AGBC Annual Conference
Driving FDI, Supporting Entrepreneurs
The Honorable Nicholas Berliner, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of the United States in Georgia
The AGBC was very proud to host its 18th Annual Conference. For nearly 20 years the mission of the AGBC has been to drive bi-lateral trade and investment and to improve the business environment in Georgia. This year's conference, which included two OPIC loan signings, and the First Annual Grow Georgia Competition, was a major milestone in the AGBC's efforts to identify attractive business opportunities for quality US investments.
Despite regional instability and headwinds across emerging markets, Georgian business leaders continue to drive growth through a combination of discipline, best practices, and innovation.
The AGBC couldn't be happier than to highlight GMT Group and the Wissol Petroleum Group, two leading businesses that exemplify those virtues and that have received financing from the Overseas Investment Corporation of the United States (OPIC).
Both companies conducted their loan signings with the Honorable Mildred Callear, Vice President for Financial and Portfolio Management of OPIC. Mr. Kenneth Angell, Managing Director for SMEF of OPIC was on present as well for the ceremony.
The Honorable Mildred Callear of OPIC with Mr. George Tavadze, President of GMT Group.
GMT Group: GMT Group signed a $18 million loan with OPIC for the construction of the Moxy Hotel, to be located in a prime location in Tbilisi near the river Mtkvari. The Moxy brand is a new budget segment for Marriott and Marriott international has chosen Tbilisi, and GMT as its first location and developer partner, respectively, to roll out the new brand. The financing will enable the completion of separate office space and a new restaurant.
Wissol Petroleum Group: Wissol Petroleum Group, through its subsidiary D&B Georgia signed a loan for $10.6 million USD with OPIC for the expansion of Dunkin' Donuts franchise in Georgia. Wissol Group has opened out multiple Wendy's and Dunkin' Donuts locations throughout Tbilisi; rather than just replicating existing models in other market's Wissol Group has implemented innovative practices within their stores to drive revenue per square foot, including kids play areas and frosty stations that appeal to birthday parties and other special occasions. These models are now being reviewed by Dunkin' Donuts and Wendy's in the US for their possible replication in other markets, an exciting endorsement of Georgian capacity for business innovation in existing international brands.
The AGBC was thrilled to announce the winners of the First Annual AGBC "Grow Georgia Business Plan Competition"
The winners in order were:
First Place “Gulf” Prize - $5000 - RESERVED.GE
Second Place “Georgian American Alloys” Prize - $3000 - NEBULA LLC
Third Place “BP” Prize - $2000 - LTD Promo Bike
Runners Up – “SC Fuels” and “GMT” Prizes- $1000 (each) - Bulberry and Gopher
The Council will be sending out further information from the winners and runners up including their business plans and contact details before the end of the year.
- Founder of Mercedes Fashion Week, Sophia Tchkonia-
In addition to the exciting announcements regarding OPIC and the Grow Georgia Competition, the AGBC was the first trade / business council to showcase Georgian fashion as a leading industry in Georgia. The fashion panel, moderated by Lisa Kaestner, Manager in Europe and Eurasia, Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice, World Bank Group, had two high profile participants from the world of Georgian fashion.
Maka Kvitsiani, Founder of Dalood Group
Sophia Tchkonia, Founder of Mercedes Fashion Week
Since the conference, Georgia has received substantial media coverage for Mercedes Fashion Week Tbilisi. Some highlights are available below:
From Vogue: Step off, Gucci fur-lined loafers! Italian shoe designers—and frankly, shoe designers the world over—may want to glance nervously over their shoulders: Some of the coolest, most skillfully crafted footwear we’ve seen recently is coming straight out of Georgia. Take it from what was on the runways of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi Spring 2016. The weekend was a testament to the flourishing fashion scene in and around the post-Soviet republic, and almost every designer who showed also created their own shoes.
Hon. Keti Bochorishvili, Deputy Minister of Economy, Government of Georgia
Ms. Bochorishvili, a longtime friend of the AGBC and the bi-lateral business community, gave a keynote address to the conference participants about Georgia's business climate and the direction of Georgia's development.
- OPIC's Kenneth Angell with Archil Gachechiladze of Bank of Georgia -
The AGBC hosted its first ever Finance and Banking panel, moderated by Ms. Randee Day, CEO of Day & Partners, LLC. The panel included notable industry leaders including:
Archil Gachechiladze, Deputy CEO, Bank of Georgia
Giorgi Akhalaia, Commercial Director, Smartex
Davit Tsiklauri, Deputy CEO, TBC
The participants discussed everything from currency fluctuations, to central banking policy, to the potential for Georgia to develop capital markets including trading desks for commodities and sovereign debt in the Eurasian region.
Kenneth Angell moderated a panel on Healthcare and Opportunities for investment in both the hospital and pharmaceutical sector. Several participants, including Ms. Ani Karalashvili, CEO of Emedica LLC and Mr. Enrico Beridze and Mr. Misha Abramidze of ABC Pharmaceuticals engaged in a lively discussion on the market place and government regulations.