“This is not a 9 to 5 job. It is not just a company that I spend 8 hours. It is a place where I spend my self. This work is my life and I take it home. It feels like my child. I’ve seen the company take its first steps and I’ve grown in the process. I had to write down a year ago what I wanted to achieve in 1 year. I wrote that I wanted to be in a place where I was needed. Now I am where I need to be. I found that place”
Ilia (31) shares about his work in Georgia. 2 years ago, he took up the challenge. Together with the team, he set up a company that processes residual flows into animal feed.
We offer a sustainable and cheaper alternative to soy
“We work with brewer’s spent grains (BSG). That is a residual product of the beer brewery industry. Because it is rich in energy and protein, it is very suitable as animal feed. This allows farmers to feed their cattle a nutritious diet even in winter, when there is less grass available. It is a good alternative to protein sources, like soy. That is more scarce on the market, especially now that we receive less from Russia and Ukraine.
Our product is a cheaper and sustainable alternative for providing a protein-rich diet. However, the BSG are not accessible to small farmers. Breweries do not market it separately, but sell their residual flow annually to the one with the best offer. This is not attractive for small farmers, because they need less in the summer and BSG spoils easily in the heat. This company makes it accessible to a large group of smaller farmers. This way they can buy as much as they need all year round. In addition, our company has found a way to preserve the brewer’s spent grains for up to a year. This allows us to store it and sell it in the fall and winter, when demands are highest. We also help farmers with storage. In this way farmers can still buy the BSG in cheaper periods and use it in more expensive periods.
This work is challenging, but I believe God will bless it
Before this opportunity, I worked at a bank and was a manager in the hotel business. When Ie got the chance to work here, I took the challenge. It was new and interesting. I really wanted to be involved, but it hasn’t always been easy. In the beginning we focussed on research and on establishing relationships. This created a good basis for the company. In February 2023 we received good news. Finally we won the tender for a brewery that promised us their BSG. However, in business you always encounter unexpected problems. For example, breweries only offer their residual flow as a package deal. You can’t say you want one thing without the other. So we had to find a good destination for the other residual products. Luckily, everything miraculously got solved.
I believe our product is needed
At the bank where I worked, I had to sell products. Sometimes I thought the customer didn’t actually need it. But now, I believe in my product! It is necessary and the best for a client. That is everything I need. It makes the challenges worth it. I see the impact we are making and giving up is not an option. I believe that we are given opportunities by God and that He will bless our efforts. That’s why I don’t have to be afraid. We do not do this work for ourselves, but for others. As a result, many people can run their farms and support their families.
This work has changed me
I’ve grown a lot. At first I thought I could do everything on my own. This company feels like my child, I’ve seen the first steps and see how it grows. That also made me want to control everything for 101%. It was difficult for me to trust the team. I didn’t want anything to go wrong. I don’t easily believe people’s words, but have to see the action with my own eyes. My Dutch colleague inspired me. I think the Dutch act more out of trust. That made me realize that I had to become a team player, or I would get burned out. I started to believe more and more in my team and now I say with full conviction that without each other we couldn’t have achieved what we have now. I believe they have been and will be the key to success.”