The FINANCIAL — The number of non-resident visitors from Poland has increased by 105 percent in the 6 months of 2011 in comparison with the 6 months of 2010.
Polish investments have also dramatically increased during the last year. Investments are driven by the close political relations between the two countries. The human factor also plays a significant role while making a decision on investment or travel.
3,985 Polish people crossed the Georgian border in the 6 months of 2011, compared to only 1,941 in 2010.
The amount of Polish investments in Georgia is also increasing. It was 10.8 thousand USD in 2009, 23.4 thousand USD in 2010 and 10.1 thousand USD in the first quarter of 2011 according to the National Statistics Department. The number of whole foreign investments in Georgia is also significantly increasing. Whereas it was 658,400.6 thousand USD in 2009, in 2010 the amount of investments has reached 553,056.1 thousand USD.
Many Georgian officers went to Poland following the Soviet invasion of Georgia in 1921. They were accepted into the Polish Army, and thus could no more be considered immigrants. Among the Georgians who moved to Poland were the parents of General John Shalikashvili (the General himself was born in Warsaw).
“Georgia and Poland have similar interests and that’s why Polish investments are increasing at a very high speed,” said Piotr Burzyński, Secretary for Economy Issues of Embassy of the Republic of Poland. “We’re expecting at least doubled Polish investments in Georgia by the end of this year.”
On July 26 Georgia is waiting for the President of Poland to arrive with a business delegation. This visit is to deepen Georgian-Poland business relations, hope Polish businessmen in Georgia.
Currently one of the biggest Polish investors in Georgia is Maciej Jaranowski, Director of the company The One. He is involved in chemical industry, informatics, real estate and developing systems.
“I decided to invest in Georgia three years ago, just after the war,” Jaranowski told The FINANCIAL. “The war was a great impulse for me. Three years ago, I with my Georgian partners founded company Gepol, which is working on the safety of roads. The company has a multi functional structure, focused on a wide spectrum of working activities. Our goal is to improve road safety,” he said.
After a successful road safety business Mr Jaranowski decided to invest in the healthcare system. In December 2010 his company The One won the tender of the Ministry of Economics and bought a referral hospital for 550,000 USD.
“I have obligations to invest 5 million USD in three years. The hospital needs total renovation. All of the equipment has to be changed,” he said.
“Actually the psychiatric department has already been rehabilitated. There are 30 beds and it has been getting patients for a month. The next step will be the surgery department,” Mr Jaranowski added.
The Polish-Georgian alliance was a short-lived alliance (1920–1921) between the Second Republic of Poland and the Democratic Republic of Georgia.
After the renovation processes, Mr Jaranowski is planning to establish a medical educational centre at the hospital. There will be special courses for medical personnel. The educational centre will have exchange programmes between Georgia and Poland too.
“The healthcare system is quite difficult and investing in this sphere, especially abroad, is challenging for any businessman. But it’s somehow stable at the same time and has a great future as a business,” he believes.
The businessman is planning some other investments in Georgia, but prefers to keep them a secret before starting.
He has Georgian partners and colleagues in the country, but Jaranowski controls most of the processes himself. And as he has business and family as well in Poland, he has to move from Georgia to Poland all the time.
“I spend two weeks here in Georgia and two weeks in Poland. It’s not pleasant for me and I plan to move to Georgia for several years with my family. I love this country and want my children to learn Georgian,” Mr Jaranowski said.
“As well as Maciej Jaranowski, there are several big Polish businessmen who are going to invest in the banking and insurance system. But for the moment they prefer to remain anonymous,” Piotr Burzyński, Secretary for Economy Issues of Embassy of the Republic of Poland said. “All these investors are well-recognized in Poland and have huge experience in their job.”
“We, as an embassy, spread as much information about the Georgian business environment among Polish businessmen as possible,” he added.
Georgian company Baby Line imports different types of cosmetic and baby products from Poland. The company started importing products 4 years ago. They have several brands: Canpol Babies, Lovi, Soraya, Primababy etc.
“It’s a real success,” Nino Bitskinashvili, Products Manager of Baby Line told The FINANCIAL. “Our products are sold quite successfully in pharmacy networks. Georgian people love Polish products as they are of high quality and affordable prices.”
There are two Polish hotels in the centre of Tbilisi, also a Polish frankfurters’ shop.
“I traveled to Georgia several times and I noticed that there is a small number of cheap and good standard hotels for backpackers in Tbilisi”, said Jakub Jan Łuczak, owner of Opera Hostel. “We started preparatory works in spring of this year. It took two months.
Jakub Jan Łuczak has Georgian wife and they run this business themselves. They have 5 rooms and can accommodate 18 guests. The price of accommodation depends on the room type and on the season: four person room – 30 gel/day/person; double room – 40 gel/day/person.
“The huge majority of our guests come from foreign countries. We have guests from Europe, Africa, USA, Middle East,” Łuczak said.
Beside businessmen, some Polish teachers and journalists are working in Georgia as well.
Dominik Cagara was an English language teacher last year in Mestia, Svaneti. He had quite an interesting and challenging experience in this high mountainous region and has some other plans connected to Georgia for the future. During the period Cagara was teaching English, he learned Georgian and Svan as well.
Polish journalist Jakub Gornicki came to Georgia in 2009 for the first time. He was invited to give a presentation on New Media Forum and make a few trainings. Later he was teaching a multimedia course at the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA).
“I’m always coming back to Georgia because of work,” Gornicki said. “Somehow the things I do are connected with this country. But I also wish to come back so whenever I see an opportunity I grab it. I would like to continue working with GIPA. Besides this I am involved in consultation for the local media.”
“Enjoy the local cuisine, be nice to local people. Georgia has many things to offer from a different culture through to its open people and beautiful mountains. It is a very good place to be. You can make a lot of good friends here,” Gornicki advises.
“At the same time as an increased number of Polish tourists and investors in Georgia, Georgian products are very popular in Poland as well,” said Magda Nowakowska, Press Officer of Embassy of the Republic of Poland.
“Georgian wine and juice products are sold in Warsaw and local people really love them,” Nowakowska said.