Twenty-eight-year-old Salome Kardava, an internally displaced person (IDP) from the occupied territory of Abkhazia, lives with her husband and children in the city of Zugdidi. A long time ago, Salome’s parents were left on the other side of the occupational line and as Salome have not had appropriate documents, she could not visit them. Salome was struggling to find a way to bring her parents to Zugdidi and provide them with a peaceful life. As such, she decided to turn her hobby into a small business, become self-reliant and financially independent to see her parents again.

Salome has been interested in plant growing, especially flowers and succulents, since childhood. At first, it was just a hobby for her – she helped to decorate friends’ wedding parties and other kinds of events. But later she realized that it was possible to get a profit from this activity. The breaking point for Salome was the participation in the RDFG’s Regional Youth Entrepreneurship Program that helped her dreams to come true.

After getting funded with an amount of Gel 6 462, she started to cultivate a piece of land to build a small flower greenhouse of 150 sq. Shortly, after a young entrepreneur started the realization of the flowers, the City Hall of Zugdidi contacted her and make a big order of succulents for the landscape design of the city, after which the latter has become one of Salome’s main customers. It is noteworthy that currently, Salome has negotiations with the Zugdidi Botanical Garden, too, later to take responsibility for decorating the particular sections of the garden with her unique succulents.

After Salome started running her small enterprise, she has been invited to local exhibitions of plants and flowers, where her unique succulents are sold out. In a long-run, Salome plans to open a succulent shop in the city of Zugdidi that will also serve as a café for locals and tourists. It is also noteworthy that Salome is one of the founders of the non-governmental organization “Hands for Peace” and often hosts women from occupied Abkhazia and helps them to study various handcrafts, later to be able to start own small businesses.

Salome Kardava is one of ten young people, who were eventually selected and awarded grants within the two phases of the program held in Summer and Fall of 2019. The Program winners developed the projects from agriculture and creative industries, such as production of rye and buckwheat bread and biscuits in Gori; production of succulent plants in Zugdidi; support to production of traditional Georgian folk instruments in Kaspi; production of piquant jams in Aspinda; support to small sewing shop in Adigeni; production of iron engraved crafts in Kaspi; support to nail salon in Bolnisi; production of apple vinegar in Gori; electrical service in Kaspi; and support to the online platform Ra Vachuko in Zugdidi.

The Regional Youth Entrepreneurship Program is implemented in the framework of the USAID Zrda Activity by the Association Rural Development for Future Georgia (RDFG), and supported by Enterprise Georgia, Creative Georgia, Georgia’s Innovation and Technology Agency, National Tourism Administration, Agricultural Projects’ Management Agency, Financial Inclusion Organization Crystal, National Bank of Georgia, and TBC Bank.

Author
Nina Kopaleishvili – Communications Officer, RDFG; nkopaleishvili@rdfg.ge