The story of “Enkeni” is connected with the joint initiative of university students. This startup has one very important and distinctive side – it makes chips, but healthy chips from apples. Students of Food Technology and Business Administration at the Agrarian University worked in the field of innovative nutrition. They discovered a certain technological method by which they obtained apple chips with special characteristics. This is how Nona Noniashvili, Tamar Sheitnishvili, and Shalva Mdzinarashvili created the delicious snack brand “Enkeni”. The enterprise is located in the village of Ditsi, near the administrative dividing line, and helps the local population, women, to be employed and have their own income.
In the framework of Visa’s initiative She’s Next in partnership with Forbes Woman Georgia We present an interview with Nona Noniashvili, in which she shares her experiences and future visions, which will help readers better understand the challenges, barriers, and opportunities that women entrepreneurs face.
What challenges did you face along the way, How did you deal with them?
Like other startups, we have faced many challenges on the path of development. With our maximum involvement, motivation, and love of work from the founders, we overcome all challenges. We gain a lot of experience in the process, we think through the steps taken and, of course, we take what we learned into consideration. Personally, I have learned that challenges always exist and no matter what stage of development the business is in, the most important thing is to understand that each new challenge is a chance to become stronger and better see the existing reality, as well as clearly understand what will be the most effective way of future business development.
What motivated you? What motivates you now?
What motivated me was the fact that we are creating a valuable product that has the potential to establish itself in the modern world market. “Enkeni” is distinguished by a different visual and crisp texture. It is a useful and enjoyable snack. That’s why “Enkeni” apple chips set a whole new standard and declare that some chips can be healthy!
At what stage of development is “Enkeni” now and what does it offer to its customers? How did it become a successful project?
We currently produce two types of apple chips, red apple – Aidared, which is characterized by a sweet taste, and green apple – Granny Smith, which is characterized by a sour taste. Both of them are made by the innovative drying method, in which only water comes out of the product and the vitamins and other substances present in the apple are preserved. We do not use additives, our product consists of only one ingredient and that is apples. We plan to form a line of other similarly healthy snacks, with different interesting flavors.
I believe that the key to “Enkeni’s” success is our concept – to create a healthy and at the same time delicious, which is becoming more and more demanded and popular today. Consumers realized that “Enkeni” apple chips are a kind of alternative, it is from the standard snack family, but at the same time completely healthy and tasty.
How important are such initiatives from the private sector and what positive change can we expect from this project?
I think that one of the main factors for the development of the country is the development of startups that create not only a local but also a global product. “Enkeni” is such a product. It has the potential for global commercialization, we have already started export negotiations with the several US and European countries, which on the one hand, will have a positive impact on the country’s economy, and also increase the country’s awareness and others’ interest in it.
In retrospect, how important is it to fight for our ideas and never give up? How should we encourage ourselves in the most difficult moments?
For me, being a startuper and an entrepreneur means making decisions in critical situations, not giving up, and becoming stronger. That’s when one turns failure into a precondition for success.
Before you become a startuper, it is important to understand that making a lot of sacrifices will be necessary, you will face a lot of difficulties. But, you cannot give up at any stage. You have to fight to the end.
What advice would you give to young female entrepreneurs who are planning to start a business?
As for advice, first of all, to start an agribusiness, you need readiness and great desire, because it is quite a difficult field and contains many details. It takes a lot of love for work to be successful in a business project, so I would advise beginner entrepreneurs to realize that this is an extremely difficult road. However, if you really believe in your own idea, if the main priority is your own startup, you should definitely take this step and fight to the end. Even in critical and difficult situations, again and again, self-belief and love of work give us strength.
Women in our country are victims of many social stigmas. What would you tell them, how should women break stereotypes and change their lives?
In my opinion, it is important for the development of the country to encourage women and increase their involvement in various processes, be it politics or business. It is important for women to stand by each other, share experiences, encourage each other, and give each other motivation. When you feel that you are not alone and have a lot of like-minded people around, it is easier to break stereotypes and change your life for the better.
What is the power of women?
We are a very strong and important force, both for the positive changes in the country, and both mentally and economically.
What are your future plans?
Future plans are related to “Enkeni.” This year we are going to take turning steps towards brand positioning and export. To do this, both I and my business partners and team members are doing our job with more sacrifice and maximum involvement.