Archil Bakuradze

💼 Executive Chairman, Crystal Microfinance Organization

🎓 Master’s in Business Administration, Lancaster University (2003)

Archil is a financier and technology entrepreneur who believes that responsible business can empower humans and improve societies. He is currently Executive Chairman of Crystal, a microfinance organisation that he founded and developed into one of Georgia’s leading impact finance groups, providing services to micro-entrepreneurs and farmers, with a strong focus on rural clients.

Archil has also served as a Chairman of the Georgian Microfinance Association and led the Coalition for Financial Literacy. Serving as an Executive Director of CHCA, Georgia’s premier agency supporting Internally Displaced Persons and other socially vulnerable groups, Archil remains committed to civil causes such as youth entrepreneurship, strengthening parliamentary democracy, and the rule of law. He is proud to be a fellow of the John Smith Trust (2000) and a recipient of the international award of van Heuven Goedhart from the Dutch Refugee Foundation ‘Stichting Vluchteling’ (2003).

It really became a key part of my life and the way it has developed. Life would be very different without Chevening.

Archil Bakuradze

What were your career aspirations before applying to Chevening? What is the most important thing you learned during your experience?

I was leading an organisation that was helping internally displaced people. That was something I started when I was 18. Since then, we developed in different directions—one of the spin-offs from that organisation was a microfinance institution. Then I went to the UK, which really made a big difference in my life. It helped me to build Crystal, which is now a leading microfinance institution in the country, employing more than 1,000 members of staff, serving up to 100,000 customers, and managing quite a sizable loan portfolio.

We also decided to create a programme modelled on the Prince’s Trust, a much respected institution in the UK that helps young people to develop their businesses through funding and mentorship. Today we have a network of youth entrepreneurship schools that help young Georgians—aspiring entrepreneurs—to learn, network, and get some funding from Crystal to help realise their business opportunities.

How do you feel your Chevening experience has influenced where you are now?

My life panned out in a very funny way. When I was growing up, there was very little opportunity in this country. There was a complete lack of systems and education was poor. I got my bachelor’s degree, but it was very formal and completely inadequate for the work I was doing. The opportunity to get a British education was everything for me. It came at a very good time in my life, after having six or seven years of practical work experience. So I went to the UK and did my MBA and that really changed my life. It empowered me and helped me to think differently. It helped me to understand the complexities of human society and organisation, and what needs to be done to cope with these complex situations. Therefore I think that if I have been successful, it is very much due to the knowledge and experience that I acquired through my Chevening experience.

What message would you share with the next generation of Chevening Scholars?

I think Chevening offers a really wonderful opportunity to step outside of your daily life and see yourself from a different angle. Enjoy this wonderful immersion in cultural experiences. It’s not only academic experiences, new knowledge, and skills that young people can acquire. It’s learning to understand yourself and connecting to the world. The UK is a wonderful place to connect to the world.