Innovations for the empowerment of women entrepreneurs

Date: Monday, May 10, 2021

Founders of social enterprise Potteria, from left to right: Natia Kalmakhelidze, Natia Nozadze and Elizabeth Dimitriadi. Photo: Elizabeth Dimitriadi's personal archive
Founders of social enterprise Potteria, from left to right: Natia Kalmakhelidze, Natia Nozadze and Elizabeth Dimitriadi. Photo: Elizabeth Dimitriadi's personal archive

“The pandemic has severely affected the activities of our enterprise,” says Elizabeth Dimitriadi, one of the founders of the pottery workshop Potteria. “We managed to survive the closure last year, but then we had to face new challenges that tested us. In order to overcome them, both in terms of work process and realization, it has become necessary to introduce digital solutions and innovative approaches.”

Potteria is a social enterprise. It was founded in 2018 by Elizabeth in partnership with her two friends, Natia Nozadze and Natia Kalmakhelidze, with the support of the Center for Strategic Research and Development of Georgia, and it has since employed about 20 women. From the very start, the purpose of the workshop was to support particularly vulnerable groups that needed support. For example, since the very first days of its founding, the enterprise has employed the therapy of working with clay to help numerous women in conflict with the law to resocialize and learn a new profession. The main customers of the enterprise, which produces a variety of products such as souvenirs, tableware and interior decor, had been tourists, so the pandemic and the restrictions created additional difficulties for the realization of their products.

It was these difficulties that Elizabeth was facing when a statement posted on UN Women’s Facebook page caught her attention. She found out that the online course “Innovative Strategies and Digital Transformation for Women Entrepreneurs” was starting. These were the very topics that Potteria needed most in the new reality. “I saw that because of COVID-19, digitalization had become exceedingly important. Consequently, the proposed topics gave me a great incentive to participate, so I registered immediately,” Elizabeth explains.

The online course “Innovative Strategies and Digital Transformation for Women Entrepreneurs” was held in February and March 2021 at the joint initiative of UN Women and the Embassy of Israel in Georgia, in partnership with the Mashav-Carmel International Training Center. Its aim was to empower women entrepreneurs and to provide them with knowledge on innovative processes and methodologies.

Due to the urgency of the topic, the course generated great interest. In addition to Elizabeth, 34 women entrepreneurs participated in it. The acquired knowledge has helped them formulate innovative strategies, increase their productivity, establish appropriate methodologies, use different business tools and adapt to new realities. Elizabeth notes that the information shared during the training course is becoming even more important over time: “We received a lot of useful advice - for example, how to create interesting content like videos and graphics, how to present and test innovations, how to talk to customers, and what kind of database to run [to track] sales or popular products.” She is already applying the acquired knowledge in practice: “With the help of these data, we have better studied the behaviour of our customers and enhanced the quality of their loyalty. Besides, the advice we received has helped us improve the content of our social media networks and make it more interesting.”

Now Potteria continues to be an enterprise focused on the empowerment of women and is planning various social projects. In collaboration with Liberty Bank, a signatory to the Women’s Empowerment Principles, women over the age of 60 completed a two-month course in working with clay and explored all stages of pottery-making. Elizabeth wants to carry out a similar initiative for women victims of violence.