Discovery Kyrgyzstan
 
Discovery Kyrgyzstan travel guide #10/2008
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May you live long & happily

It was in 1987, a time when co-operative societies were developing most rapidly, that Taabyldy Egemberdiev, president of the Shoro company, first came up with the idea of producing maksym , the national home-made drink of mountain Kyrgyz and Kazakh people, for mass consumption. The idea, which seemed unthinkable to many, found support with Zhumadil Egemberdiev, his younger brother, and Suyun-opa, mother and main keeper of the leaven, who could not imagine the dastarkhan without maksym .
The main "market research" was conducted among guests at their mother's home. They always seemed more taken not with beshbarmak , not with alcohol drinks, but with maksym , the home-made drink not mentioned in the "guest menu".
This was the main reason why the Egemberdiev brothers were confident of success. But it took five years of forethought, psychological preparation, and anticipation of the final launch, from the conception of the idea to the moment of its realization. Both brothers had degrees in civil engineering and they enjoyed their work. It was not easy to give everything up and start a new business without premises, finances or partners. Not to mention overcoming bureaucratic difficulties which the first cooperative members had to face.
The launch was made in 1992. By this time five members of Egemberdiev's family: Zhumadil Egemberdiev, his wife Zhekin Sapysheva, Taabyldy Egemberdiev, his son Almaz, Anara Egemberdieva, the two brothers' sister, and also two colleagues of Zhumadil Egemberdiev, Dokturbek Kenjebaev and Oskon Akmatov, all gave up their jobs. They, together with Suyun-opa, the chief technologist, established the "Shoro" company on May 29, 1992 and took eighty liters of maksym to the market. As expected it was a great success: the eighty liters were sold in just two hours.
Up to 1995 the company faced only one problem - demand exceeding the offer. The entire volume of the prepared drink (three tons) would sell out before lunch. The drink was prepared according the traditional technology: by hand in 100-liter kazans .
Taabyldy Egemberdiev, the president of the company, now gave up his second profession in social and political activity and switched his attention entirely to the business. He suggested the idea of total mechanization for maksym production. He enthusiastically told his employees that in two or three years' time they would be in white coats pushing buttons and turning taps. The employees received the news in doubtful silence.
Many mistakes were made en route to the realization of the dream: the production of equipment which then turned out to be out-of-date and unsuitable; hundreds of tons of spoilt drink; the long search for the optimal technology, and other expenses. However, the persistence of the author of the idea turned the dream into reality. Today Shoro is the only company in the world with mechanized production of Maksym-Shoro and it delivers seventy tons of the drink a day to the market, well exceeding demand.
Since 1998 the company has been producing Maksym-Shoro in bottles. In 1999 Shoro obtained a bottling line and was the first on the Kyrgyzstan market to produce the drinking water "Legend" as well as other sorts of mineral water, such as "Arashan" and "Baytik". Later "Issyk-Ata", "Zhala-Abad", "Shoro-Su" and "Bishkek" mineral water also appeared on the market.
In 1996 Taabyldy Egemberdiev began thinking about the production and long-term preservation of kumys , another national drink. Twice in 1996 he tried gathering kumys from Son-Kul farmers to sell on the market and twice he met with failure: collected kumys spoilt after a few days. But the setbacks did not stop Taabyldy Egemberdiev: over the next four years he studied the tradition of kumys production, consulting old people. After this he concluded it was not possible to produce kumys according to the ancient traditions, i.e. in chelyaks and water-skins, especially in the Djaylou area, without specific conditions. But out of the unsuccessful kumys idea came two other good decisions: to collect mare's milk from the farmers instead of kumys and thence to produce kumys in Bishkek using modern non-rusting technology in laboratory conditions. In 2000 the company developed new technology for kumys production with a shelf-life of up to six months. Since 2001 the company has exported 70% of its output to Moscow. This year Shoro plans to finish the preparations for the production of two other national drinks: "Koje-Toybos" and "Chalap Togay". The president of the company has no doubts about the success of the product on the market.

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