A livestock service center in Tbilisi started up 2001 by three students of veterinary medicine has been able to expand into a diversified company called the Invet Group. Invet now offers veterinary and pet products and services, as well as animal feed and supplements. With EU4Business support, the EBRD’s Advice for Small Businesses co-financed purchase and customization of a software solution that enabled young business to cope with rapid growth and expanded operational management. The new software also helped the company management to improve productivity by 40% and cash flow by 20%.
From 3 to 80 employees
Back in 2001, the three young veterinarians launched their service for professional self-fulfillment. With the first investment of $2,000, the three opened a livestock service center to provide proper veterinary advice to farmers. With no solid experience in business, the young men did a little market research and took advantage of some field visits to the regions. Professional development courses and intensive consultations with international experts also helped the three partners to deepen their knowledge in specific areas and to diversify their business by introducing much-needed veterinary products to the market, including animal feed and supplements.
In just a couple of years, the company became one of the first to launch direct partnerships with major international companies making veterinary drugs and various types of animal supplements. By 2006, the company was producing veterinary drugs locally and eventually began to replace the imported products dominating the market with high-quality, locally-made European brands.
Eventually, the Invet Group expanded to 8 regional offices across Georgia and three warehouses, complete with its own distribution network and hot-line covering the entire country. Today, it has 80 employees.
EU4Business to overcome a challenge
The Invet Group launched local production of EU-standard animal feed in 2015, complete with a laboratory monitoring product quality and a poultry farm for drug-resistance testing.
This rapid growth threatened to give rise to cash flow problems, however, and issues with maintaining balance. The EBRD Advice for Small Businesses Project funded by the European Union through its EU4Business Initiative helped Invet deal with the workload and connected the Group to suitable local consultants. The main challenge—monitoring a number of different daily processes more efficiently—was overcome by €2,190 in EU4Business co-financing so that Invet could adopt APEX automated management software. This allowed the Invet Group to generate accurate reports on its product portfolio and flow, stock and cash flow.
The company was able to install software that set up the business on a single platform, consolidating all of Invet’s online analysis of accounting and receivables. Maka Skhvitaridze, the Invet Group’s Strategy Development Manager, explains that the customized software modules enabled their business to regulate cash flow and avoid excessive stock.
“Accurate control over drug expiration dates and production processes minimized our losses, both in warehousing and manufacturing,” says Skhvitaridze. “As a result, we expanded our client base, streamlined our distribution network, and acquired new facilities. This gave a major boost to the growth of our profits.”
In addition, the automated information system simplified business operations, cutting the time needed to accomplish certain tasks from a week to a day, and reducing the human resources needed by 85%. Skhvitaridze says the software eliminated certain risks of financial mismanagement as well.
“This is one of the best decisions we ever made in our business,” says David Shalamberidze, founder and Director of the Invet Group.
Of the 45 veterinary drugs the Invet Group has registered in Georgia, 8 are already being exported to Azerbaijan. Granulated animal food is sold in Armenia, with further prospects of expanding to other neighboring countries. To strengthen its competitive position, Invet management is in the process of implementing ISO 22000 food safety management standards.