Greetings from the Agent: Women Empowerment in Tbilisi, Georgia

This article starts a new series in our blog: Greetings from the Agent.

This fall 2021, the 7th of September to be exact, my company Napa Arts & Licensign Agency turned 14 years. What would be a better present, than to be invited to talk to a group of emerging women entrepeneurs, to share my story to them as a source of inspiration? Just about nothing! I was honored to be asked by Creative Caucasus, an organisation focusing on developing creative entrepreneurial ecosystem in Georgia and the Caucasus, to give a talk and lead a workshop in Tbilisi. How could I have said no?

I’m a little ashamed to say my knowledge of the Caucasus area was close to zero before my trip. How is their culture, people, business? The only thing I knew was that the food should be amazing in Georgia. As our plane landed on the 21st of October, around midnight, at the airport of Tbilisi, one thing came clear: the Georgian hospitality is like nowhere else! Our host, the leader of Creative Caucasus, Gela Suni, was there to meet us and brought us to the hotel.

Finnish entrepeneurs invited to speak at the Finland-Caucasus Creative Forum were, from the left: Marjo Oliva (Napa Agency), Päivi Häikiö, Taina Myöhänen (We in Games Finland), Anni Korkman (Helsinki Design Week)

During our stay, me and my fellow Finnish women entrepeneurs were truly treated like rock stars. Always there was someone to help us: to book us a table at a restaurant or thermal spa, to ordert us a taxi or organize nice program for us. And the food? It was astonishing! The local thing was to order many many dishes and share everything on the table. And the wine? Amazingly good. We also learned that the wine producing actually was invented in Georgia, and the locals still produce it in the traditional way, in big vessels buried below ground (qvevri).

Qvevri vessels in Bolnisi museum.

The first day, after having an amazing breakfast at our hotel called the Rooms, we were taken to the event venue, Bolnisi Museum, right outside Tbilisi. The morning was beautiful, landsacepes amazing – and everyone could feel the excitement in the air. Who are all these women? Do we have something to offer for them? How will be the feedback? First, we were intoruduced to the new museum’s exhibition, which was a really eye-opening experience. Go see more here.

The program strated with greetings from the organizers and the roving embassador Kirsti Närinen. The first speaker was my personal favorite, Tuija Seipell of the Coolhunter – she was as inspiring as always!! The rest of us held our “Ted talk-like” speaches after that, and just couldn’t believe the positiveness of the feedback we got. It felt extra good to know our stories made an impact, and engouraged the local women entrepeneurs.

Me, Marjo Oliva, on stage, introducing the M-Girls – Napa Agency’s amazing staff!

The second and third day were even more important, as we Finnish ladies gave our workshops. During these days we got to know the local brands and entrepeneurs even better. Just take a look at few of them: Chikatai, Funduki, Saini Studio. I was amazed by how well thought and ready for the market all these brands and companies were! To me it was especially important, as I was the one leading a workshop about branding to the ladies. My task was to teach the “basics of branding”, but they knew so much already the workshop turned out to be more than rewarding, also for me. How interesting conversations we had! What a success! I guess you know you’ve done well when the ladies came to thank me afterwards for the inspiration, and even for my energizing personality. 10 points to everybody!

Workshops led by the Finnish ladies were held in a cool co-working space called Fabrika.

The last days we spent wandering around Tbilisi, and getting to know the culture. Our amazing host Annie Davarashvili (Creative Caucasus) took us on a tour in The National Museum of Georgia, and recommended the best restaurants for us. We will never forget her (and Gela’s) hospitality, and the amazing places and experiences we got to have and see. At home, I still felt so energized! During the pandemic I had really missed what is the best thing in the world: other people! Talking to them, learning from them, making new friends. I’m so happy I got to share my story to the ladies in Georgia and Caucasus area!


Photos: Me (Marjo Oliva), Annie Davarashvili, Taina Myöhänen

Greetings from the AgentNapa School