EU4Business project helps set up business clusters for better access to EU market
Up to 100 Georgian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are now in a better position to take advantage of the benefits of the free trade agreement between the EU and Georgia.
The EU-supported project ‘SME Development and DCFTA in Georgia’ has helped to establish three business clusters in the country and to lay the groundwork for two more, reaching out to 100 SMEs specialising in furniture, interior design, film production and post-production, ICT, apparel and honey production.
As a result of the 4-year project, these SMEs have received access to leading international expertise to help them identify opportunities for capacity and product development, better competitiveness and integration with the European market.
Cluster member SMEs currently employ more than 1,400 staff members in Georgia.
DETAILS RELEASED OF GEORGIAN GOVERNMENT’S CAMPAIGN TO STRANGLE ANAKLIA PORT PROJECT
Ruling Georgian Dream Party Reversed its Support for Vital Project,
Wiping Out Economic Benefits for Georgia
TBILISI, GEORGIA, 9 September, 2020 – The Anaklia Development Consortium (ADC), the company originally selected by the Government of Georgia to develop the strategic Anaklia Port Project, today shared additional details of the Government’s campaign, directed by the ruling Georgian Dream party, to undermine the project by dissuading potential project investors, lenders, contractors and suppliers from joining the project in order to kill it.
The following statement is issued on behalf of the ADC Supervisory Board:
“All infrastructure projects of such scale require government support; namely the encouragement of lenders and investors, the assistance in permitting, regulatory approvals and a favorable tax regime, and providing any ancillary support; in this instance, the provision of land and the construction of road and rail infrastructure. For a government to actually oppose an infrastructure project that it had itself approved is highly unusual in the global economy.
“The Georgian Government’s campaign to strangle ADC’s ability to develop the Anaklia Port Project represents a self-inflicted wound for itself and considerable injury to Georgia’s economy and its role in the region.
“Taken together, the Georgian Government's specific actions are part of a deliberate and well-orchestrated campaign to destroy a project which the Government itself originally sponsored and endorsed, but subsequently chose to destroy as a result of what appear to be the political and economic self-interests of the Georgian Dream Party and its principals.
“The Government manufactured all sorts of excuses for not wanting to see various investors, lenders and partners involved in the project, but the Government really only had one purpose: to choke the project to death by scaring away everybody who might have an interest in supporting it.
“Also, is it beyond coincidence that government ministers – including two Prime Ministers -- who voiced support for the project or otherwise expressed concern about the growing controversy with the project were tendering their resignations shortly after such comments were made?
“The damage to Georgia caused by the Government goes well beyond the potential loss of the Anaklia Port and the associated Special Economic Zone. The conduct of the Government is scaring away investors at a time when Georgia cannot afford to lose any more foreign investment. According to the National Statistics Office of Georgia, the amount of foreign direct investment in Georgia has fallen from nearly US$ 2 billion in 2017 to just over US$ 1.3 billion in 2019, and in the first quarter of 2020, stood at only US$ 171.8 million - a catastrophic decrease even before the Covid crisis began to take effect. As Retired U.S. Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges of the Center for European Policy Analysis said, ‘the government only has itself to blame.’”
Some examples of the Government’s efforts to strangle ADC and the Anaklia Port Project include:
- Georgian Dream party leader Bidzina Ivanishvili requested to meet with ADC to discuss the Anaklia Port Project and asserted that the expansion of Poti Port could achieve the same objectives of the Anaklia Port at a far lower cost.
- During a June 12 meeting of the Georgian Dream party, attended by more than 100 party officials, Party Leader Bidzina Ivanishvili personally blamed Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili for his actions in support of the Anaklia project and for having close ties to ADC investor Mamuka Khazaradze. Mr. Kvirikashvili resigned the day after that meeting.
- In February 2019 ADC learned that during an October 2018 meeting with senior U.S. State Department officials in Tbilisi, Mr. Giorgi Gakharia (then Minister of Interior) advised the U.S. officials that the Anaklia Port project was not in Georgia’s interests.
- SSA Marine, which was selected as the Anaklia Port operator and was a potential investor, alerted ADC of its concerns about what seemed to be the Government’s support of an expansion of the Poti Port. (Following detailed studies sponsored by the Government back in 2013-14, it had been determined that Poti Port could never meet Georgia’s needs for a Deepwater Port, which is why the government itself selected Anaklia for development at that time. The Government’s subsequent expressions of support for expansion at Poti was a clear signal to the lending and investment community that the Government was no longer supportive of Anaklia.)
- A sovereign European development bank advised ADC that it had decided against supporting the project because of the negative actions of the Georgian Government, and the possible shift of support to the Poti Port.
- Another sovereign European development bank advised ADC that it was withdrawing its support because one of its counterparts had just done so (above) due to the state’s apparent shift of support from Anaklia to Poti.
- It has been reported that Infrastructure Minister Maya Tskitishvili, in ministerial hearings before Parliament, undermined SSA Marine as a potential investor and as the port operator, claiming the company lacked experience and financial capacity. These assertions were not true. In the process of her speech, the minister also breached legal obligations of confidentiality that were associated with the investment agreement.
- SSA Marine advised ADC that it was suspending its activities related to the Anaklia Port project.
- Mr. Giorgi Kobulia, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, told “Forbes Week” that the negative public discussions and media reports of the Anaklia project were having a negative impact on the business climate within Georgia. He subsequently resigned within days of the interview.
- A major U.S. private equity firm which was in advanced negotiations with ADC to join the project revealed to ADC that Government officials warned the firm to stay away from the project.
- Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze, in a trade visit to the U.S., met separately with SSA Marine, the leadership of the U.S. private equity firm that were interested in investing in the project, and with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington, D.C. Secretary Pompeo expressed support for the Anaklia project with the prime minister standing next to him, saying it would “strengthen Georgia’s ties with free economies and not allow Georgia to be under the economic influence of Russia or China.” Upon his return to Georgia, Mr. Bakhtadze resigned, and this again put the project in unchartered waters.
- At a meeting in Tbilisi, a large Hong Kong-based private equity group with significant Central Asian transportation synergies that was considering joining the project was told bluntly by Infrastructure Minister Tskitishvili that the Government did not desire their participation in the project. At this same meeting Ms. Tskitishvili reaffirmed the Government’s seeming opposition to SSA Marine’s involvement in the project.
- Giorgi Volski, Vice Speaker of Parliament, falsely claimed that the Hong Kong private equity group mentioned above is a “Russian” company, with the intention either of disparaging it or sowing further confusion about the government's position in respect of the project.
- In a meeting between Prime Minister Gakharia and an Anaklia Supervisory Board member, Mr. Gakharia stated that “things had to get quiet” before he could reassure the major potential U.S. investor of the state’s support for the Anaklia Project, which the board member understood to be a condition that ADC and Mr. Khazaradze stop criticizing the government publicly on its opposition to the Anaklia Project, and the government would stop criticizing ADC.
- Also, the Supervisory Board was promised a letter of support to a U.S. investor from the highest levels of the Government, but this never materialized, even though ADC did comply with the Government’s request.
- A delegation from the U.S. (in Tbilisi to participate in the 5th annual Tbilisi International Conference sponsored by the McCain Institute) met with new Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia, and subsequently with Mamuka Khazaradze. Representatives of the delegation told Mr. Khazaradze that Prime Minister Gakharia told them the Anaklia project was not commercially viable when this was patently not the case.
- Fadi Asly, chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce in Georgia, is quoted in the media saying, “No one will invest in Anaklia project as long as Bidzina Ivanishvili wants to destroy it.”
Taken together, these are only a selection of the instances where the Government of Georgia actively undermined the project in an effort to prevent ADC from developing the project. ADC intends to present evidence during the upcoming arbitration proceedings to demonstrate the degree to which the Government took such steps.
Further details of the Anaklia Port project and ADC can be found at http://anakliadevelopment.com
How Ukraine’s Volunteers and Businesses Are Rescuing the Nation from COVID-19
The global coronavirus pandemic is a daunting challenge for Ukraine, which has been trying to reform its healthcare system. Its civil society, volunteers and private business have stepped up as usual. UkraineWorld looked into how they are uniting their efforts against the spread of COVID-19 and supporting the country’s most vulnerable.
As Euromaidan and Russia's war against Ukraine have shown, Ukrainians know how to take on imposing adversaries, though this time the enemy is invisible. While the government is expecting humanitarian assistance from China and financial help from international funds, the country's people are doing their part. Since the start of the quarantine on 17 March, numerous private and public initiatives have sprung into action to help the country's healthcare workers, elderly people and those with disabilities.
As of the end of March, Ukrainian hospitals, together with clinics being repurposed into treatment centers, have had less than 4,000 ventilators in Ukraine, according to Ukraine's Chief Sanitary Doctor, Dr. Viktor Liashko.
The urgent need for ventilators and basic protection for medical staff has prompted the private sector to come to the rescue of the country's healthcare system.
Ukraine's top private postal service, Nova Poshta, was one of the first companies to act. The company donated 25 million hryvnias (899 425 USD) to equip hospitals in Poltava Region. "Business in our country has never had ideal circumstances," the co-owner of Nova Poshta, Volodymyr Popreshniuk, stated, "But now it's about survival and saving jobs." The founders urged other businessmen to join, and many have. FC Vorskla and the mining company Ferrexpo have agreed to help financially.
Corporate charitable and social actions have become a rescue force in cities across Ukraine. In Lviv, Ukraine's tourist gem of the west, one of the biggest IT companies, SoftServe, directed 10 million hryvnias to hospitals for medicines, equipment and everything necessary in cities which host its offices. Other industry peers have followed their example, including Intellias, which created a special team to track the pandemic situation in Ukraine and pledged to buy coronavirus 10 000 test kits.
At the national level, banks, large businessmen and even oligarchs have joined the fight against the virus. PrivatBank and the founder of Monobank have raised and sent money to buy ventilators for hospitals. Many have started to provide free consultations, free online courses and discounts to ease life for those who have to work or those who are helping the situation by staying home.
In Odesa, a volunteering group called Monsters Corporation is helping local hospitals alongside business and philanthropists. The head of the organization, Kateryna Nozhevnikova, regularly reports on the situation on her Facebook. Volunteers have already supplied thousands of pieces of protective gear and basic sanitary items, and started to help the elderly people who are most at risk.
"In Odesa, there are 5 500 pensioners in need of special care. And there is no way they can leave their houses," posted Yulia Kanazirska, the coordinator of the project Kind Dinner. The anti-crisis centre in Odesa Region, Odesa vs. COVID, mobilised local businesses to supply those most vulnerable with groceries and everyday needs. This is also the main mission of organizations like Starenki [Elderly -ed.], Lifelover, the Sant'Egidio community and Help a Homeless Person.
Different groups of volunteers are also trying to counter the shortage of face masks by sewing them. Some of the initiatives started to help supply Ukrainian soldiers with clothes and equipment in the frontline in 2014 are now raising money for protective gear and ventilators, as well as sewing face masks to combat the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
While dozens of NGOs and newly-emerged initiatives such as Solidarnist have been making every effort to counter the spread of the infectious disease, local governments around Ukraine were forced to respond to the challenge of the coronavirus.
Kyiv alone has more than 12 000 elderly people living by themselves to take care of. The mayor of Kyiv, Vitaliy Klychko, said the city has organized the delivery of groceries, medicines and hygienic necessities for lonely pensioners.
Similar steps have been taken in other regions. For instance, in Rivne Region, the administrative council decided to provide people with disabilities as well as the elderly with all they need to prevent them from coming into contact with other people. Ukraine has also tried to involve its state enterprises. The postal service UkrPoshta and Liki24.com have launched free delivery of medicines to Ukraine's remote villages and towns for the period of quarantine.
Once the quarantine began, public transport was severely limited and soon suspended due to the emergency situation. For this reason, Lviv city council even made an agreement with car services Uklon, Bolt, and Uber to provide free rides for healthcare workers at hospitals that treat patients with the coronavirus. At the end of March, Kyiv Uber Shuttle transformed into Shuttle Heroes, and is providing healthcare workers with free trips with promotional codes distributed through healthcare administrations and the state online service.
Even before the formal measures, Ukrainian car drivers had started to offer free rides for healthcare workers since the start of quarantine measures.
In Kyiv, Chernivtsi, Lviv, Rivne and other regions, they instantly created messenger channels and Facebook groups to help medical personnel get to their workplaces. Andriy Didun, a local businessman from Uzhhorod (Zakarpattia Region), was the first to take this initiative when the public transport was suspended in Uzhhorod. Today, "Pick up a Medic" (or "Help a Medic") is a common act of solidarity across Ukraine that helps healthcare workers to do their jobs.
Despite the coming financial calamity, small businesses have not stood on the sidelines. Together with other entrepreneurs, Didun, who sells mobile phone accessories, managed to raise money and buy necessary protective gear and basic things for infectious disease departments and hospitals.
"The infectious clinics had nothing -- neither gloves, nor masks, nor special clothes," he shared with UkraineWorld. He found the situation with protective clothing difficult because there was a lot of speculatory purchasing on the Internet. "This gear protects against chemicals, not viruses. But we can use it if there are no other options. I have friends in regional hospitals, and the situation is catastrophic there," Didun added.
The personal urge to help is where corporate solidarity started. Khrystyna Zhuk from Lviv decided to hang an announcement in her neighborhood. "I wrote that I could go to the grocery store or the pharmacy, that I would walk dogs and cats for people in high-risk groups, pregnant women, or those suffering from coronary artery disease." Not many asked for her help. "Since the situation is not critical yet," Zhuk assumes, "probably not many people are taking it seriously".
Nevertheless, as the head of the marketing department of La Piec pizzeria, Zhuk started her company's free pizza deliveries to infectious disease clinics and emergency hospitals in Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk and Vinnytsia. "When I saw that they were delivering pizza to doctors for free in Italy, I thought it was a brilliant idea!" she recalled to UkraineWorld. "And that's what we're doing now".IRYNA MATVIYISHYNAnalyst and journalist at UkraineWorld and Internews Ukraine
You can too! How the EU supports women entrepreneurs in Georgia
You can too! How the EU supports women entrepreneurs in Georgia?
- 1. I want to start my own business, but I’m not sure my idea would work. Who can advise me?
The European Union is very active in supporting the development of new businesses, particularly among women and particularly in the regions of Georgia, often with a focus on rural and disadvantaged areas. So don’t think that you need to be in Tbilisi, to have a higher education or an established business in order to access EU support – on the contrary!
The EU supports a number of programmes and business support facilities that provide know how, practical help, and even funding to help you start your business.
Here are some examples:
If you are looking for support in agriculture, the ENPARD programme provides information, training, advice and financial support all over Georgia, with hundreds of thousands of farmers benefitting since 2013. Visit the programme’s interactive map to find regional initiatives, contacts, information centres and cooperatives near you.
The Mayors for Economic Growth programme supports local authorities in developing economic growth and job creation. Among the dozens of local authorities that have signed up in Georgia, three – Bolnisi, Gori and Tbilisi – are running pioneer projects including support for new entrepreneurs with training and business development facilities, ensuring the equal access of women to development opportunities.
- 2. Business advice is all very well, but you need money to develop your business. How can I get funding when I have no money of my own and no business experience?
A number of grants for agricultural projects are available under the ENPARD programme. Follow the calls section on their website to see the list of grant competitions that are available.
While the local development projects funded under the Mayors for Economic Growth initiative do not provide grants, they will help you to access finance. For example, the SPARK business accelerator set up under the project in Tbilisi offers new businesses assistance in preparing a business plan, and puts you in contact with potential investors and sources of finance.
One EU-funded programme offers loans that are specifically tailored to women: Women in Business can provide finance both to start and develop a business. The programme works with local partners Bank of Georgia and TBC Bank and offers preferential terms for women entrepreneurs to finance new business ideas or expand an existing business. Several other projects under the EU4Business initiative also work with local banks to provide loans for SMEs – from micro-finance to major investment loans.
- 3. I already have a business, but I need help to take it to the next step: is there any EU support available for me?
If you already have a business and you are looking to develop, funding (and training) is available through a number of programmes under the EU4Business initiative, which supports private sector development across Georgia.
Apart from providing loans, Women in Business offers training and subsidised advisory services that are specifically tailored to women-led businesses. The programme also offers a personalised online tool – the Business Lens – to assess your business and see what kind of support you can access.
Some EU4Business programmes also offer finance for much larger businesses, but others such as the DCTA Initiative East offer microfinance loans up to €25,000. The European Fund for South East Europe (EFSE) also provides small loans (average loan size €14,300) to the smallest businesses (less than 10 employees) in sectors such as agriculture, industry, trade and services. Click here for the full list of finance programmes under EU4Business, here for projects offering training and business advice, and here for projects supporting access to markets.
Georgian entrepreneurs also have access to the Enterprise Europe Network, which helps Georgian SMEs find business and technology partners across Europe and beyond.
- 4. I’m not sure I want to start a business, but I want to learn new skills: is there something for me from the EU?
Training and skills are a key priority of EU support in Georgia, and the EU provides considerable funding for Vocational Education and Training (VET). The EU recently launched a 150 million GEL programme supporting vocational education and labour market development. The 5-year programme will help 105,000 Georgians find jobs by expanding high quality vocation education, improving labour policies, and supporting entrepreneurship training.
In terms of direct support, the individual EU4Youth programmes – Say YES: Skills for Jobs, Enhancing Youth Education, Employment and Participation in Conflict-affected Areas in Georgia and Ukraine, Fostering Potential for Greater Employability, and Better Skills for Better Future – have a strong focus on skills for under-35s, especially in less advantaged regions of Georgia, providing training, mentoring and internships to help young people find jobs.
For young women under the age of 30, the EU offers exciting opportunities under its Erasmus + youth programmes. You can join the almost 10,000 young Georgians who have already learned new skills and developed valuable experience by participating in youth projects or volunteering for work abroad under the European Solidarity Corps.
- 5. Are there women like me, who started their own business with EU help?
There are lots!
Nata, Manana, Irina and Dali all received grants under the ENPARD programme. Natalia and Irina come from Tbilisi, Manana from Tsalka, and Dali from Upper Alvani. Natalia grows cucumbers, Irina tomatos, Manana runs a tea processing enterprise, and Dali combines honey production with educational courses. They have all developed their business with the help of EU training and grants.
Irina Gloveliand Tekla Mamageishvili both received advisory support as part of the Women in Business programme. For Tekla, the project helped to plan the activities of her eye clinic more strategically and attract financial resources, while Irina received help to put her engineering company’s financial reporting in order, leading to a 7.5% rise in profits.
Manana Chqareuliworked from home as a seamstress. With the help of loans under the EFSE programme, she was able to upgrade her equipment, lease a proper workspace and hire staff to develop her business. Now her company is on its way to becoming a brand in its own right.
Diana Bakradze and Anna Varamashvili benefitted from skills training and internships under a project for ‘Support of vulnerable youth to become productive citizens through learning, training and employment’, an important step to an independent professional life.
Click here for more success stories from ENPARD, here to find out what the city of Bolnisi is doing under the Mayors for Economic Growth project, and here to learn about five Georgian women who have benefited from EU support across a range of areas.
- 6. Whom can I ask for help?
Visit the ENPARD website to find contact information in all the different regions of Georgia, and check the programme’s interactive map to find regional initiatives, contacts, information centres and cooperatives near you.
If you already have a business and are looking to develop it, check out the training and funding opportunities available under EU4Business in Georgia.
For education and youth opportunities, contact the national Erasmus + office in Georgia.
And don’t forget to follow the EU Delegation to Georgia on Facebook for updates and new opportunities.
The Project to Foster Peace Citizens, Implemented by HWPL Peace Education
Kotebe Metropolitan University implements the peace education to train peace-building citizens in Ethiopia
In December, the professors and students at Kotebe Metropolitan University participated at the ‘Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL) Peace Education’ sessions which are also joined by 214 schools in 36 countries. The sessions provided platforms for students and professors to express the significance of peace education and discuss the process of implementing peace education with the visions laid out by HWPL.
Ethiopia is the melting pot country, enriched with the diverse cultures, peoples, and religions. However, such diversity sparked many conflicts in the past, some of which are still ongoing. These conflicts have stripped the country and people apart emotionally, and the Ethiopian government is actively working to peacefully resolve them for the better future of the country.
To bring the peaceful reconciliation in the country, the Ministry of Education in Ethiopia and 9 other states had previously signed MOA with HWPL to implement the HWPL Peace Education. The curriculum is designed to empower citizens to properly recognize the value of peace and take the pioneering role of spreading the culture of peace. Implementing Peace Education is also the practical step toward implementing visions laid out by the Article 10-Spreading a culture of peace, out of 10 Articles and 38 Clauses of the ‘Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War (DPCW)’. Citizens are carrying out the popular peace movement to present DPCW to the United Nations to make it into the international law of peace in the form of a legally binding document. This global movement aims to fundamentally cut off vicious cycles of war and support citizens to promote the value of peace as the universal culture for humanity.
A student who participated at the peace education said, “I learned why peace education is important for resolving conflicts in Ethiopia. It taught me to act as a messenger of peace. It is also important to present 10 Articles and 38 Clauses of the DPCW to the UN to fundamentally eradicate war and conflicts. To this end, we must continue to participate in peace education,” emphasizing the need of peace education in order to peacefully resolve the conflicts in Ethiopia.
After signing MOA with HWPL, the Ministry of Higher Education in Ethiopia is currently reviewing the ‘HWPL Peace Education’ to incorporate and implement it as formal curriculums in all the universities. Addis Ababa School of Science and Technology (AASTU) also held the peace education sessions right after the Kotebe Metropolitan University.
After an initiative to pursue HWPL Peace Education was publicly announced in September 2017, HWPL began signing MOA with every Ministry of Education in need of peace education.
So far, HWPL has signed MOA with the corresponding ministries of 10 countries, as well as MOU with 214 schools in 36 countries, most of which are officially implementing peace education curriculums.
Giorgi Gakharia: Hospitality is in our DNA, and it is a country where future is born from history and traditions
We are honored to host the Silk Road Forum for the third time in Tbilisi, Georgia. This event has gathered more than 2000 participants from over 60 countries, Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia stated in his speech at the formal reception honoring the delegates of the Silk Road Forum.
As the Head of Government underlined, more than 300 bilateral meetings have already been scheduled, which is remarkable, indeed.
Besides Georgia's investment opportunities, Giorgi Gakharia, in his speech, also singled out the worldwide uniqueness of Georgian hospitality.
"Georgia is not only the best place for investments and doing business. Georgia is a homeland of winemaking and Georgians are number one hosts in the world, because hospitality is in the DNA of our culture.
So, let me, keeping in mind all countries along the Silk Road, raise a toast to Georgia at the crossroad of civilizations, where future is born from history and traditions," Giorgi Gakharia stated.
Prime Minister's Press Office