Printer-friendly version

BOTA Foundation

The BOTA Foundation: Innovative Asset Return

In an unprecedented development venture $116 million of disputed assets were repatriated to Kazakhstan through programs targeting the country’s most vulnerable populations.

Three governments, the United States, Switzerland and Kazakhstan, and three organizations, IREX, the World Bank and Save the Children, worked together to establish The BOTA Foundation. 

IREX oversaw the development of the BOTA Foundation and implementation of its programs..  The BOTA Foundation’s unique and innovative social investment programs increased demand and utilization of health and education services through over $66 million in conditional cash transfers and tuition assistance, while the foundation increased the capacity of the social-service sector through a 10 million dollar grants program. Over five years the foundation improved the lives of 208,000 Kazakhstanis while building local capacity and expertise.


•Transparently and effectively return $116 million to vulnerable populations in Kazakhstan

Improve the health, education, and social welfare of children and youth in the poorest regions of Kazakhstan

Foster comprehensive technical and human development in Kazakhstan to ensure the sustainability of the BOTA Foundation’s programs


Any approach to asset return needs to meet the concerns of both the recipient country (Kazakhstan) and the countries who invested considerable time and resources into recovering the assets (United States and Switzerland).

Through negotiations, the three governments agreed to address two primary concerns in repatriating the funds: 1) to ensure that the funds were returned in a transparent and accountable manner and 2)to directly benefit Kazakhstan’s most vulnerable populations.

The BOTA Foundation represents a unique approach to asset return through the auspices of a local NGO. With international oversight and a board consisting of representatives of the countries that returned the assets, and independent Kazakhstanis, assurances were given to the public that the funds would be used for social programming for the poor in the more remote regions of Kazakhstan.

Project Activities

Building the Foundation

Organizational Development: Through organizational development guidance and capacity building technical assistance, IREX with help from partner, Save the Children, built a state of the art organization that ensured international best practices, including transparency, cost effective impact and sustainability.  

The Foundation's Three Programs

Conditional Cash Transfers (CCT): CCTs offer financial incentives to encourage and enable households struggling below the poverty line to access services that will improve their children’s development and welfare.  Beneficiaries were selected based on specific eligibility requirements and economic status and need determined through a proxy means test (PMT).  

BOTA’s CCT program enrolled over 154,000 beneficiaries while training more than 3,000 volunteers to deliver key messages and mobilize community members. Through the program over 50,000 pregnant and lactating women received training and support while nearly 75,000 children received early childhood education and 21,000 youth gained employment and entrepreneurship skills training. BOTA’s CCT program has also been closely observed by the Government in Kazakhstan and is currently being piloted by the Government in several regions with potential for nationwide expansion. 

Social Service Grants and Technical Assistance: Through financial and technical support to Kazakhstani NGOs, BOTA bolstered local organizations working on child welfare. The Foundation provided grants to organizations to support the creation or expansion of social services for children and young people with disabilities, orphans and children without parental care, and other at risk youth. In addition to grant-making, the Social Services Program (SSP) conducted trainings for NGOs on institutional management, fundraising, finance, and innovative tools and technologies to better serve children and youth.

SSP sparked innovative approaches to service delivery. Through BOTA assistance, NGOs were able enhance over 1,600 government services while delivering 1,300 new services to Kazakhstan’s citizens in need. Additionally, a group of approximately 20 SSP grantees have formed a coalition with the intention of continuing to support and advocate for innovative social service delivery in Kazakhstan.

Tuition Assistance Grants: BOTA’s Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) helped disadvantaged young people access higher education through means based scholarships. The grants targeted promising young people by adapting the proxy means test used for CCT beneficiary identification. . Students had to be admitted to a university in Kazakhstan in order to receive a scholarship and the financial assistance was accompanied by a program of training and skill-building as a way to pair knowledge gained in the classroom with practical experience. In order to promote social cohesion and responsibility, all scholars also served as volunteers, providing assistance to organizations and causes to which they were drawn. Ninety percent of TAP beneficiaries were the first in their families to access higher education.


Project Facts

• More than 154,000 Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) beneficiaries have received a total of $56.8 million dollars

• Issued 632 grants to local NGOs reaching over 53,000 beneficiaries

• More than 840 Tuition Assistance grants. 90% of recipients were the first in their families to access higher education