Business Awards Winners Announced

The Georgian business community, government officials, and public sector representatives came together on November 17 to award the winners of the annual Business Awards.

The Business Awards is a joint initiative from TBC Bank and Geocell. The awards ceremony was held in the Museum of Tbilisi History, formerly known as Karvasla (Caravanserai).

The idea of the Business Awards was born in June 2016 as an initiative to support small and medium enterprises and as an overall effort to develop entrepreneurial spirit in the country through stimulating individuals to start their own businesses.

The main concept of the Business Award project is to raise brand awareness of the companies involved, and to share the stories of their success.

The project is made up of several phases: companies are first registered according to category and then winners are selected.

This year 523 companies were registered overall and three finalists were chosen by anonymous jury members in each category for the final competition.

The Business Awards were selected according to the following categories:

Small Business of the Year

Innovative Business of the Year

Tourism Business of the Year

Agro-Business of the Year

Georgian Product of the Year

People’s Choice

Business of the Year

The companies competing for the People’s Choice Awards entered an online voting marathon, which gave the public the chance to vote for their favorite business.

TBC Bank and Geocell both helped the participant companies in their marketing campaigns, which resulted in massive social media coverage.

The award design - symbolizing unlimited possibilities - was made by Zviad Tsikolia, a famous Georgian designer.

“The Business Awards Project is a huge success! More than a million people were engaged in the project through social media and other platforms,” said Nika Kurdiani, deputy CEO of TBC Bank. “The hashtag Gaaziare Tsarmateba (Share Success) was used over 100,000 times, which allows me to say that our aim to promote the notion of business-making, support start-ups and medium and small scale enterprises worked extremely well, and it’s the public involvement that made it possible. We have to grow and expand this community of people further each year.”

“Initially, when the idea of the Business Awards was first brought up at TBC Bank, I was hesitant, as I wasn’t sure that people would be interested,” admitted Vakhtang Butskhrikidze, CEO of TBC Bank. “But I was proven wrong. Each of the participants is a leader who not only shares a success story, but inspires others. I hope that next year, together with our partner Geocell, we will see even more companies involved and engaged, both as participants and as organizers of the Business Awards. I would like to thank the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, Entrepreneurship Development Agency, and Geocell, of course, for their partnership and support,” Butskhrikidze said.

First Vice President of Georgia Dimitry Kumsishvili, thanked TBC Bank and TBC Group, highlighting that they are “always one step ahead in all initiatives,” particularly when it concerns assisting various business entrepreneurship programs and projects.

“TBC Bank is our main partner in developing medium and small scale enterprises. We have made considerable achievements so far, with ten thousand workplaces and a 470 million investment potential created, but we want to achieve much more,” Kumsishvili said. “I believe that, with projects like the Business Awards, we’ll stimulate the creation of new companies and new ideas, which will ultimately lead to more employment opportunities and benefit the economic growth of our country.”

Kumsishvili then announced the winner of the Small Business of the Year category - White Studio, a company that produces ceramic products from Georgian white clay (see page 9).

“But everyone is a winner today,” said Ivane Matchavariani, the commercial director of Geocell. “It’s impossible not to recognize the efforts each of the participants. I have no doubt they each have a bright future ahead,” he said, before announcing the Geocell prize for Innovative Business of the Year category, BiochimPharm a manufacturer of biological preparations for treatment using bacteriophages. The lucky winner will be attending the Innovation Summit in Lisbon in 2017, a massive event that brings together more than 1000 companies and investors from around the world.

Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, Ketevan Bochorishvili, emphasized that tourism is a top priority for Georgia and spoke about the importance of introducing and supporting successful business companies and entrepreneurs. Barbarestan, a family-owned Georgian restaurant, was then declared the winner in the Touristic Business category.

“Georgian production is immensely important for our country. It brings talent, information and technology exchange that increase the future potential,” said Jean-Frederic Paulsen, the chairman of the Board at ISET Georgia. “Having myself also started a business in Georgia, I can share with you that Georgia is indeed a place where you can start producing or developing your ideas and I do encourage my friends from abroad to come and invest in Georgia.”

He went on to announce the winner for the Georgian Product of the Year category - Badagi, the company producing Churchkhela, a Georgian snack.

Anna Kvaratskhelia, the director of the Entrepreneurship Development Agency of Georgia, said she was delighted to see TBC Bank and Geocell’s joint initiative. She announced the winner in the category Agro-business of the Year – BPC, a juice company.

Kings, an educational management company, was named winner in the People’s Choice Category, announced by Ako Akhalaia, the founder of and the marketing director at Silk Road Group. Akhalaia noted a positive and encouraging trend in Georgian media: a growing interest in covering successful business entrepreneurship stories.

Publishers Books in Batumi was competing in the same category and lost to Kings by only 17 votes. “In a very short time, Books in Batumi has achieved a 20% market share, in part due to a brilliant marketing campaign during the business awards competition, so they also deserve a very special mention and congratulations, too,” Kurdiani noted.

The final nomination for Business of the Year, Zeta Camping, was announced by Mamuka Khazaradze, chairman of TBC Bank. Zeta Camping has a camping and hotel facility in Kazbegi.

“We’re witnessing an extremely significant moment, a historic one,” he said. “A day when a new generation of businesses is born, a new wave representing the third generation of Georgian business; of people who create workplaces and employment opportunities out of a single idea; of people who, despite difficulties, made a product, established themselves on the market, built up a team of professionals and are now moving forward. The challenges they have faced included limited cash flow, lack of marketing resources, and a lack of qualified personnel. But they have succeeded. They will be major players in the field, creating a new reality in Georgia, a country with the potential to become a center of innovations and start-ups; ideas that cross the borders of our nation,” Khazaradze said.

21 November 2016 18:02