EBRD provides expert advice for Georgia’s ACT Global
ACT Global, the marketing research company, has offices in three countries and operates in over 10. We had international ambitions from the very start.
The company was established in 2002 by four friends, including myself. We started with one office in Georgia, then opened one in Baku in Azerbaijan in 2010 and another in Kazakhstan in 2014.
We started providing quantitative and qualitative marketing research, based on focus groups, interviews, “mystery shopping” when a researcher shops anonymously, and other techniques. Soon, many companies realised what a great tool this was.
Our original clients have expanded dramatically over the last decade. Look at companies such as Wissol or Borjomi water which now exports to 26 countries.
We grew too and in 2008 we became the leading marketing research company in the country. But the Georgian market is small. So we started looking elsewhere!
For example, we first started working with the regional furniture makers Embawood here in Georgia and then in Azerbaijan – at a time when nobody knew us in Azerbaijan. They introduced some changes to their product lines and their communications strategy using our data. Embawood is also present in Kazakhstan where we have now set up an office.
With the EBRD, we cooperate in two ways: we are consultants and provide our services to companies that work with the Bank’s Small Business Support (SBS) team, and we ourselves have used grants and financial support from SBS to develop special software to double the number of our telephone interviews for marketing research.
What we need now is to improve the international management of our company. The EBRD’s SBS is putting us in touch with international experts on this field. Maybe we could have figured it all out by ourselves, but we simply don’t want to waste time discovering where we went wrong. So we are practising what we preach: getting expert advice.
Tinatin Rukhadze is General Director, ACT Global