Developing financial services in Turkmenistan


The John Smith Trust has welcomed Fellows from Turkmenistan to its Fellowship Programmes since 2012 – and Maksat Keshiyev was our first.

Turkmenistan has been taking steps to modernise its banking industry in recent years. Investment in financial institutions, modernisation and greater economic diversification are considered essential for Turkmenistan’s sustainable economic development. At the time of his John Smith Trust Fellowship Programme in 2012, Maksat Keshiyev was working at the Central Bank of Turkmenistan as the Head of the Reporting, Information and Technologies Division of the Interbank Currency Exchange of Turkmenistan (ICET). In this role, Maksat was responsible for incoming applications with regards to buying and selling currencies from commercial banks, preparing reports on market developments and ensuring clearing and settlement of daily operations.

His Action Plan for the Fellowship Programme was to help speed up the development of market relations in Central Asia through modernising infrastructure. He was also keen to look at the mechanisms needed to establish a Stock Exchange. Given the UK financial markets are among the most developed in the world, Maksat recognised the value to developing countries like Turkmenistan of learning from the UK’s experience and good practice as they build market infrastructure and develop their financial institutions.

While in the UK, the John Smith Trust set up high level meetings for Maksat with specialists at the Bank of England, the Treasury Select Committee, Treasury, London Stock Exchange, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) as well as with the Centre for Financial Innovation. He found it incredibly helpful to understand the historical steps and developments of financial markets that UK institutions and society went through as well as learning about current practices.

Maksat returned to Turkmenistan with new ideas and valuable learning which he shared with his colleagues at the Central Bank. Thanks to Maksat’s experiences the UK, he was included into a working group led by the Cabinet of Ministers and including Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Economy and Central Bank representatives. Wanting to gather more information from a wider variety of economies about stock market function relevant to Turkmenistan, Maksat then added to his UK understanding by taking various research trips – for example to Turkey and Poland – to learn more about their stock market development. A Stock Exchange was established in Turkmenistan in 2016 through the efforts of the working group.   

Today, Maksat works as Partnerships and Development Finance Officer at the UN Resident Coordination Office in Ashgabat where his responsibilities include expanding development partnerships for financing sustainable development in Turkmenistan.  He believes that with the rapid development of market relations in Central Asia, particularly Turkmenistan, there is a necessity to expand bank products and financial services to market participants in the region.  

Maksat has found his connection with the John Smith Trust to be valuable in a number of ways.  He says he has learned much from meeting other Fellows with their different views and professional backgrounds yet at the same time, managing to find a common language with their post-Soviet experience. And he says his experience in the UK contributed to better understanding of the overall financial development landscape which has been important in his career.