Dadari in Tbilisi is much more than just a toy company. Out of the firm’s seven employees, three have learning disabilities. All of the firm's products comply with EU standards. The toys are made from solid wood and painted in organic colours. Dadari was able to expand its business after obtaining 25,000 Georgian Lari - just over 8,000 euros - from Credo Bank. The mircrofinance was made possible, thanks to credit provided by Europe.
Dardari's own experience is a great example of how microfinance can foster entrepreneurship. In Georgia, the European Union, through the European Investment Bank, is working with local lenders to help very small businesses get the money they need to grow. As part of its programme the EIB made 5 million USD (4.4 million euros) available to Credo Bank in Georgia.
"The European Investment Bank facility targets micro and small enterprises. The credit line allows us to provide affordable as well as medium to long-term funding to undeserved entrepreneurs."Nana Tughushi, Investors Relations Manager at Credo Bank
"Our enterprise needed a loan to expand the existing production. We used the money to renovate the existing premises, to rent additional space and to buy materials, necessary for the production."Archil Gobejishvili, CEO Dadari
More than just a business
Finding work for those with special needs in Georgia is next to impossible, making Dadari almost unique and a real ray of light. The company's founder Merab Kuchukhidze started making wooden toys in Tbilisi in the 1990s. The toys are simple enough to inspire imaginative play, but accurate enough to evoke realism.
Dadari already distributes and sells across Germany via the online platform etsy, but is hoping to grow when Georgia fully aligns itself with EU production standards next year.
"The plan is to expand our production, to build new contacts with European companies, to offer corporate services to successful businesses, which will give us the opportunity to employ more people and strengthen the social element inside the company," Gobejishvili says.
Credo Bank is one of the leading banks in Georgia's microfinance market. It operates 65 service centres and supports around 230,000 customers throughout the country. The bank seeks to provide sustainable financial services to micro, small and medium-sized businesses, with a preference for rural activities and businesses that create income and employment opportunities.
"Since the launch of the programme earlier this year we have supported up to 5000 companies out of which half are run by women and 70 percent are farmers," Tughushi says.
She adds, "Those interested can visit our service centres spread across the country or go online. What is most important to know, we provide advisory services for start-ups and rural entrepreneurs."