“When you go into business on your own, you tend to make do with what you have and see credit more as a risk. I think that is a healthy approach in the beginning. But there comes a time when taking out a loan becomes an opportunity,” says Teimuraz Meqvevrishvili, who borrowed from Bank Republic to invest in his buisness, with support made available under the European Fund for South East Europe (EFSE), and EU4Business.
“Back in 2000, I was out of a job and prospects in Georgia were not too bright. There was this old oil press in the family barn, however, and that got me thinking. Fifteen years later, my sunflower oil is the pride of the family and a condiment appreciated by connoisseurs throughout the region,” Teimuraz Meqvevrishvili whispers with a hint of pride.
For fourteen of those years, Teimuraz worked with the ancient press that he’d inherited. It made work slower and the yield was not so good, but at least, he told himself, “that old press gives it a touch of authenticity”.
Demand kept rising
Yet as demand kept rising and productivity kept falling, it became clearer and clearer to Teimuraz that he had to do something about the press. He also realised that the special authentic taste of his product came from the quality of his sunflowers, not the rusty cogs of his antediluvian press.
“I was always focused on keeping costs down and that’s why I kept working the old press, demanding more and more from it. And paying more and more in repairs, which, besides being expensive, also kept me from making my oil,” he remembers.
“The people at Bank Republic were amazed it took me so long to think about investing in the future, but they also thought I had been wise to be cautious,” Teimuraz continues.
In 2014, he took out his first loan and installed a new press. Result: not only more oil, but also better oil. “Demand is up, too, and I’m going to be able to hire my first employee.”
European Fund for South East Europe
Part of the EU4Business initiative, the European Fund for South East Europe aims to foster economic development and prosperity through the sustainable provision of additional development finance, notably to micro and small enterprises (MSEs) and to private households, via qualified local financial institutions like Bank Republic in Georgia.
Under the EU4Business initiative, EFSE has disbursed almost 44,000 sub-loans to small businesses like that of Teimuraz in Georgia, with an average loan size of almost €12,000.