Gazelle Makes Its First Investment in Georgia
Gazelle Fund LP invests in Degusto,
the leading local fast casual restaurant chain in georgia
TBILISI, GEORGIA, October 3, 2017 – Gazelle Fund LP has invested $700,000 in Gurmano LLC to expand its restaurant chain, “Degusto.” Launched in 2015, Degusto has quickly become the leading local fast casual restaurant chain in Georgia.
“We are excited that our first investment in Georgia is Degusto, a real ‘gazelle,’” said Jeffrey Liebert, CEO of Gazelle Finance. “Degusto demonstrates that there is not only strong demand for healthier food choices in the Georgian market, but that forward-thinking entrepreneurs, like the leadership team behind Degusto, can develop successful local retail brands at scale in Georgia, and then expand internationally.”
Gazelle Fund LP is a small-cap mezzanine investment fund managed by Gazelle Finance that targets small and medium enterprises in the South Caucasus, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia regions. A “gazelle” is a company a that can sustain revenues at a compounded annual growth rate exceeding 20 percent over a five-year period.
Gazelle Fund LP’s investment provides growth capital that will enable Degusto to rapidly expand its footprint in the Tbilisi market and grow from five to twelve outlets in less than two years while generating more than 100 new jobs.
Degusto offers healthy and affordable Georgian and European-influenced cuisine using locally sourced ingredients in a modern setting. Its Georgian design accents and attentive and friendly service attracts a loyal and growing customer base. In addition, Degusto has a thriving business selling prepared meals and providing catering services to corporate clients, including the leading supermarket chain in Georgia—Carrefour. With Georgia’s GDP growing at a steady clip of more than 4 percent and tourism levels increasing by more than 20 percent in 2017, Degusto is poised to benefit from increased demand from a rising middle class and a more diverse international clientele.
“Degusto is a small company with big ambitions,” said Degusto CFO Giorgi Mushkudiani. “The combined financing and partnering solution that Gazelle Finance provided to our company enables us to rapidly grow our business here in Georgia. Our ultimate goal is to provide healthy, freshly-made meals for under $3 to our customers; and to do that, we need to grow very quickly to have sufficient scale to be competitive in the market.”
The country of Georgia has been a leader in the region in implementing economic reforms to attract foreign direct investment. Gazelle Fund LP is an excellent example of cross-border cooperation between local and international institutional investors. It is backed by some of the leading European and U.S. development finance institutions, including, FMO (Dutch development bank), Dutch Good Growth Fund (DGGF), U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), and one of Georgia’s largest state financial institutions, JSC Partnership Fund.
Gazelle Finance is an investment fund manager that manages private equity funds in the Eurasia region targeting a double bottom line goals of (i) financial returns for the funds it manages, and (ii) enhanced prosperity for the communities where the funds’ portfolio companies do business. Gazelle Finance has established Gazelle Fund LP to provide risk capital to growing, yet underserved, small and medium enterprises in the Eurasia region. Gazelle Finance maintains offices in Georgia and Armenia, and is in the process of expanding to other countries in the region (www.gazellefinance.com). Gazelle Finance was established with generous financial support from Eurasia Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports small business development and civic engagement in Eurasia and the Middle East. (www.eurasia.org/gazellefinance)
Established in 2015, Degusto (facebook.com/Degusto.ge/) operates five fast casual Georgian cuisine restaurants in Tbilisi and provides prepared meals to medium and large corporate customers. The format addresses the gap between inexpensive fast food restaurants and full-service sit-down restaurants and is gaining popularity among the rising middle-income population in Georgia by offering high quality, healthy food at an affordable price.
Nino Sebiskveradze, Gazelle Finance
Sophio Londaridze, Degusto