By Kate Tabatadze
The British-Georgian Chamber of Commerce (BGCC) is celebrating its 10th anniversary. A special event marking the occasion took place in BGCC’s Regus office at the business centre on Leonidze Street. One of BGCC’s co-founders and partners, Lord Cromwell, arrived in Tbilisi specifically for this event. Other attendees included members of the diplomatic corps, the government and the private sector. As part of his visit to Georgia, Lord Cromwell, who is a member of the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, will hold meetings with high-ranking officials and private sector representatives. His visit coincided with the 25th anniversary of restoration of Georgian-British diplomatic relations. “As I was travelling to Georgia 10 years ago, I was being asked whether I meant the US state or the ‘Russian Georgia.’ This time, no one asked me this sort of questions. Everyone is aware of Georgia these days,” stated Lord Cromwell. According to him, the Georgian market has become truly international for international businesses over the past few years, and will attract even more foreigners in the future.
The first office of the British-Georgian Chamber of Commerce was opened by Lord Cromwell and Mako Abashidze in 2007 at the London branch of Regus. Today the Chamber operates from Regus Tbilisi. Property Georgia spoke to Mako Abashidze about BGCC’s challenges and plans.
- 10 years have passed since you founded the British-Georgian Chamber of Commerce. How did it all start?
We decided to establish BGCC in 2007. In the UK, as in Georgia, registering a non-governmental organisation can be done in 15 minutes. However, when you are dealing with commercial relations between two countries, it is vital to have the backing of the Ministries of the Economy in both these countries. Lord Cromwell helped us obtain the support from HM Treasury and UK Trade & Investment.
BGCC does not limit its activities to the two countries, but is part of a global network. We are members of the British Chamber of Commerce, the London Chamber of Commerce and the Regional Chamber of Commerce. We also represent the Georgian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the UK. Therefore, we have access to a unique international contact base. We are continuing to actively operate from Regus’s Tbilisi office.
- Your first office was located in the London branch of Regus. What is so special for you about Regus’s concept?
Having a large, high-end international player such as Regus entering Georgia represents a statement. It means that the local market is becoming part of the global network. Doors to the global market are open for members of Regus, and they can operate offices in various countries across the world. This is particularly important today, when everything operates in the online mode. For example, traditional offices are gradually losing their purpose in the UK. Large companies such as BMI are shifting their focus to home offices. As a mother of three, I can also personally state that this method of working is more effective in one’s professional and private life. I can work from home, while also spending time with my family. What is equally important, I save a lot of time by avoiding long journeys and traffic jams.
- You are regularly involved at the Georgian-British Forum. How important is this event in the process of deepening the bilateral economic and trade relations between the countries?
The forum takes place as part of the Wardrop Dialogue initiative, named after Britain’s first Chief Commissioner to Georgia, Sir Oliver Wardrop. Meetings take place between high-level officials from both countries. BGCC’s involvement at the forum is of an economic nature. Wardrop Dialogue discusses the prospects of deepening the economic and trade cooperation between the two countries, as well as ways of enhancing the educational and cultural ties.