The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has signed a €4.6 million loan agreement with Gedebey Mineral Sulari, one of the leading bottled water producers in Azerbaijan. The funds will be used to purchase new equipment to increase the company’s production capacity, in order to respond to fast-growing product demand and to strengthen its distribution.
Established in 2010 as a privately owned company, Gedebey produces premium local water under the brands Slavyanka and Gedebey. From a start-up phase in 2010, the company has evolved to become one of the leading bottled water companies in the country, owing to the popularity of its quality water.
The company is based in the Lower Caucasian Mountains, a region of Gedebey famous for its water, which is claimed by locals to have remedial and medicinal qualities. Gedebey capitalised on the popularity of its water and gained a significant market share of the bottled water market in Azerbaijan in the three years of its existence.
The EBRD’s Early Transition Countries (ETC) Fund* has provided financing for the company to conduct market research and strategic analysis, as well as consulting on legal and marketing issues. This technical cooperation project has been an important factor enabling Gedebey to secure EBRD financing and to make further progress towards a successful future.
The EBRD financing will be used for the acquisition of modern bottle filling equipment to sustain Gedebey’s ambitious growth targets, and to improve its packaging and labelling to international standards. Gedebey’s CEO, Ilham Aliyev, said: “After receiving a government loan from the Azerbaijan State Entrepreneurship Fund, we were able to commence production. The EBRD Loan will be applied for the second phase of our strategy to increase local penetration of premium bottled water and grow our exports abroad. We are particularly thankful to the professional and dedicated EBRD team in Baku for supporting our strategy.”
Said Neil McKain, Head of the EBRD’s Resident Office in Azerbaijan: “We are pleased to support entrepreneurial businesses outside of Baku, such as Gedebey, and to contribute to this company’s success story. This investment demonstrates our commitment to invest in the regions of Azerbaijan and support local businesses.”
To date, the EBRD has signed 134 investments worth more than €1.5 billion in various sectors of the Azerbaijani economy. The developing agribusiness sector offers opportunities to reduce the country’s dependence on oil and gas revenues by strengthening economic diversification – one of the EBRD’s priorities in Azerbaijan.
* The donors to the ETC Fund are Canada, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taipei China and the United Kingdom.