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Latvia: Madara makes up lost ground

Having shrunk by almost a third since 2008 the Latvian economy needs a makeover. So it is appropriate that among the small and medium-sized enterprises that it is hoped will create the base for a turnaround in the Baltic state’s fortunes is cosmetics firm Madara. The firm has not only managed to shrug off the effects of the domestic downturn but is also blazing an export trail in more than 20 countries in Europe and Asia. It is proof that given the right product and marketing expertise Latvia can compete with the best.

Founded in 2006 at the height of the country’s economic boom by a quartet of twenty-something Latvian women united by a desire to create products that showcased the best of Latvia, Madara had a difficult gestation. As managing director Lotte Tisenkopfa relates, it soon became obvious that at a time when quick returns from property speculation and not long-term investment in an untried manufacturer were Latvian banks’ lending priorities, the company would have to look elsewhere for start-up capital. "We went to see a couple of banks but they weren’t interested and so we quickly gave up on looking for a loan," Tisenkopfa says. In the end a combination of cash from friends and families alongside a grant from the European Union’s Regional Development Fund enabled Madara to launch four products that immediately caught the attention of the buying public and soon had previously uninterested banks clamouring to buy into their success.

Madara specializes in face and skincare products that are made in Latvia from natural materials and certified organic plant extracts, free of artificial ingredients. The company’s eco-friendly approach also extends to its print and packaging, which uses paper from sustainably managed forests. As a result, Madara has been recognized as a green business pioneer by the World Wildlife Fund in its Deeper Luxury report on companies that embody the future of the luxury goods markets by promoting social and environmental responsibility.

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