The Visa Foundation Announces Grantee to Support COVID-19 Recovery in Central Europe (including Georgia), Middle East and AfricaWednesday, 13 May 2020 17:44
Funds will support relief efforts being undertaken by the Red Cross
Tbilisi, May 13, 2020 – The Visa Foundation today announced its approval of a $1.6 million COVID-19 relief grant to the Red Cross to support their COVID-19 recovery programs across Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa. The Red Cross is supporting the frontline response to the pandemic and providing critical services for vulnerable communities through public health and disaster relief services.
This grant is part of the Visa Foundation’s previously announced $210 million global commitment, with $10 million in COVID-19 relief focused on the emergency needs announced this week for organizations worldwide and another $200 million to address longer-term needs of the small and micro business community over the next five years. Globally, the Visa Foundation is providing $4.3 million in funding to support the Red Cross’ COVID-19 programs.
“Societies around the world have faced unprecedented challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the outbreak placing immense strain on public health providers and other essential services,” said Andrew Torre, Regional President CEMEA, Visa. “We are incredibly grateful and inspired by the tireless work of all humanitarian organizations at this time, and are pleased the Visa Foundation grants will support the ongoing efforts of the Red Cross.”
Across the CEMEA region, COVID-19 has placed additional challenges on communities, with many already suffering the effects of poverty, insecurity, conflict or climate change. The grant to the Red Cross aims to provide much needed support to continue providing vital services across the region.
“We’re grateful for the amazing work humanitarian assistance organizations are providing to communities around the world affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, “ said Graham MacMillan, president of the Visa Foundation. “The Visa Foundation is proud to offer these grants to support these organizations’ mission-critical work during these perilous times.”
The forthcoming 5-year $200 million program will support small and micro businesses, with a focus on fostering women’s economic advancement, both of which will be critical to long-term economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. This commitment expands the Visa Foundation’s long-standing support for small and micro businesses globally. Additional information on the Foundation’s grant and investment strategy will be shared in the coming months.
For more information:
- The Visa Foundation’s COVID-19 regional grantees: https://usa.visa.com/visa-everywhere/blog/bdp/2020/05/11/the-visa-foundation-1589219590276.html
- Visa Inc. COVID-19 response: https://usa.visa.com/visa-everywhere/blog/bdp/2020/04/03/visa-is-committed-1585927227688.html
- Visa Foundation $210 Million commitment to small and micro businesses and immediate COVID-19 relief: https://usa.visa.com/about-visa/newsroom/press-releases.releaseId.17066.html
About the Visa Foundation
The Visa Foundation seeks to support inclusive economies where individuals, businesses and communities can thrive. Through grantmaking and investing, the Foundation prioritizes the resilience and growth of micro and small businesses that benefit women. The Foundation also supports broader community needs and disaster response in times of crisis. The Visa Foundation is registered in the U.S. as a 501(c)3 entity. For more information, visit https://usa.visa.com/about-visa/philanthropy/visa-foundation.html.
About Visa Inc.
Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) is the world’s leader in digital payments. Our mission is to connect the world through the most innovative, reliable and secure payment network - enabling individuals, businesses and economies to thrive. Our advanced global processing network, VisaNet, provides secure and reliable payments around the world, and is capable of handling more than 65,000 transaction messages a second. The company’s relentless focus on innovation is a catalyst for the rapid growth of connected commerce on any device, and a driving force behind the dream of a cashless future for everyone, everywhere. As the world moves from analog to digital, Visa is applying our brand, products, people, network and scale to reshape the future of commerce. For more information, visit usa.visa.com/about-visa, visa.com.ge, facebook.com/VisaGeorgiaGE
The World Bank will provide a $80 million financial support package to Georgia to help the Government’s efforts to mitigate and address the health and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The support is provided under the World Bank’s Fast Track Covid19 Facility (FTCF). The World Bank is also collaborating with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to provide an additional $100 million under a joint co-finance arrangement.
The objective is to finance measures that help prevent, detect and respond to the threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and provide immediate social protection support to the most vulnerable. It is expected to benefit the population at large, and in particular, the infected people and at-risk populations such as the elderly and people with chronic conditions, as well as medical and emergency personnel. Health-related emergency COVID-19 response measures include case detection and confirmation, increased testing, as well as health system strengthening for case management.
In addition, the project will provide income support to the poor and vulnerable households by scaling-up of the Targeted Social Assistance program and providing temporary cash transfers to workers who lost jobs due to the pandemic.
“Through our rapid support we are helping save lives and protect the livelihoods of those impacted by the pandemic during this challenging time," said Sebastian Molineus, World Bank Regional Director for the South Caucasus. “We estimate that the total WBG financing package for Georgia COVID-19 response will be approximately $200 milion in new financing, in addition to the approximately $300 million funds in our pipeline for 2020-2021 for projects in support of broader development needs, such as digital connectivity and infrastructure”.
“I would especially like to note that our partners have been actively involved in the negotiations with the Government of Georgia since the very first days of the pandemic. Once again, I would like to thank them for that tremendous support,”- said Ivane Matchavariani, Minister of Finance of Georgia. “Furthermore, I would like to emphasize the role of the World Bank in the preparation of this program, as well as in the development of our country in general”.
This project is a part of World Bank’s broader support for the people of Georgia, and it is the first in the series of three lending operations to be rolled-out over the coming three months. The second upcoming operation will come in the form of additional financing to the existing Economic Management and Competitiveness Development Policy Operation (approved by World Bank's Board of Executive Directors on March 26, 2020), aiming to help the government cover the unanticipated financing gap and ensure Georgia’s progress in implementing reforms in areas critical for inclusive economic growth. The third is the upcoming Relief and Recovery for MSMEs and Jobs project, which intends to support the jobs agenda as well as micro, small and medium-sized enterprises that have been affected by the pandemic.
The U.S. Government is proud to announce an additional $600,000 in emergency health assistance to support Georgia's response to COVID-19Monday, 20 April 2020 13:12
The U.S. Government is proud to announce an additional $600,000 in emergency health assistance to support Georgia's response to COVID-19. With this new assistance, the U.S. Government, through USAID, has committed $1.7 million in emergency health assistance to support Georgia’s efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to help the individuals and communities who are most at risk.
The $1.7 million in emergency health assistance from USAID will help control and prevent infection and identify cases of the virus. It will include technical assistance to improve Georgia’s response and preparedness for controlling the outbreak, and for communicating information about the emergency.
The new assistance is part of a whole-of-government approach by the U.S. Government. It comes in addition to other health sector assistance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), USAID support for Georgia's economic recovery and effective provision of public services, and the nearly $140 million the U.S. has invested over the past 20 years in helping Georgia build a capable, resilient, and professional national healthcare system.
We are proud to partner with the Government of Georgia, local health professionals and civil society organizations, and international organizations to help people stay healthy and stay safe.
The MFA of Georgia reaffirms its support to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan
On 6 March, Energy Community experts in close cooperation with the Georgian National Energy and Water Supply Regulatory Commission (GNERC) and the Georgian Oil and Gas Corporation (GOGC) launched EU4Energy technical assistance aimed at developing a natural gas storage tariff methodology. The overall objective of the project is to enhance Georgia’s energy security, ensure an uninterrupted supply of natural gas in case of any temporary disruption and to contribute to the improvement of legislative and regulatory environment of the Georgian natural gas market.
The draft methodology compliant with the provisions of Directive 2009/73/EC and Regulation (EC) No 715/2009 and a tariff calculation tool will be delivered with EU4Energy assistance by April 2019.
In Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, the first steps are being made towards developing cycling infrastructure alongside the expansion of the automotive industry. Cycling activist Lika Merabishvili is striving to promote cycling in the city with the EU’s support.
Cycling is known to be beneficial for joints, bone strength, the heart, brain and blood vessels. It also develops muscles and contributes to better health and mood. According to Lika, who is also project coordinator of the NGO Safe Drive (“Partnership for Road Safety”), this is a healthy, “green” and cost-effective mode of transport.
Unfortunately, not many people choose a bicycle as their means of transportation. Due to various factors, they prefer to use public transport or cars instead. This is also the case in Tbilisi, where traffic is very busy.
Lika explains that the city is overloaded with cars, and promoting the use of bicycles is one way to change this. However, in order to enable more people to use bicycles, the city should have appropriate infrastructure in place and cycling should become safe.
“In order to reduce the number of cars in the city, public transport and cycling have to be developed”, says Lika, who received a fellowship from the EU-funded Eastern Partnership Civil Society Fellowship Programme to promote this issue.
On a couple of occasions, dozens of cyclists have moved together in the central streets of Tbilisi and forced surprised car drivers to give way to them – an unusual scene to witness in the city. This happened when two cycling demonstrations were organised in the framework of Lika’s project, aiming at bicycle promotion. “Cycling Club” members, representatives of the Mayor’s Office and others participated in the demonstration.
Lika recalls that the project implementation period coincided with the time when the Tbilisi Mayor’s Office was setting up cycle paths in Saburtalo district. She sees this as a step forward, although she adds that more such cycle paths need to be set up. As well as promoting it, her project aims to advocate for the topic together with the Mayor’s Office.
“On the Mtkvari river embankment there is another old cycle path but it does not meet any of the European standards… At the meeting with the Mayor’s Office staff we presented a plan for how to arrange a cycle path on University Street at the University ‘High Block’.”
She says that this should be part of a complex policy with a focus on the well-being of citizens.
Author: Luka Pertaia
Article published by Netgazeti.ge in Georgian.
Frankfurt am main, May 12 – European experts and South Korean peace activists have voiced their support for peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula at the 'Pan-European Peace Forum' held in Frankfurt.
Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL), a Seoul-based peace NGO as in consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), organized the event to advocate international cooperation for global peacebuilding and support for the peaceful reunification of the two Koreas.
Chairman Man Hee Lee, a Korean War veteran, appealed to attendants of the forum, “More than anything else, a peaceful world without war would be the greatest legacy to hand down to our children. If a single country achieves peace, it does not mean the world has become peaceful. Peace has to be realized in the entire world. If each person walks in the path towards peace, peace will be accomplished in the global community.”
Frankfurt city council member Dr. Manfred F. Welker delivered a speech on the need for civil society’s active participation. Recalling the small gatherings in Leipzig that sparked peaceful demonstrations for Germany's reunification, he said what will bring two Koreas together is "not just government cooperation but - as we have seen from Nikolaikirche [St. Nicholas Church, Leipzig] - it will be by the collaboration and efforts of the people.”
Prof. Dr. Hans Köchler from Austria, president of International Progress Organization, said the issues of denuclearization and reunification of Korea are mutually reinforcing. He pointed out the prospect of a reunified Korea will be "the best security guarantee to both the North and the South.”
He also maintained that nuclear disarmament should be carried out not only in Korea but also in the rest of the world, saying “there must be no policy of double standards concerning disarmament obligations of states.” Dr. Köchler is serving as a member of HWPL Peace Advisory Council, a group of policy makers and experts from civil society for advancing peace in the international community.
At the end of the event, Dr. Welker presented to HWPL delegation a Letter of Support for the peaceful unification of the Korean Peninsula and global peace. As in line with its advocacy campaign for global peacebuilding, HWPL is collecting the Letters of Support from state officials to civil leaders, which aim to being sent to the leaders of two Koreas.
Meanwhile, HWPL, to build sustainable peace, is implementing peace education programs in various educational institutions and collaborating with educational experts and teachers worldwide to develop peace education textbooks and curriculums.
Today representatives of the EU, FAO and Georgian Government marked the end of a 2 year project which assisted over 800 of the most vulnerable IDP families in Georgia.
The two year Equal Access of IDPs to Economic Opportunities project was funded by the EU and implemented by FAO in cooperation with UN Women, and focused on developing livelihoods of the most vulnerable groups of IDPs, namely single parents with minors, households with members with disabilities, and households led by youths and the elderly. The project provided training and over GEL 4 million to help these families undertake investments in mechanization, orchards, vineyards, honey and dairy productions. In total, 830 IDP households across Georgia benefitted from the project.
The programme also funded 48 kindergartens across the country, giving up to 10,000 GEL to each institution to create playgrounds, buy bedroom furniture for babies, equip kitchens and heat the buildings. More than 2,700 children benefited.
The event was attended by Sozar Subari, the Minister of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees of Georgia, and Janos Herman, Ambassador of the European Union to Georgia.
Mr Herman noted that: "The EU has been supporting IDPs in Georgia for many years now. We are proud of the most recent project, which has provided funding and training to over 800 of the most vulnerable IDP families in Georgia to develop better livelihoods. This is a true expression of the EU's commitment to help improve the lives of all Georgians, especially those most in need."
The project was the third phase of an EU/FAO initiative that started in 2009. The first two phases focused on food security and providing investment opportunities to IDPs. Each phases supported over 2000 IDP households in Georgia with a total budget of over GEL 16 million (EUR 5.4 million).
IDP beneficiaries of the project from the various regions of Georgia also attend the event, bringing their agricultural products for the exhibition which was organized as the side activity of the event. Koba Ugrekhelidze, IDP with disability from Khoni, Imereti was one of the participants. He was supported with co-investment of 2 450 GEL for enlargement of his apiary. With the obtained grant he procured additional 30 bee families, 150 frames, 150 honeycombs and beekeeping equipment.
"In August 2017, I harvested and sold 200kg of honey, improving my annual income by 30%. I plan to reinvest the profits and increase the number of beehives even more. I’m grateful for the great opportunity to expand my business", Mr Ugrekhelidze said.
The guests also enjoyed a photo exhibition of the portraits of the IDP beneficiaries.
On 10 October, the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia released a statement on the constitutional reform in the country. In the statement, it expressed its agreement with the opinion of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe, which positively assessed the reform.
“From early this year, the European Union voiced its expectation that the introduction of extensive amendments to the Constitution of Georgia would strengthen democracy and the rule of law, based on wide-ranging and inclusive consultations,” the EU said.
“We welcomed the commitment of the Georgian Parliament to consult the Venice Commission and fully incorporate its recommendations.”
The full text of the statement, which the EU Delegation issued in agreement with the EU Heads of Mission in Georgia, can be accessed here.
Two new factories will be established under the Produce in Georgia state program.
To launch a non-noble metal producing factory in Kutaisi, the state will allocate land to the investor who will additionally enjoy every mechanism under the program, including subsidized loans and bank loan cosigning.
Some 1,360,000 GEL will be invested and 60 people will be employed at different stages of the project.
A metal production plat will be established in Tbilisi, with 4,000,000 GEL in investments and 30 people employed at the initial stage.
At today's Government meeting, the Prime Minister also spoke of the Gemuani fruit processing plant that opened yesterday in Zugdidi with support offered under the United Agro Project state program. The plant employs an innovative processing technology that allows for keeping 98% of the vitamins and microelements after treatment.
"It is a unique method that enables us to process both top and relatively low quality fruits subsequently to be sold as dried products. The plant's products for the next year are practically preordered by Near eastern countries, the UAE, and several European countries," the Prime Minister said and congratulated the Ministry of Agriculture on the implementation of this important project.
Giorgi Kvirikashvili also believes that it is beneficial to adopt this technology in other regions as well.
Overall, 851,024 USD was invested in the plant, of which 250,000 USD as a grant and 484,512 USD as an affordable agro credit.
The state also allocated immovable property to the plant, including an abandoned production facility that has been renovated to meet modern standards. The enterprise directly employs 35 workers, with 150 farmers contracted to supply products.
"This means that, besides 35 families of those employed directly, additional 150 households have a source of income, given that each farmer equals one household, though there may be more. Thus, this enterprise gives good return on investment," Giorgi Kvirikashvili emphasized.
According to the Prime Minister, the public is often unaware of the many good endeavors accomplished under the Produce in Georgia program, which is why he instructed the Cabinet members to inform the country's rural population about these success stories during their visits to the regions.