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Ellive: olive oil from ancient Olympia

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“The olive orchards are literally just above the site of ancient Olympia,” says Manolis Zacharioudakis, founder and CEO of Ellive, a company that he set up with his sisters in early 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic hit. “We had been working on the project for a couple of years, to trade in olive oil and by-products, so the timing was right. My sisters are both agronomists. They perform regular soil analyses to adapt the culture to exactly what the olives need, so that we can ensure low acidity and a delicate fruity aroma, which is what sets our product apart. We want to offer a high-quality product – that’s non-negotiable.”

Manolis himself adds the entrepreneurial touch to the business: “I’m the risk-taker. All business ideas have risk, and we had no prior business activity in this field – and it’s a very competitive field, very developed in Greece. The risk was huge. We want to maintain high quality, but there is a culture here of looking only at price and that’s a challenge…We’re really trying to look for those clients that require higher quality. Even though we’re a young company, our client book is growing slowly and we’re still standing despite this difficult year.”

An EU-guaranteed loan from Piraeus Bank, backed by the EIF under the EU’s Investment Plan for Europe gave Manolis and the team a much-needed boost during these challenging times: “We needed to give the business an edge, so we invested in digital marketing, including targeted advertising, social media, google ads…this sort of thing. It’s crucial in this day and age and it helps us grow our client base.”

It has been a challenging year, with many parts of the economy freezing, but Manolis is glad to be in a good position. “We had some difficult moments, like when a big deal fell through and we took a hit, especially psychologically. But you have to learn from these failures, leave them behind, close the chapter and face the next day. The market won’t allow anything else.” Looking at that next day, Manolis is already planning to expand sales. “We’ve already secured sales deals in Greece, Cyprus and Latvia so far and we had wanted to expand to the US, UK and Serbia but it’s taking longer than we expected due to COVID-19. We are also looking at moving into other products like hand-made traditional pasta, grandma-style, and also develop agro-tourism on site, including accommodation, so that tourists can really experience making olive-oil and even make their own olive oil in small quantities.”

And the company name? It brings together the syllable El- (from Ellas, meaning Greece), and live which represents both life and the olive.

Company: Ellive (Greece)

Type of business: olive oil trade

EIF financing: EaSI Guarantee Financial Instrument,  EFSI

Financial intermediary: Piraeus Bank

For further information abiout EIF intermediaries in Greece, please refer to: http://www.eif.org/what_we_do/where/gr

 

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