"Kyrgyz-Swiss Bank» - 10 years of success!


What associations arise in your mind when you hear the phrase "Swiss bank"? If reliability and stability, you are not alone - the whole world thinks so. Ten years ago, Swiss investor Jürg Staubli took over a failed bank in Kyrgyzstan: by injecting funds and renaming it, he opened the first ever Kyrgyz-Swiss Bank. In an interview with , the businessman talked about how investors think and why he chose our country. We also talked about what Kyrgyz banks can learn from Swiss banks and what should be done to make Kyrgyzstan called the second Switzerland not only because of nature, but also because of its developed economy.

"There are no important and unimportant clients - everyone is a VIP for us, regardless of the amount of their bank account," says Jurg Staubli, director of the Swiss company Petram Finance AG, which invested in the creation of the Kyrgyz-Swiss Bank and a few years later invested in the local cheese company Sut-Bulak (brand name Dairy Spring).

Юрг Стаубли - инвестор, филантроп, бизнесмен, специализирующийся в сфере финансов, недвижимости, развитии стартапов и во многих других направлениях. Имеет высшее экономическое образование, степень MBA, диплом в сфере маркетинга, диплом эксперта в сфере недвижимости, докторскую степень в экономике Cosmopolitan University of Missouri (USA).

  • Why did you choose Kyrgyzstan?

The main development in the next ten to twenty years will be in Africa and Asia, especially Central Asia. It was obvious for me to come to this region. I discovered Kyrgyzstan when I saw its similarities to Switzerland. When you come to another country, you feel good or not and you cannot say why. I felt very good here. That's the first thing I look at when I make a decision. Then I check my feelings with analytics: to be a business or not. Kyrgyzstan was the closest on the road to becoming a democracy, and this determined my choice.

Three things are most important for an investor: political stability, a state with laws, and infrastructure. And then it is much easier to succeed in a market that is still developing. Before 2010, many banks in Kyrgyzstan were experiencing difficulties because people, losing their savings, stopped trusting financial institutions. When I started working, only about 4% of the Kyrgyz population had a bank account - the rest kept their money at home. It is much easier to grow in the market with 4% of the population with bank accounts than with 99%.

  • Tell us how did you start?

"Kyrgyz-Swiss Bank" existed earlier as "Kyrgyzdykanbank". The bank was declared bankrupt and after the revolution in 2010, the government decided to sell it. When I took over the bank in 2013, it had nothing. We injected capital, hired employees, changed the name and started working.

The first years were difficult because there were many banks in the country without us - we were basically in the same business. To succeed, we had to be different from our competitors. And the difference could only be in the quality of service, respecting our customers, finding solutions for them, honoring all agreements. When you operate in this way, you build trust year after year, and trust is the foundation of success in the financial business. Today, the bank already employs more than 150 people, and more and more new customers come to us every week.

  • In your opinion, what can Kyrgyz banks learn from Swiss banks?

Quality of service is the most important thing. Of course, people make mistakes - you have to correct mistakes very quickly and not to repeat them again. You have to remember: there are no important and unimportant clients. Every client is a VIP, even if they have a small amount in their bank account. You never know what will happen in the future. Customers are the best ambassadors and the best advertisement for the bank because they share their experiences with each other. Numbers are one thing, the real value of a bank is its brand, reputation and customers.

  • Is it difficult to do business in Kyrgyzstan?

It is never easy in business. When the latest political events happened, I was here. You never know how long it will take. People's first reaction is to save what they have. In this environment, people go to the banks, take their money home and that's it - you can close. It was important to let our clients know that we are here and we will look after their money the same way we look after our own. And as a result, we got a lot of new clients during this period.

Kyrgyzstan is a very young country. You never know what will happen, there are always surprises in politics, economy, and you have to deal with it. This is not a criticism, because every young country has similar problems. But it is important for the state to remember that it is competing with other countries. In order for investors to come, it is important to respect your own rules, they should not change all the time.

When I first came to Kyrgyzstan in 2010 there was only one big hotel and a couple of good restaurants, there were no brands. Now every time I visit, I see new hotels, new restaurants, new stores and well-known brands. This means that you are moving well: incomes are rising, the middle class is growing and business is developing.

  • Kyrgyzstan is often called the second Switzerland. What do you think should be done to make this comparison apply not only to the beautiful nature, but also to the economy?

People forget that two hundred years ago Switzerland was a very poor country. Our main occupation was agriculture. The first son inherited land and business, others had no jobs, so many young Swiss became professional soldiers in the armies of other countries. We had no gold, no uranium, no fortunate location - we were landlocked. The solution was education. Politicians put all their efforts into organizing the best education in public schools, and with this education program Switzerland became what it is today.

Education should be the top priority for the state. It is necessary to invest in education, because it is the future for the country. With educated people there are more guarantees of democracy. Kyrgyzstan is too small to become a big industrialized country - forget it. Education and people - that's what you have to bet on.

And the second thing Kyrgyzstan has a big advantage in: water. Water will be a significant problem of tomorrow. When we talk about water, we are talking about clean electricity. Look at your neighbors, they need electricity, you have a huge market. But you need an investor to finance all this, and for that you need the country to show that it can be trusted.

Kyrgyzstan is also a member of the Eurasian Economic Union and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which includes China and India, a market with almost 50 percent of the world's population. Some of the cities in these countries are bigger than Switzerland. You are located between two huge markets - China and Russia. You hold all the cards.

I am convinced that Central Asia will be successful, and as an investor I am investing where there will definitely be success!