TBY talks to Siddique Khan, President and CEO of Globalink Logistics Group, on Kazakhstan as a base of operations, the company’s growth, and the transportation sector’s importance in diversifying the economy.
TBY Globalink is one of the major players in the transport sector in Kazakhstan. As a foreign investor, why did you choose Kazakhstan and the transport sector?
SIDDIQUE KHAN We have been in the transport business for two generations—it is a family business. I am the one who decided to transform the business from being a traditional road and short sea transportation company into a multi-modal transportation and logistics management business. The transport and logistics business has evolved; you do not need to have trucks, planes, and trains to be involved in transport. You can be a service provider as an asset light company, and you can be a logistics provider creating supply chain solutions based on a combination of HR and IT. I have started evolving the family business from being a hardcore, asset heavy carriage business to an asset-light, HR- and technology-driven transport and logistics management business. I chose Kazakhstan because its location is exceptionally interesting. Some people look at Kazakhstan and say it is landlocked, and that because of this there is lack of opportunities. Kazakhstan does not have a coastline, but if you look at its location it is an ideal fit between East and West. You look at Kazakhstan and its border with China, and on the other hand there is Russia, which is ultimately connected to the Baltic Sea and Europe. Kazakhstan is also located on the Silk Road, which is a buzzword among all Central Asian states nowadays. Kazakhstan also has the natural resources. When I came here I was only 24 years old and I saw the opportunity to establish the link between East and West. Reviving the Silk Road became a dream. Since 1992 I have been working on developing Globalink, in 1993 I came to settle here, and in 1994 Globalink was officially registered.
You were one of the first newcomers to the country. How does your company’s growth reflect the growth of Kazakhstan’s economy?
I think our business has grown in parallel with Kazakhstan’s economy. You have to be mentally and physically prepared to accept the realities of an emerging country while doing business here, and rather than complaining about certain aspects, you have to do something to improve that reality. That is what exactly Globalink did. We came here in 1992, and we accepted the realities on the ground. I did a lot of consulting and research work, and was busy traveling in the region to each and every country connected to Kazakhstan. I visited my customers, and I visited those companies that were not present in the region. Once we felt that we were 100% sure that we could deliver a service, only then did we register a legal entity and start offering services. Since we opened our doors in 1992 we have satisfied all our clients’ demands because we have been well prepared for the realities of the country, especially considering it is an emerging and challenging market where you have to deal with a unique culture, political scene, economy, and post-Soviet infrastructure. I am proud of the fact that Globalink is the first Kazakhstani company in the service sector that has spread to 22 countries worldwide in the past 17 years, offering vertically integrated transport and logistics solutions. We have also developed a Global Network that extends across 65 countries to cover 90% of the world economy. This means we have people on the ground in every major market across the globe ready to support our customers. Our growth and increasing global connectivity is a reflection of Kazakhstan’s growth and increasing connectivity.
What role can the logistics sector play in the diversification of Kazakhstan’s economy?
Kazakhstan borders China, and it would be very tough challenge to develop mass manufacturing here. However, if you look at Kazakhstan’s location a lot of people consider it to be a disadvantage—I disagree. We have an abundance of natural resources that we have to convert into finished products, and we have to ensure our products reach world markets at a reasonable cost.
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