My Village: Establishing Local furniture production in Khulo

Guram Abuladze, a resident of the village of Vashlovani in Khulo Municipality, started woodworking as a child, and a few years ago his long-held dream came true: he and his villagers came together to open a woodworking shop Techno Georgiafor mass furniture manufacturing.

First, the craftsman did not have enough resources to satisfy customer needs and had to import furniture from Turkey. Yet Guram wanted to manufacture furniture in Georgia, so he applied for the EU-funded initiative managed by the Khulo Local Action Group (LAG) in 2019, and promoted his business to a new stage. He relocated his operations, moving from a small enterprise to a 3,000-square-meter building with state-of-the-art equipment. Currently Guram and his team of 35 local people create modern-design and high-quality furniture.

The Khulo LAG funds projects that meet the priorities of the municipality’s local development strategy. Aslan Tunadze from the Khulo LAG tells us that the strategy sets our six priority directions: “Before making a call for proposals, we tell the communities to adapt their projects to the strategic priorities. In this way, we try to equally support rural tourism and promote agricultural and non-agricultural activities and business. The Khulo LAG has funded a total of 73 projects that have had a significant impact on the municipality’s everyday life.”

One of these projects was Guram Abuladze’s woodwork shop initiative that made his dream come true – Guram finally gave up importing and starting manufacturing Georgian furniture. His furniture competes well with imported items, so Techno Georgia is succeeding to its place at the domestic market, appearing at shopping centers in different Georgian towns. This is a good opportunity to expand and employ more local residents. Within the year, Guram has increased the number of employees from 8 to 35, which is a great visible result.

“The EU project and Khulo LAG completely changed our activities. If we only used to make soft furniture frames, now we perform the full furniture production cycle. We do a lot of processes that we couldn’t handle before. In addition, we employ many more people, including women, from the surrounding villages, and plan to increase the number of employed women even more in the near future, “ said Guram Abuladze.

The Khulo LAG carried out needs asssessments in local communities and started supporting them to meet the needs, namely, by promoting agricultural and non-agricultural businesses so that locally manufactured products would become an important part of sales not only the municipality and the region, but all over the country.

“Techno Georgia and its products are of great importance for Khulo. Under the LAG project, Guram is one of the beneficiaries who could significantly developed and expand business. The LAG team worked vigorously to develop businesses in Khulo. We are happy to see Techno Georgia’s success: while many businesses were down during the pandemic, Techno Georgia did not stop at any stage, and we are happy and proud of them, “Aslan Tunadze says.

Furniture made in highland Adjara is in high demand in several other regions of Georgia. According to Guram, the enterprise once had an order for more than 30 pieces of furniture at a time, which they produced within a week. Even buyers making private orders have to only wait for a day or two.

“Thanks to enhanced human or technical resources, we now can handle many more orders. Our key clients are furniture shops from different regions. They show us foreign models and we make similar ones at a much lower price. Our mission is to compete with imported goods and create a quality Georgian product that would stay in demand at the market, “says Guram Abuladze.

Guram would like to further expand production and establish himself at the domestic market, in order to help substitute imports with local production, increase local employment, and improve the overall economic situation: “Now after the success of this project, we will never back down. I believe that we will always move forward, grow, develop and employ even more locals,” says Guram Abuladze.

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