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04.07.2017

Baking for Social Change in Gelati

Between 2006 and 2015, People in Need (PIN) has supported through small grants and training the creation in West Georgia of over 150 small businesses, and 4 social enterprises employing vulnerable people. We came back this year to visit several of these businesses and social enterprises, and would like to share with you the story of "Okriba Sun", a bakery opened in 2013 in Gelati village. Okriba Sun' is not a bakery in the conventional sense. Yes, it is a business. But it is a business designed with a specific mission to improve the social situation of vulnerable families in Gelati. In the first 5 years of its existence, ‘Okriba Sun' has proved that a social enterprise is an effective model to generate positive social and economic results.

 

Like in many other villages of Imereti, the unemployment rate is very high in Gelati. 75 % of the families in the community lives below the poverty line. There are no viable local businesses, factories or other employment opportunities.
The story of ‘Okriba Sun' starts very simply. It starts with a woman, a teacher and her desire to help people improve their lives.

 

Eliso Matskepladze is a teacher in Gelati school. Every day, she instructs Gelati's children. She knows their parents. She sees their problems and empathizes with them.

 

Eliso is a dynamic teacher, with a leader's heart and character. Because of her caring personality, her colleagues and the community trust her. Over the course of many years in Gelati, she and her husband have expressed a strong sense of social responsibility. They supported the socially unprotected people of their community as much as they could mainly with food and clothes.


"As a teacher, every day I was in close contact with the children of extremely poor families. It was very painful for me to see how they lacked everything - not having food to eat nor sufficient clothes to wear. For many years, my husband and I were thinking about how to change this dire situation. Every idea we had required financial resources. We just didn't have the capacity to help all the people who were in need," says Eliso.


In 2013, PIN announced a Call for Proposals for establishing social enterprises that would create workplaces for socially unprotected groups of population. For many years, Eliso had the idea to establish a bakery as a social enterprise.
"This call was an opportunity for me and the whole community. PIN staff provided me with technical support to design a business plan for a social enterprise - a bakery - which could transform the way local villagers think about society while creating real possibilities for a better life."


After only 3 months of construction, in which Eliso's family co-invested 32,400 USD the bakery, located in a small, one-floor building on the main road was operational. It was fully equipped with all the necessary equipment provided by PIN.


With PIN's support, the bakery started selecting six young people from very poor families. This was not so easy. People were naturally afraid of losing their social benefits if they were employed. In spite of the challenges, six people from very poor families with many children were selected and sent to Turkey for 10 days of training. Upon their return, the newly developed trained bakers soon became popular in Gelati and the surrounding communities.


The bakery started production of an "eco-bread", which was wrapped in eco-friendly packages. This was an innovative approach at that time not only for the Gelati community but also for Georgia.


The popularity of the bakery exceeded everyone's expectations. After the first year, the demand raised more than 50 % (from 1,100 kg to 2,300 kg processed flour per month) and they soon realized that six bakers were not enough to meet the demand. As a result, six more young people from vulnerable families were hired and trained.


"The successful start of the enterprise and income gave us an opportunity to take care of socially unprotected families by providing them with free bread on a daily basis. They were also given Easter and Christmas baskets twice a year, which they continue to receive up to today. In addition, the enterprise funded various entertainment and educational events for the children of the vulnerable families. Every year on Children's International Day the Bakery is arrangning various kinds of events, with dances, songs, competitions and sweets for the kids. Besides, the Bakery takes the responsibility to provide kids of the poorest families of the community with school backpacks and books.


Our approach to solving community problems is not to give fish but to teach people how to fish. For this reason, 50% of the annual net profit of the bakery is set aside for developing different labor skills, such as baking, electrician, plumber, veterinary etc. This strategy creates real diverse possibilities and helps our people be competitive in the labor market," says Eliso.


The bakery has been so successful that distribution of its products has reached Kutaisi, more than 8 kilometers away. Other neighboring villages also buy their bread at the bakery. This is an unimaginable success, as described by Eliso. They now plan to expand into other cities such as Samtredia, Zestaponi, Terjola and hire more employees.


Davit is one of the first employees of the bakery. We asked him about the changes "Okriba Sun" brought to his life. "I live in a big family, together with parents, 2 sisters and a brother. Our main source of income was the state social allowances, which was 25 GEL per family member. It wasn't enough even to buy bread for a month. Employment at the bakery gave me an opportunity to acquire new skills and a profession. I was sent for training at a renowned bakery in Turkey. This foreign experience taught me how to bake different kinds of delicious bread, which soon became popular in Gelati and neighboring villages. It is a pleasure and also a great responsibility to realize that so many families depend on your bread. It gives me a feeling of being important which bolsters my self-confidence and determination. I know that in the future I will work for other bakeries or maybe even open one for myself. But I will never forget "Okriba Sun" because it there that I started living my new life!"


Davit is only one of the many success stories associated with this social enterprise. In 2014, because of its location on the main highway between Kutaisi and Tkibuli, Eliso and the other cofounders of the bakery decided to build a café next to the bakery. "Okriba Sun" and a lovely café are providing locals as well as tourists visiting Gelati monastery with 6 kinds of bread, coffee and sweets. Most important now is that the bakery and café employee more than 25 people. This means that 25 families with better living conditions and hope for the future.


In 2013, ‘Okriba' bakery was awarded a small grant and received long-term training and coaching support in the frame of the project "Support of socially unprotected youth and their family members in regions of West Georgia" and was financed by the Czech Development Agency.

creation in West Georgia of over 150 small businesses, and 4 social enterprises employing vulnerable people. We came back this year to visit several of these businesses and social enterprises, and would like to share with you the story of "Okriba Sun", a bakery opened in 2013 in Gelati village. Okriba Sun' is not a bakery in the conventional sense. Yes, it is a business. But it is a business designed with a specific mission to improve the social situation of vulnerable families in Gelati. In the first 5 years of its existence, ‘Okriba Sun' has proved that a social enterprise is an effective model to generate positive social and economic results.

 

Like in many other villages of Imereti, the unemployment rate is very high in Gelati. 75 % of the families in the community lives below the poverty line. There are no viable local businesses, factories or other employment opportunities.
The story of ‘Okriba Sun' starts very simply. It starts with a woman, a teacher and her desire to help people improve their lives.

 

Eliso Matskepladze is a teacher in Gelati school. Every day, she instructs Gelati's children. She knows their parents. She sees their problems and empathizes with them.

 

Eliso is a dynamic teacher, with a leader's heart and character. Because of her caring personality, her colleagues and the community trust her. Over the course of many years in Gelati, she and her husband have expressed a strong sense of social responsibility. They supported the socially unprotected people of their community as much as they could mainly with food and clothes.


"As a teacher, every day I was in close contact with the children of extremely poor families. It was very painful for me to see how they lacked everything - not having food to eat nor sufficient clothes to wear. For many years, my husband and I were thinking about how to change this dire situation. Every idea we had required financial resources. We just didn't have the capacity to help all the people who were in need," says Eliso.


In 2013, PIN announced a Call for Proposals for establishing social enterprises that would create workplaces for socially unprotected groups of population. For many years, Eliso had the idea to establish a bakery as a social enterprise.
"This call was an opportunity for me and the whole community. PIN staff provided me with technical support to design a business plan for a social enterprise - a bakery - which could transform the way local villagers think about society while creating real possibilities for a better life."


After only 3 months of construction, in which Eliso's family co-invested 32,400 USD the bakery, located in a small, one-floor building on the main road was operational. It was fully equipped with all the necessary equipment provided by PIN.


With PIN's support, the bakery started selecting six young people from very poor families. This was not so easy. People were naturally afraid of losing their social benefits if they were employed. In spite of the challenges, six people from very poor families with many children were selected and sent to Turkey for 10 days of training. Upon their return, the newly developed trained bakers soon became popular in Gelati and the surrounding communities.


The bakery started production of an "eco-bread", which was wrapped in eco-friendly packages. This was an innovative approach at that time not only for the Gelati community but also for Georgia.


The popularity of the bakery exceeded everyone's expectations. After the first year, the demand raised more than 50 % (from 1,100 kg to 2,300 kg processed flour per month) and they soon realized that six bakers were not enough to meet the demand. As a result, six more young people from vulnerable families were hired and trained.


"The successful start of the enterprise and income gave us an opportunity to take care of socially unprotected families by providing them with free bread on a daily basis. They were also given Easter and Christmas baskets twice a year, which they continue to receive up to today. In addition, the enterprise funded various entertainment and educational events for the children of the vulnerable families. Every year on Children's International Day the Bakery is arrangning various kinds of events, with dances, songs, competitions and sweets for the kids. Besides, the Bakery takes the responsibility to provide kids of the poorest families of the community with school backpacks and books.


Our approach to solving community problems is not to give fish but to teach people how to fish. For this reason, 50% of the annual net profit of the bakery is set aside for developing different labor skills, such as baking, electrician, plumber, veterinary etc. This strategy creates real diverse possibilities and helps our people be competitive in the labor market," says Eliso.


The bakery has been so successful that distribution of its products has reached Kutaisi, more than 8 kilometers away. Other neighboring villages also buy their bread at the bakery. This is an unimaginable success, as described by Eliso. They now plan to expand into other cities such as Samtredia, Zestaponi, Terjola and hire more employees.


Davit is one of the first employees of the bakery. We asked him about the changes "Okriba Sun" brought to his life. "I live in a big family, together with parents, 2 sisters and a brother. Our main source of income was the state social allowances, which was 25 GEL per family member. It wasn't enough even to buy bread for a month. Employment at the bakery gave me an opportunity to acquire new skills and a profession. I was sent for training at a renowned bakery in Turkey. This foreign experience taught me how to bake different kinds of delicious bread, which soon became popular in Gelati and neighboring villages. It is a pleasure and also a great responsibility to realize that so many families depend on your bread. It gives me a feeling of being important which bolsters my self-confidence and determination. I know that in the future I will work for other bakeries or maybe even open one for myself. But I will never forget "Okriba Sun" because it there that I started living my new life!"


Davit is only one of the many success stories associated with this social enterprise. In 2014, because of its location on the main highway between Kutaisi and Tkibuli, Eliso and the other cofounders of the bakery decided to build a café next to the bakery. "Okriba Sun" and a lovely café are providing locals as well as tourists visiting Gelati monastery with 6 kinds of bread, coffee and sweets. Most important now is that the bakery and café employee more than 25 people. This means that 25 families with better living conditions and hope for the future.


In 2013, ‘Okriba' bakery was awarded a small grant and received long-term training and coaching support in the frame of the project "Support of socially unprotected youth and their family members in regions of West Georgia" and was financed by the Czech Development Agency.

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