Eco’s current sales and marketing system, and conducted market research on the oil markets in Kazakhstan and Russia, as well as Sesam Eco’s own client base, sales and most significant opportunities.

“We want to be a market leader for cold-pressed oils across the region,” said the company’s director, Baurzhan Zhanataev.

“Cold-pressed oil, because of the higher quality and more complex production process, is often just part of the more expensive, higher end of the market. But we produce oil in plastic bottles as well.

“We want our oils to be for everyone, but we knew we needed professional advice on how best to communicate that, especially in new markets.”

Good health starts with good ingredients, Mr Zhanataev believes. The company produces vegetable oils via the traditional cold press method – the method he swears is the most effective for preserving the nutrients, and therefore the goodness, in the oils.

“Many companies use chemical and thermal methods to extract the oil these days, which is cheaper,” explained Mr Zhanataev. “But we believe in the well-proven tradition of cold squeezing to preserve the healing and restorative properties. It’s not just for food; our oils can be used for massage, cosmetics and other external healing factors as well.”

Whether it is linseed, peanut, sea buckthorn, sesame, pumpkin, grapeseed or walnut oil, Sesam Eco produced more than 30 tonnes of vegetable oil in 2013, sourcing raw materials from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan and selling them across Kazakhstan and Russia, primarily to pharmaceutical distribution companies and retail chains under the brand name “Bonne”.

Sesam Eco also has its own laboratories, and is conducting research into regionalising many of their raw materials so they can be grown locally in Kazakhstan. Their most recent success in this is black cumin, which they are about to start cultivating on a commercial scale in Trans-Ili Alatau.

Mr Zhanataev has big plans for the company, and export expansion is planned to neighbouring markets, as well as to new distribution channels in Kazakhstan. But for this plan to be effective, Sesam Eco needs to re-evaluate their sales and marketing approach.

Now, the challenge is for Sesam Eco to develop, with the consultant’s help, a marketing and sales plan for 2014, and to put in place the internal resources and procedures to deliver it.

Sir Suma Chakrabati, the EBRD’s President, toured Sesam Eco during his visit to Kazakhstan last month. In addition to high level discussions on EBRD collaboration with the Government of Kazakhstan to drive forward reform and investment in the country, the President met several businesses which have worked with the EBRD.

“The EBRD has a strong mandate to support the private sector in Kazakhstan, including small and medium-sized enterprises,” said Sir Suma. “Whenever I visit Kazakhstan, I am always deeply impressed with the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation that I encounter, and Sesam Eco provides an excellent example of both.”

The EBRD Small Business Support team has been helping small and medium-sized businesses in Kazakhstan access advice since 1998, and in that time has helped over 1,000 enterprises to grow their businesses.

In 2013, the Government of Kazakhstan for the first time became a donor to Small Business Support, funding a three-year programme that will help over 400 enterprises access business advice through local consultants.

Sesam Eco is one of the first enterprises to benefit from this new funding.

Contact: Tatyana Svyatkina

Tel: +7 (777) 1547700
+7 (7172) 580204 (103)

Email: svyatkit@ebrd.com