23-Year-Old Kazakh Changing Her Country

How can you make your country more free?

For 23-year-old Darya Nenakhova, from Kazakhstan, real change starts with young people -- and free markets.

We believe that for improving the index of economic freedom in Kazakhstan, we first need to encourage young people's interest in entrepreneurship. This will give Kazakhstan a new generation of business creators and increase the number of jobs,” Darya Nenakhova said.

Kazakhstan, a country of 16 million people in central Asia, borders Russia to the north, China to the southeast, and Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan to its south. It was the last country in the former Soviet Union to become independent, a process finalized in December 1991.

That’s part of what makes Darya’s work so important and exciting.

Darya is the director of business development for the Young Entrepreneurs Club in Kazakhstan, which began just a few months ago in December 2012. The club’s mission is to inspire young people from ages 21 to 37 to create and develop their own businesses. Each week the Young Entrepreneurs Club organizes a “Business Tuesday” at which they network, meet new members, and listen to guest speakers who promote economic freedom.

Darya is also a founding partner at the Institute for Development and Economic Affairs (IDEA), a think tank founded in 2011. The think tank works with government, NGOs, and foreign partners.

“We want Kazakhstan to be a safe and prosperous country, where everyone has an opportunity for self-development with a wide diversity of individual rights and freedoms that are protected from intervention, where the talents of every citizen are valued and where government is concentrated on its main function – the protection of life and property of citizens,” Darya explained.

At the KIMEP University library a memorial corner dedicated to free-market economist Ludwig von Mises is being created, thanks to Darya’s group.

“In this library we are planning to bring together the authors of classical liberal economics and philosophy in Russian, English, and in Kazakh,” Darya said. “We plan to bring a lot of books from the U.S. and Russia and make these works freely available for professors and students from all universities.”

The group has spearheaded the translation of classical liberal thinkers into Kazakh so more university students can read and be exposed to these ideas.

Their first project is the translation of The Law by Frederic Bastiat. Then, they will translate The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible: A Free Market Odyssey by Ken Schoolland.

After her colleague and IDEA co-founder Pavel Koktyshev introduced her to the Leadership Institute, Darya attended LI’s week-long International School of Fundraising in London this past March.

“I integrated what I learned about direct mail at LI’s training to our Economic Freedom Forum last month in April,” Darya said. “There was a letter asking people to donate money for book translation (The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible) from Russian to Kazak. The translated book will then be provided for children in the villages.”

“The Leadership Institute has already been helpful to my professional career through the huge and useful contact database,” Darya said. “I was inspired by Ron Nehring’s speech about fundraising for political campaigns, and Bruce and Katherine Eberle’s lecture on planning and organizing successful fundraising events was a key topic to me because in Almaty, Kazakhstan we organize events for IDEA and the Young Entrepreneurs Club.”

Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) Kazakhstan is the world’s largest celebration of the innovators and job creators who launch startups.


“The initiative kicked off in 2008, launched by former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Carl Schramm, the president and CEO of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Since then, it has grown to 115 countries,” Darya said. “When Kazakhstan joined GEW Global in 2011, this was our team’s first initiative: to run the Forum of Youth Entrepreneurship.”

She continued, “This week-long conference gathered government and business representatives for constructive dialogue about finding opportunities, taking risks, solving problems, being creative, building connections and learning from both failure and success. During one week each November, GEW Kazakhstan inspires people everywhere through local, national and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators,” Darya said. “After joining GEW Kazakhstan, it gave us the reason to start the Young Entrepreneurs Club.”

You too can start a conservative club, perhaps on your liberal college campus. Contact LI’s Campus Leadership Program Deputy National Field Director Mike Armstrong at MArmstrong@Leadershipinstitute.org for more details and support.

Like Darya, you can be armed with the tools you need to advance your principles. Go register now for a training near you.

Please congratulate and welcome Darya Nenakhova as LI’s Graduate of the Week.

To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member to be featured as LI's spotlight of the week, please contact LI's External Affairs Officer Lauren Day, formerly Lauren Hart, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.