EU and UNDP help Georgian firm shift production to meet pandemic challenges
Founded in 2007 CaucasPack produces disposable packaging materials. The company is a leader in this field on the Georgian market, and successfully exports products to the region. CaucasPack’s production line operates advanced high-tech equipment that produces environmentally friendly and high-quality products. The company employs professional workers, whose qualification and motivation is the top priority of the management.
In the spring of 2020, when Georgia introduced strict regulations to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the company, like most other business operators, faced many difficulties. According to Mr. Amiran Tsertsvadze, CaucasPack founder and CEO, even in those challenging times the company’s goal was to fully retain their staff. With the support of the European Union and the United Nations Development Program, in response to the Covid-19 crisis CaucasPack adjusted its production and managed to retain all of its 99 employees.
“We carefully watched developments around the world and looked for ways to stay operational, and then we had the idea to start producing face shields and providing them to the medical staff who had to work tirelessly in the epicenter of the pandemic,” says Amiran Tsertsvadze.
CaucasPack is a member of the Packaging Manufacturers Association of Georgia (PMAG Cluster). This business association was established within the framework of the EU-funded UNDP project ‘EU Innovative Action for Private Sector Competitiveness in Georgia’. The initiative aims to assist the packaging industry and its members by increasing competitiveness and expanding cooperation at various stages of the supply chain. The PMAG Cluster unites producers of packaging materials operating in Tbilisi, Imereti and Kakheti.
In early 2020, the crisis caused by the pandemic significantly reduced the global economic development, which also had an impact on Georgia. A joint survey by the EU and UNDP shows that more than half of the packaging companies have lost 50% of their revenue due to the pandemic, while 83% of the companies believe that the pandemic poses a serious threat to their business. However, 88% have no business disruption insurance and 58% have no own or alternative financial resources to survive through the crisis. With this in mind, it became necessary to support Georgian business and help overcome the crisis caused by the pandemic.
According to Konstantine Chanturia, UNDP Project Manager, the structural strengthening of CaucasPack was made possible with the support of EU and UNDP:
“In the very first days of the pandemic, CaucasPack came up with the initiative to produce and deliver face-shields for the front-line healthcare workers and public officials. With the support of the European Union and the United Nations Development Program, the company assessed the PPE demand in Georgia as 40,000 units. In order to meet the demand, CaucasPack fully redesigned its production line and produced up to 1,500 shields per day. This initiative and the appearance of the Georgian-made face-shields on the market reduced the prices by up to 30%, making them more affordable. In addition, it is an example of a high-quality PPE produced locally, which is important both in terms of fighting COVID-19 and promoting and developing local business during the pandemic.”
In the first phase, CaucasPack delivered the PPE free of charge to all major hospitals involved in receiving and treating COVID-19 patients at the time. Then it became practically impossible to meet the growing demand with the company’s existing resources. It was at that time that the EU stepped in fully supporting CaucasPack and making it possible to produce tens of thousands of the face-shields and distributing them across the country.
The Swiss and Austrian governments also took part in the initiative, which, in cooperation with the UNDP, ordered thousands of face-shields from CaucasPack and handed them over to Georgian medical workers, local public officials and civil society activists in Georgia’s municipalities.
“The pandemic has caused immense damage to businesses and the economy, both in our country and globally. Our company was no exception. Sales have dropped dramatically and we are not yet back to pre-pandemic indicators. Had it not been for our decision to produce the new product, we would have found ourselves in a more difficult situation against the background of reduced sales. The support has helped us accomplish two main goals: first, provide face-shields to the medical staff who had direct contact with the infected, and second, fully retain our staff despite the pandemic,” says Amiran.
CaucasPack’s initiative has maintained stable jobs and income for the 99 employees, which is especially important during the pandemic, when many people lose their jobs both in Georgia and around the world.
CaucasPack’s employee Eka Solomnishvili says COVID-19 has changed the agenda and challenged the company to develop and implement a new plan. “With the steps we have taken, we not only kept the jobs, but also provided PPE to many medical facilities and workers. We are proud of our every employee. Now I believe that our team can definitely find a solution to any challenging situation”.
Today, CaucasPack manufactures several types of face-shields. According to the company, the demand for PPE significantly decreased in summer, but after the second wave of the pandemic, the face-shields became a popular product again.
“Every employee has made a great contribution to the success of our company. Maintaining jobs is critically important to us; it is our primary goal. We are sure that overcoming the difficulties has strengthened our team and after the global crisis is over, we will achieve a greater success. The support of the European Union and the United Nations Development Program has been crucial to this success,” says Amiran Tsertsvadze.
CaucasPack continues to manufacture face-shields. With the EU and UNDP support, the company has already distributed 40,900 pieces of the PPE throughout Georgia. CaucasPack also partners with other members of the packaging supply chain, contributing to the development of this sector and identifying new initiatives and business projects.