The project “Laboratories in rural areas” is aimed at supporting businesses in 34 more district centers of Kazakhstan

In Kazakhstan, there is a large gap in access to quality services for residents of large cities and rural areas. This gap also exists in access to the services of private medical laboratory rooms, in which, unlike public hospitals, up to 800 types of tests can be passed. For one fifth of all villagers of Kazakhstan, which is about one and a half million people, such services are not available within the settlement of their residence.

The Sustainable Rural Development Fund (hereinafter - SRDF), with the support of AITAS Holding, in partnership with Olymp CDL and INVIVO, in May 2021, initiated the project “Laboratories in Rural Areas”, which aims to open biomaterial drawing points in those district centers where they are absent. SRDF’s analysis of the availability of private diagnostic laboratory rooms in all rural district centers showed that at that time in mid-2021, there were no private laboratory rooms in more than 50 out of 164 rural districts and small towns.
“Initially, our Fund issued a grant in Katon-Karagai district of East Kazakhstan region for the opening of biomaterial drawing points, as laboratory rooms are officially called, in Ulken Naryn and Katon-Karagai villages. We have seen how the presence of such laboratory rooms in district centers remote from large cities is important and necessary a component of the social life of the district. And we realized that this is a ready–made project for scaling,” Fatima Gerfanova, the Project Manager, says.
The project is aimed at covering all rural district centers of Kazakhstan with laboratory analysis drawing rooms and involves the issuance of gratuitous grants from SRDF in the amount of up to KZT3 million to entrepreneurs for the purchase of necessary equipment, office equipment and furniture. At the same time, there are two main conditions – target confirmation of the amounts issued within 30 days from the date of grant issuance and the need for a laboratory room to work for one year. After that, the entrepreneur chooses whether they would like to receive a franchise from the Olymp CDL company or INVIVO and is engaged in further marketing and operational design.

Olymp CDL and INVIVO have agreed to partner in the project for its further scaling. Olymp CDL within the framework of the project has cancelled the lump-sum contribution for entrepreneurs who opened biomaterial drawing points in district centers. INVIVO initially did not provide for such a lump-sum contribution.
For a year and a half of the project existence, with the support of the Fund, opening of 15 laboratory rooms in 8 regions of Kazakhstan was financed in the amount of more than KZT20 million. More than 30 jobs were created and more than 800 thousand villagers were covered.
Islambek Sarsenov, the entrepreneur, opened a biomaterial drawing point in Shornak village of Sauran district of Turkestan region in December 2022: “I myself am a medic by profession, I worked in a district polyclinic. I thought about starting my own business for a long time, as soon as I learned about the grants of the Sustainable Rural Development Fund, I realized that this was my chance. I hope that my business will only grow and scale.”

What difficulties did the project organizers face?

"First of all, it is the low profitability of this type of business in rural district centers with a population of less than 10 thousand people. When contacting entrepreneurs, SRDF employees always take into account the issue of the payback of laboratory rooms, since after six months of issuing the first grants, entrepreneurs in district centers faced this issue. Issues of marketing support are being worked out in cooperation with Olymp CDL and INVIVO. “We do not abandon our business partners in the districts – after the opening of the BDPs, we help them solve issues. We try to keep in touch with those who received the grant. There are also those who, after a year of functioning of laboratory rooms, closed them. To date, 2 of 15 laboratory rooms were closed. In remote areas with low population density, we agreed with our partners to open a BDP without the involvement of entrepreneurs, independently by Olymp CDL and INVIVO,” the SRDF representative says.
Nadezhda Chauss, the entrepreneur, opened a biomaterial drawing point in Ossakarovka village of Ossakarovsky district of Karaganda region: “A little less than 9 thousand people live in Ossakarovka, and about 30 thousand in the district. A private laboratory room was previously opened, but closed about a year ago. We received a grant in September 2022, and immediately opened our point. Our biggest problem is not even payback, we hope that we will soon show a profit; what worries us is the issue of staff shortage. I am glad that our patients are very satisfied: there is no need to go to the city, the range of tests is steadily expanding and the time for obtaining results is shortened”
The advantage of the Fund grants is the quick time frame for reviewing the project. An entrepreneur can get acquainted with the list of district centers in which the Fund supports the initiative to open laboratory rooms on the website /. It is enough to submit a request and the Fund staff will contact the initiator in a short time.

To date, there are no private diagnostic laboratory rooms in 34 district centers of 8 regions, and the Fund aims to open them in 2023. The largest number of such districts is concentrated in West Kazakhstan and Karaganda regions.

SRDF is open to all offers and is looking for those who are ready to open laboratory rooms under the Olymp CDL or INVIVO franchises in the regional centers of the country. Are you interested in? Please, visit the website / and get all the necessary information.