Plavno: about the adaptation of Belarusian IT specialists in Kazakhstan

Oleg Lipunov, Belarus, CEO of Plavno (Smoothly) LLP, @elmestreby

I moved from Minsk to Kazakhstan in early March 2022. My team and I have been planning to live and work abroad for a long time, but we could not choose the right country. I've always wanted to see new places and get to know a different culture, so now I'm glad to be in Kazakhstan.

First impression

It's very cold. I haven't seen such a winter for a long time, especially at the end of March.

The capital of Kazakhstan exceeded all my expectations: interesting and modern architecture, wide avenues, the level of automation and digitalization in government agencies pleasantly surprised.

Fans of the Japanese automotive industry will really like it here — well, there are a lot of Toyota Camry cars.

Nur-Sultan is a city of long distances, it is difficult for pedestrians to move around the city even between buildings, and sometimes narrow sidewalks that are not cleared cause the same inconvenience. But I think with the onset of a full-fledged spring, we will be able to enjoy both the weather and a walk around the city.

About difficulties

When a member of our team needed to get an IIN (individual identification number), we faced a problem: in Kazakh passports, all the necessary information about a citizen is published on 2 pages, and the peculiarity of Belarusian passports is that all the necessary information about a citizen of Belarus is on 3 pages. Therefore, obtaining a personal number turned out to be somewhat problematic, few operators were able to scan the document correctly at passport control. And because of an error in the system, my colleagues and I stood in line at the PSC 3 times, and we are all registered in Kazakhstan as female persons according to documents. Here is such an incident.

Why Kazakhstan?

It seems to me that at the moment the conditions here are better than in Georgia or, for example, in Lithuania. I don't see any obstacles not to go to Kazakhstan and open a business here. My friends who moved to Western Europe or North America have been getting used to the change in living standards for a long time. Since the money you earn in Belarus is enough for a private kindergarten for children, vacations 2 times a year, branded clothes and so on. In Europe, where the cost of living is much higher, the same money is enough for a modest life. Choosing Kazakhstan, the task was set so that the team would not experience a financial or cultural shock, “gently” moved without losing in the standard of living. In addition, there is no need to learn a new language. It is generally believed that English is the most popular language, and everyone speaks it. But in reality, this is not always the case: in some European or Asian countries, you need to walk almost with a banner “Who speaks English here?”to ask something from the locals.

Kazakhstan is a big and rich country, there are good opportunities for business development and friendly people here.
Astana has a high level of service, which is available at reasonable prices, and there are also cool shopping centers with lots of entertainment for children.
The prices for rental housing and office, for food and clothing are similar to Belarusian ones, which allows us to carry out work activities and make plans for further life here.
Loyal migration legislation. In terms of the time and package of necessary documents for relocation, Kazakhstan is an excellent option, there are practically no obstacles in order to open a company here and expand the base of its customers.
The e-government portal works perfectly I quickly opened a company, just opened an account and found apartments for myself and the team in 2 days.
Here we feel that we are not yet our own, but also not strangers. We speak the same language, the people here are very friendly: they will prompt and help. Moreover, it feels that the level of education in the country is quite high, since I have not heard such a correct Russian speech for a long time. I have never encountered anything negative yet. Modern Kazakhstan, in its economic and political views, is increasingly approaching European values, which are very necessary to attract highly qualified labor resources.

About stereotypes

I adhere to the logic that if a person comes to live in another country, he must study the culture and language of this country in order to understand these people and become culturally and mentally closer to them, so as not to be a stranger. I have already started this process by visiting the National Museum of Kazakhstan. For example, I did not know that the Turkic culture is ancient and so developed: the works of decorative and applied art are amazing, a very developed civilization lived on your land, which skillfully processed metal and built unique dwellings, the ancient Turks had their own language, culture and religion. This surprised me, since at school and university we did not study the history of post-Soviet countries, in particular Kazakhstan.

Why did you name the company “Plavno (Smoothly)”?

There is a lake in Belarus Smoothly, and the guys and I like to relax in sanatoriums that are located on the territory of the Berezinsky Biosphere Reserve. It's very beautiful there!

About the similarities

Kazakhs and Belarusians are united by hospitality, tolerance and a measured pace in work. It's great that there is no unnecessary fuss and frenzied rhythm, as is often the case in large metropolitan areas. We are comfortable here.

About the plans

So far, only part of the team has moved to Kazakhstan - 20 developers. We have been here for more than a month. In the future, we plan to move inside Kazakhstan: part of the team will remain in the capital, the other, especially suffering from a cold climate, will move to Almaty. Our company still works in Belarus, we consider moving to Kazakhstan as part of regional development. In the future, Plavno plans to hire Kazakhstani back-end, front-end developers, project managers and designers. There are really a lot of educated and modern-minded people in Kazakhstan.

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