Human Capital


Founder of the first-ever Takaful company in Kazakhstan and the CIS region

Founding member of the Association of the Development of Islamic Finance (in Kazakhstan)

Founder of the Association of Islamic Finance Professionals

A distinguished alumna of Cambridge Islamic Finance Leadership Programme 2018

Ranked 42 on the WOMANi50 list in 2019

Kuralay Yeldesbay has earned the reputation of being an Islamic finance lady, a true culmination of what the WOMANi brand entails. Ranked as No. 42 on the WOMANi List 2019, she has emerged as an inspiring personality in Islamic banking and finance not only in her native Kazakhstan but also in the wider CIS states. Our WOMANi Report features 300 Most Influential Women in Islamic Business and Finance. Kuralay Yeldesbay featured in the prestigious WOMANi50, a list of top 50 women in Islamic business and finance. This is a huge achievement as the list is otherwise populated with C-level influential women, including the likes of Datuk Noripah Kamso, Chairman of Bank Rakyat Malaysia (ranked first on the list) and Prof. Dr Engku Rabia Adawiah Ali, the most influential woman jurist in Islamic banking and finance (ranked third on the list). Kuralay Yeldesbay is accredited as the founder of the first Takaful company in the CIS region. She ran the company successfully for over six years before embarking on a career that would allow her to play a role in the promotion of Islamic banking and finance regionally and internationally. Despite immensely huge efforts by the likes of Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) – her current employer – the Islamic banking and finance remains a peripheral activity in Kazakhstan. It is the likes of Kuralay Yeldesbay, who have taken the baton from the generation they are respectfully succeeding, to promote Islamic banking and finance in their country. In addition to her day job at AIFC, Kuralay Yeldesbay serves as the President of Association of Islamic Finance Professionals. A body she has set up with the help of like-minded friends who feel passionate about Islamic banking and finance. The Association is now a force to be reckoned with and is being tipped as an advocacy platform for Islamic banking and finance in the wider CIS region. Indeed, this is proving to be the case, as there is now a sister organisation being set up in neighbouring Russia. Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan have also shown interest in being part of a regional network to develop adequate human resources for the budding Islamic financial markets in these countries. There are many obstacles to the development of Islamic banking and finance in the countries that were once part of the Soviet Union. The Soviet-era almost succeeded in eliminating the Islamic identity from the region. When these countries came out of the Soviet rule in the early 1990s, Muslims were only faintly linked to their Islamic heritage. In many countries where an extremist approach was adopted to revert to Islam, it proved to be catastrophic for the Muslim communities therein. Islamic banking and finance is a moderate and modern phenomenon that offers a market-based approach to the revival of Islam in Kazakhstan and the neighbouring countries. Kuralay Yeldesbay was born in the beautiful city of Almaty but her love for Islamic finance took her to the capital city Nur-Sultan, which is fast emerging as a Centre of Excellence for Islamic finance, owing to AIFC and its leadership. Yet, she hasn’t confined herself to Kazakhstan, as her influence is reaching beyond national boundaries, earning her international fame.

I truly believe that our Association can play a key role in the development of Islamic banking and finance in the region.

We are happy that Islamic banking and finance has provided us with a constructive platform to progressively assert our Muslim identity

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