Bulat Utemuratov is a leading Kazakh businessman and philanthropist, regularly topping Forbes’ Kazakhstan list. He is the key investor in the projects managed by Verny Capital Investment Group and oversees the activities of the Bulat Utemuratov Foundation, which focuses on health, education, urban and cultural development in Kazakhstan.
After studying economics at the Almaty Institute for National Economy (Narxoz University), Mr. Utemuratov began his career as Deputy Chairman of the Society District Executive Committee in 1986. Over the next ten years, Mr Utemuratov worked for the State Committee for Foreign Economic Relations, the Kazakh Trading House in Vienna, and then the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations and the Ministry of Industry and Trade in Kazakhstan.
In 1995, Mr Utemuratov, jointly with a group of partners, founded the Almaty Trade and Finance Bank (ATF Bank), and by 2007 was its controlling shareholder. During this time, ATF Bank grew from a small financial institution to a large group and one of the leaders of the banking sector. In 2007, Bulat Utemuratov along with minority shareholders sold ATF Bank to the Italian UniCredit group for a record $2.2 billion. According to experts, this transaction was the largest in the CIS banking sector at the time.
Mr, Utemuratov became the Ambassador to Switzerland in 1996 before returning to Kazakhstan in 1999, where he then held various government positions within the Security Council and the Presidential Administration of the Republic of Kazakhstan, including advising the President on economic affairs and heading the Presidential Property Management Directorate, until 2013. Mr. Utemuratov’s last position in the civil service is the Special Representative of the President for Cooperation with the Kyrgyz Republic. From July 2007 to January 2022, he was a member of the Political Council of the Nur Otan political party.
Alongside his business career, Mr. Utemuratov is actively engaged in philanthropic activities incorporating the principles of sustainable development and social responsibility into his investments.
In 2014, Bulat Utemuratov established a charitable foundation. The Bulat Utemuratov Foundation allocated $12 million to its flagship project “Autism. One World for All” which provides early intervention programs for autistic children and support for their families. The Foundation is one of few local organizations in Kazakhstan with a diverse portfolio of nationwide projects. This enables the Foundation to drive sustainable improvement in the country’s standard of living while also being able to quickly respond to critical emergencies. Along with providing emergency response at the local level, in 2023 the Foundation donated $5 million to provide relief in Türkiye following the devastating earthquake.
To address the regional social development gap, the Foundation has initiated a variety of projects across Kazakhstan worth over $90 million. As part of its philanthropic activities, the Bulat Utemuratov Foundation actively promotes positive youth development. A unique leadership program has been incorporated into the school curriculum in 80 schools of the country to help students develop critical thinking, public speaking, and negotiation skills. Further, to foster a culture of sustainability and teamwork, the Foundation initiated the Jasyl Mektep (Green School) project in 36 schools in Almaty and Astana. Through the program, children can learn a pattern of healthy activity, by planting and cultivating plants, and grow self-confidence from achieving their goals and enjoying the food that they have grown. A total of 40,000 students have participated in the two programs so far.
Bulat Utemuratov directly supports two not-for-profit educational institutions, namely Narxoz University, one of the leading private universities in Kazakhstan, and the Haileybury International Schools in Kazakhstan, which offer a broad liberal education following the traditions of independent British schooling. All proceeds are reinvested into the university and schools, and are spent on staff capacity building, enhancement of infrastructure, and on raising education quality.
Contribution to the future of Kazakhstani athletes
Since 2007, Bulat Utemuratov has served as President of the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation, and currently is a member of the Board of Directors and the Vice President of the International Tennis Federation (ITF). He allocated over $100 million for the development of tennis in Kazakhstan, training of coaches, the construction of tennis infrastructure around the country and long-term training programs for young talented athletes. Such approach paid off, and in 2022, junior tennis players from Kazakhstan reached the semi-finals of the World Junior Tennis Championship Finals U14, and for the first time in history, Elena Rybakina, a tennis player from Kazakhstan, won Wimbledon. Under Bulat Utemuratov’s leadership, Kazakhstan hosted its first ATP 500 tournament in 2022.
Founder of the Bulat Utemuratov Foundation
President of the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation, read more in the profile of The Marque