Meet Our Team

Dedicated Experts Driving Innovation and Excellence
  • Shumaila Yousafzai
    Director and Founder
    Distinguished entrepreneurship scholar with over 20 years of research and teaching experience. She has authored over 10 books and 30 articles, earning an h-index of 25 and 7,000+ citations. Her editorial work with Routledge and Edward Elgar has shaped entrepreneurship studies, particularly in sustainable practices. She has mentored over 15 PhD students and led large-scale funded projects, advancing research and integrating ethical business practices in Kazakhstan.
  • Anjan Ghosh
    Co-director and
    co-Founder
    Assistant Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at NUGSB and a PhD Gold Medalist from IIM Calcutta. He co-founded four research centers in Central Asia, including NURCE. His award-winning research addresses global warming, climate change, and equality. Anjan previously spent 15+ years in IT, co-founding a NASDAQ-listed e-learning company.
  • Philipp Schröder
    Deputy Director
    Associate Professor and Deputy Director at Nazarbayev University's Research Centre for Entrepreneurship (NURCE). He holds a postdoctoral qualification from the University of Zurich and a PhD from Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. He has also conducted research for the World Bank, UN Women, UNICEF, and USAID.
  • Nurlykhan Aljanova
    Deputy Director
    A Research Fellow and Deputy Director at NURCE, she specializes in the decolonization process and preserving cultural values in women's entrepreneurial activities. Currently on sabbatical at Al-Farabi Kazakh National University, her research focuses on identity reconstruction, women entrepreneurship, and organizational culture. Her recent paper on challenges for women entrepreneurs in Kazakhstan won three awards at the Academy of Management Annual Conference 2023. She is an Editorial Board Member of several journals and has served as a visiting professor at Madrid Complutense University within the One Asia Foundation project.
  • Nurlan Kulbatyrov
    Research Assistant

    A national trade policy expert, he is the Deputy General Director of the QazTrade Center for Trade Policy Development. He graduated from Timiryazev Russian State Agrarian University and has over 15 years of research experience in economies in transition, business climate, and trade policy in Central Asia. He previously led the Entrepreneurship Development Center at the Economic Research Institute and is a member of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor national team at Nazarbayev University. He has participated in scientific training in South Korea, Japan, Turkey, and China and supervised Kazakhstan's OECD Country Program and ITC's "Central Asia Ready for Trade" project.

  • Nurlyaiym Zhaksybayeva
    Research Assistant
    Dedicated Public Policy Researcher with a Master’s degree and extensive experience in government think tanks and academic institutions. Specializing in international trade, circular entrepreneurship, and regional development, she has managed export projects and led strategic trade initiatives. Known for her analytical skills and commitment to evidence-based policies, she has contributed numerous articles, policy papers, and book chapters. Currently, she is studying MSc Environment and Development at the London School of Economics as a Chevening Scholar, focusing on the circular economy, international trade, and the environment.

  • Zhansaule Kimel
    Research Assistant
    Research Associate at Nazarbayev University's Research Centre for Entrepreneurship, specializing in digital entrepreneurship among women in emerging markets. Her research examines how digital platforms and technologies shape women's entrepreneurial experiences and the impact of government policies and societal trends on female entrepreneurship. She aims to create supportive ecosystems for women entrepreneurs through educational programs, mentorship, and resource accessibility, advocating for gender equity in business.
  • Indira Alibayeva
    Postdoctoral Researcher
    She holds a PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Zurich, where she explored how non-majority ethnic groups assert their belonging in nation-building states. Her research among Kazakhstani Uzbeks contributes to studies on state building, identity, and ethnicity in Central Asia. Indira has worked at the Max Planck Institute and taught at the University of Zurich and Almaty Management University. She promotes scientific knowledge in Qazaq, hosting the "Cooltóbe" podcast and contributing to the Gylym Faces project. At NURCE, her research focuses on the ideological motivations of entrepreneurs, integration of ethnic minorities, and pathways for female entrepreneurs in Central Asia.
  • Dauletzhan Baimukhanov
    Research Assistant
    Ph.D. student in Innovation Management at L.N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University. He has previously served as a Lecturer and Senior Lecturer there, teaching Entrepreneurship, Innovation Management, and Venture Financing. He also worked as an executive assistant at Almaty Management University, focusing on AMBA and AACSB accreditations, and as a consultant for the World Bank's "Skills and Jobs" project. He holds an MBA from the Information Systems Management Institute in Riga, Latvia. With 7 years of academic experience, 5 years in the startup ecosystem, and 3 years in consulting, his research interests include technological entrepreneurship, startup management, and business incubation in Kazakhstan.
  • Adiya Akhmer
    Media manager
    4th year political science and international relations student at NU. She is a research assistant in NURCE, working on a project about female entrepreneurs in male-dominated fields. She is an alumna of School of Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, and Young Leadership program, organized by Friedrich Ebert Foundation. She also writes for an online magazine Manshuq, which focuses on women empowerment. Her research interests include nuclear politics, civil society, social activism, feminism in Central Asia.
  • Hayes Anyasodor
    Event Manager
    Hayes is a mining engineer and research assistant at NURCE, working with esteemed scholars and business leaders. With a global perspective gained from NURCE’s events and presentations, Hayes advocates for increased business involvement back home in Nigeria. At NURCE, Hayes values the diverse cultural connections within the research team and is dedicated to contributing to the organization's success.
  • Dilnaz Aisakova
    Social media manager
    Marketing specialist, a graduate of SDU with a degree in Digital Marketing. She has been working at NURCE since March 2023, combining with corporate work in a remote format. Dilnaz is responsible for NURCE's designs, Instagram and helps with the organization of work Event Team.
  • Emina Yessekeyeva
    Project Manager
    Project Manager and Research Assistant at NURCE, overseeing conferences, master trainings for women entrepreneurs, and book publications. Additionally, she is a PhD candidate at Radboud University, Netherlands, focusing on material religion, cultural anthropology, and visual studies. Her research delves into the concept of "dynamic religion" in contemporary Kazakhstani artworks, exploring the intersection of art and spirituality in a post-Soviet context. She is also involved in research on creative entrepreneurship, including a study on the experimental theater "Art Bunker" in Almaty.



  • Aigerim Tarbagatayeva
    business trainer, life coach, motivation speaker, and mentor. As Head of the Association of Business-Trainers and a Research Assistant at NURCE, she specializes in project management, startup mentorship, and women's entrepreneurship in Kazakhstan and Central Asia. With over 13 years of practical experience and 7 years of training and mentorship, she has educated over 400 startup entrepreneurs and 1500 individuals on business mindset topics across 15 regions of Kazakhstan, along with 600 people through online training and webinars. Aigerim has led initiatives to support women entrepreneurs, including mentorship programs and social projects to help families and young people start businesses. She collaborates with Imperial College London on research to address gender equity issues, aiming to empower women financially and create new opportunities for them.
  • Jessica Neafie
    Assistant Professor at Nazarbayev University's Department of Political Science and International Relations, focuses her research on the impacts of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), Multinational Corporations (MNCs), and the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) on developing and emerging economies. Her work, funded by a Faculty Development and Research Grant, includes surveys on public opinion of Chinese investment in Central Asia and analysis of digital banking, oil extraction, and UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) implementation in Kazakhstan. Dr. Neafie holds a Ph.D. from the University of Oregon, with prior experience at Western Oregon University. She also possesses M.A. degrees in Climate Science and Policy, Diplomatic Studies, and a B.A. in Asian Studies and Political Science.
  • Mohammad Habib Abdullah
    Research Assistant
    He holds an MPA from Nazarbayev University's Graduate School of Public Policy and an MBA from Beijing Normal University. Mohammad's leadership prowess was evident throughout his academic journey, holding key positions in student government and founding organizations like NUAIS and NU GSPP SC. Post-graduation, he continued to drive impactful initiatives, including founding the NUGNC and NUAC. Mohammad's philanthropic efforts, such as the "Give Back To Kazakhstan" project, have left a significant mark, aiding numerous families and orphans. Beyond NU, he has led transformative initiatives in Afghanistan, earning recognition including the Princess Diana Award and founding Youth for Youth and the Yuz Yigit Charity Foundation.
  • Aizhan Serikzhanova
    Aizhan is a research assistant at NURCE, blending her passion for ideas and public speaking with a dedication to research. Drawn by NURCE's commitment to community service and women's entrepreneurship, she found a vibrant and welcoming atmosphere that fosters personal and professional growth. Aizhan sees her role as extending beyond tasks to include ideation, problem-solving, and strategizing. She aims to bridge the gap between academia and the public, bringing fresh perspectives to NURCE's endeavors
  • Mazen Farraj
    Mazen, a Business Administration graduate, offers expertise in project management, financial analysis, and strategic planning. His problem-solving skills and strong work ethic make him a valuable addition to our team. Eager to drive business success, Mazen thrives in fast-paced environments and embraces a continuous learning and growth mindset.
  • Onyinyechi Doris Chima
    A First-year Master's student in Public Administration at the Graduate School of Public Policy (GSPP). Currently, I am interning at NURCE. I have a keen interest in green entrepreneurship and its potential to drive sustainable development. This passion shapes my academic and professional pursuits, aiming to integrate environmental sustainability with public policy.
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