Women volunteers become successful entrepreneurs

Date: Monday, December 14, 2020

Nana Kheladze. Photo: Sopo Maghaldadze
Nana Kheladze. Photo: Sopo Maghaldadze

Nana Kheladze, now 45 years old, moved to Sviri in her fourth year of marriage. It was then that she realized that it was almost impossible for the local inhabitants to buy freshly baked bread. In that high mountainous settlement, there was only one grocery store functioning, and its owner had to bring in the products for his shop from other areas himself. Therefore, he had to buy enough bread in Akhaltsikhe for five or six days at a go. So, the locals had no other choice.

By that time, Nana had already acquired experience in management and technological processes, and so, she decided to open a bakery in the village. “It would be good both for me and for the community. So, I wrote a grant application, and the governmental project ‘Produce in Georgia’ financed it. When I launched my enterprise, my baby was only 40 days old,” recalls Nana.

The bread made by the young entrepreneur instantly gained popularity. The locals were very fond of her product. In parallel with working in the bakery, Nana got involved in the community mobilization component of UN Women and the Taso Foundation, and her past volunteering experience turned out to be immensely useful.

“When my bakery’s kneading machine broke down, I had to do everything by hand,” she explains. “I even started thinking about closing the business, but right then, the UN Women project started. I went to the training courses, and then I got financed and bought a new kneading machine, which not only reduced the time of the labour but also improved the technological processes, as well as the quality of the bread I made.”

Nana is a participant of the UN Women regional project “Women’s Economic Empowerment in the South Caucasus”. Within the framework of this project, the Academy of the Ministry of Finance of Georgia assisted and helped numerous women involved in community mobilization from Samtskhe-Javakheti, Kvemo Kartli and Kakheti to acquire new knowledge by means of a specially developed educational module. Overall, 150 women were able to receive training between 2019 and 2020. Among the topics covered were business development, computer skills and effective communication.

Rita Daloglaniani. Photo: Sopo Maghaldadze
Rita Daloglaniani. Photo: Sopo Maghaldadze

After finishing the educational modules, 144 women were financed by the project, which encouraged them to realize their ideas and opportunities. Among those who won the grant was 26-year-old Rita Daloglaniani from Vachiani, another village in Akhalkalaki Municipality.

Rita works as a childcarer in a kindergarten. She has two young children of her own and supports her seven-member family with a small farm. She has been growing potatoes, beets, barley and cabbage. Like Nana, Rita too first attended trainings, and then she purchased a tractor with the grant she received.

“I learned a lot from the trainers and participants,” Rita says. “Now, with my knowledge, I can help other women too. Such initiatives enable us to start our own businesses and become independent. I am already planning to grow cauliflower, plant new varieties of potato and further develop my business.” Nana too says she is not going to stop there, as the trainings made it clear to her how important it is to expand one’s business. Now she intends to expand her enterprise by opening a new branch in Akhaltsikhe and employing three more women. After that, she is going to start producing another type of bread without yeast.

UN Women is implementing the project “Women’s Economic Empowerment in the South Caucasus” in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan with the financial support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the Austrian Development Agency. In Georgia, UN Women is partnering with the Kakheti Regional Development Foundation, Taso Foundation and with CARE International.