Georgia: Clean Start

Struggling through a challenging start-up, Tika discovered that she could receive help from the Batumi Business Incubator. Photo: Guram Sakvarelidze/UNDP
Struggling through a challenging start-up, Tika discovered that she could receive help from the Batumi Business Incubator. Photo: Guram Sakvarelidze/UNDP

Starting her own cleaning business was challenging for Tika Vetriakova, 29, a young entrepreneur from Georgia. She began with a mere 5 workers. Today, with UNDP’s support, ‘Clean World Ajara’ is thriving and now employs almost 200 women.

Highlights

  • Over 80% of the incubated companies succeed in their endeavours.
  • Unemployment rates in Ajara are among the highest in Georgia at 16.5%.
  • Women earn 60% less than men, and their workforce is 27% smaller.
  • Only 20% of businesses are run by women.

“When I first came in business nobody believed that I could succeed with no experience and limited resources. I did not have enough people and had to knock on every door to get a contract,” says Tika.

Tika’s company provides professional cleaning services to a number of hotels, restaurants and government offices in Batumi, a port city on Georgia’s Black Sea coast.  

In Georgia, poverty and unemployment remain high in many regions despite the economic growth the country enjoyed in recent years.  Unemployment rates in Ajara are among the highest in Georgia – 16.5 percent vs. 15.0 percent nationwide (Source: GEOSTAT). The gender divide in the country is wide. Women earn 60 percent less than men, and their workforce is 27 percent smaller. Only 20 percent of businesses are run by women.

Struggling through a challenging start-up, Tika discovered that she could receive professional help from the Batumi Business Incubator (BBI). Established in 2009 by UNDP and the local government with generous assistance from Romania and Finland, the programme assists emerging small businesses to become stronger and more sustainable. The BBI provides quality office space and business support services such as management assistance, strategic development, financial analysis, legal support, and fosters relationships with financial institutions. Business advisors also closely monitor the progress made by participating companies to ensure growth. Clean World Ajara was among the first companies to enroll.

“The Incubator eased the burden of everyday problems and I could focus on my venture. I have attended training and consultations to learn about finance, marketing and human resources”, said Tika.

Thirty local enterprises benefited from the BBI during last five years. Eleven businesses have scaled-up sufficiently to operate independently. Over 80 percent of the incubated companies succeed in their endeavours - a high figure, according to the National Business Incubation Association.

Clean World Ajara is now one of the most successful small businesses in the region. Blue uniforms of Tika’s cleaners can be spotted in and around Batumi.

“I chased an opportunity and did everything in my power to succeed.  Hard work paid off.  Now I have new goals to pursue. Clean World Ajara is just a beginning.”