For many businesspeople, there are years when nothing happens, but for Tamara Machavariani, there are some weeks when a year’s worth of things happens. Machavariani appeared in Forbes Georgia in the spring of 2021 as the CEO of Rush Group Dubai, then in December 2021 as the owner of Rush Global Dubai, and here she is again with a new chapter in her career: Holiday Connect and Pomona are two companies recently founded by the only Georgian female businesswoman in the UAE.
Machavariani is the grandchild of high-ranking officials from twentieth-century Georgia, and in her words, the root of her success comes from her grandparents. In 2009 she graduated from the faculty of quality control at the University of Georgia and went to Germany to learn the language as well as to develop both professionally and personally. In 2011 she went to Dubai as a tourist, and the moment she arrived, she knew she would never want to go back after considering all the opportunities the city could bring to her career. “I will never forget the feeling that I had when I experienced Dubai for the first time. It was incredible. The most attractive part was the rulers’ leadership and how successfully they led the country; I was amazed at how they took care of their people and expats, and how innovative they were. The level of safety and freedom was astonishing. I personally believe this is all a young person needs to be motivated and achieve their dreams, Machavariani tells Forbes Georgia.
Despite all her achievements, Tamara openly talks about her challenges in a foreign country, especially during the first few months. “When I started my business, I was in 45-degree heat sourcing buyers, and I was working from my car. I did not have a cold storage unit, and I didn’t have an office. I was invoicing my customers from my car; I was doing all kinds of tasks from there; I waited for containers to arrive to open them and inspect the quality of the products to then sell on the market,” she says.
From 2018 Tamara headed the Dubai branch of Rush Group, a UK-based company with over forty years of experience in producing and distributing fruit and vegetables. Later in 2021, Machavariani acquired the whole 100% of the Dubai branch from Rush Global and began a new chapter in her career as the owner of Rush Global Dubai. Today, after one year and ten months, Rush Global Dubai has twenty employees and is supplying the HoReCa sector and supermarkets.
Two new companies, business cooperation between Georgia and the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and challenges of the UAE under the current global circumstances – this and more were discussed by Forbes Georgia and Tamara Machavariani, the owner of Rush Global Dubai, and the founder of Holiday Connect and Pomona.
The UAE is known somewhat for gender inequality; all the staff at Rush Group Dubai are males. How is it running a male-dominated company as a woman?
I have always been inspired by the words of the founding father of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. He said, “I encourage women to work in positions that maintain their respect and dignity as mothers and makers of generations.”
The UAE has a lot of successful Emirati women leading companies, and that stereotype is not valid anymore. Women are treated with respect.
As far as being a woman running a male-dominated company, I believe it is a beautiful journey. I have amazing loyal people working at Rush Global, we are one team and one family where we all help each other, and we all have one goal, which is to make the company successful.
You are the only Georgian woman running a business in Dubai. What is your main piece of advice for Georgian women planning to follow you?
Believe in yourself, listen to yourself, and always do what makes you happy – self-confidence is key. Remember that life is full of surprises, don’t let anyone destroy your dreams, always keep fighting and never give up. A winner never quits, and you must believe that you are a winner. Everything is possible, and everything is achievable; live to the fullest, and do not be afraid of failure. I failed many times, it was extremely painful, but I stood up stronger afterwards… Remember, the sun always shines after the storm has passed.
As far as Dubai is concerned, well, it is a great country to achieve your goals in a short period of time.
Recently you were included on the list of the twenty best business leaders according to Gulf News. Share the details of the selection criteria and other winners with us.
I was the only female CEO at that time in Dubai in the fresh fruit and vegetable industry, which was the only criterion for Gulf News. I was selected, nominated, and listed together with nineteen other great business leaders like Saleh Lootah, chairman of the UAE Food & Beverages Manufacturing Group, Bruce Robertson, managing director of Jaguar and Land Rover, and other successful female executives were also included.
Tell us about your newly launched companies.
The travel company Holiday Connect will concentrate on promoting Georgia in GCC countries, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, and Bahrain. Our aim is to increase tourism in Georgia and introduce many more beautiful destinations and activities to our travellers. My country was always my priority; I want and hope that more Georgian people will become employed and job opportunities will increase.
Pomona is a fruit arrangement brand where we decorate events with fruits as well as prepare fruit baskets for special occasions; I am planning to bring Pomona to Georgia very soon.
As the CEO of Rush Global, you immediately started finding Georgian partners to assist them with entering the UAE and GCC countries. What encourages you to involve Georgia more in the GCC?
My country and my people are my priority, which is my only encouragement.
The country has huge resources to sell on the international market, and it is not only the GCC; I also want the entire world to try Georgian fruit and vegetables. I know that we have a lot of new farms in the country that are growing exceptionally good quality products, but Georgia has a logistics problem, and if the gap is not closed, we will never be able to meet the required standard. Now is the time to support these farmers to meet international standards so that they can sell their products in new markets.
I am guessing that your travel company will be focused on promoting Georgia… Share more details with us. How are you going to develop it?
This coming summer, we are going to promote our country. People will be able to celebrate their weddings or other special occasions in Georgia. We will offer VIP trips to royal families, helicopter transportation and many more luxurious details that I will talk about more on my personal social media platform.
What would you suggest Georgia do to attract more tourists from the GCC?
Every country has its special thing, and Georgia has several of those (for example, our wine, food, culture, and beautiful landscape); we need proper marketing. I mean more promotional videos, more celebrities coming and visiting, and more influencers, especially in GCC countries where influencers’ opinions matter a lot. People listen to them and trust their opinion; therefore, it would be good to bring one or two and invest in them to show off our beautiful country.
A winner never quits, and you must believe that you are a winner. Everything is possible and achievable;
live to the fullest, and do not be afraid of failure. I failed many times, it was extremely painful,
but I stood up stronger afterwards. Remember, the sun always shines after the storm has passed.
How was 2021 for Rush Global Dubai?
As we started in 2020 and we are a COVID-19 company, we faced a lot of challenges, logistics and quality were not great, and nothing was in our favour, but with great support from our major suppliers, we went from zero to a very decent turnover; it was a great start and end to the first year.
You started to cooperate with the Georgian company Geo Agro Export to export fruit and vegetables from Georgia to the Middle East and Gulf region. How successfully are you cooperating?
Georgia has seasonal fruits, and it was a very short-term business; we had a great couple of weeks, but we faced challenges with packing and logistics. Georgia did not have packing houses where fruits could be packed and handled decently; this created a lot of problems around quality. I hope next year will be better, and of course, we want to collaborate with Georgian farmers and packing houses to help them into the GCC market.
Security risks, inflation, supply chain interruption, and new political and economic agendas – these are the main concerns in our region since February 24th, when Russia invaded Ukraine. What are the main challenges and concerns of businesses in the UAE today?
Dubai, since its inception, has focused on building multiple supply chains and sourcing options, thereby creating an antifragile environment, which has put it in a good place to ensure the supply of critical goods, including food. If we look to the west, where there were empty supermarket shelves, this 2020 phenomenon was not apparent in Dubai. It does, however, come at a cost, which, fortunately, due to the favourable income tax rate, is currently being absorbed perhaps better than in other regions.
Security in the region is obviously topical, but a higher price of oil, to some extent, brings economic growth and stability to the Gulf’s geopolitical balancing act.
The pandemic and war have affected every single person on earth, but if we look at UBS’s latest report, it shows that the UAE’s economic growth is projected to accelerate from 1.4% in 2021 to 4.3% in 2022 and 5.2% next year. The UAE’s GDP growth will increase from an estimated 3.4% in 2021 to 4.6% in 2022. The UAE economy grew by 3.8% in 2021. It is clear that the country has an extraordinarily strong economy and it has great leadership. Whoever lives in Dubai would agree with me that we had a light hit when compared to other countries, we survived, and now it’s time to leave the past behind and keep moving forwards.Leave a comment