The FINANCIAL — As the pandemic pushes Georgia’s economy into recession, with the severe job and income losses, local entrepreneurship and economic initiatives are key to protecting incomes of rural communities and bolstering their resilience to the crisis. To support economic recovery in Georgia’s regions, UNDP has committed USD 700,000 to promising local economic and social initiatives in four targeted regions. The assistance is part of a broader programme for regional and local development funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the Austrian Development Agency (ADC) and the Government of Georgia.
Representatives of UNDP and the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure visited the municipalities of Marneuli and Bolnisi to meet with local entrepreneurs, civil society activists and local authorities and monitor the implementation of local economic projects.
“As Georgian regions brace for the next wave of the pandemic, local economic initiatives are vital to sustain incomes, promote entrepreneurship and help people in the regions overcome the crisis,” said UNDP Head Louisa Vinton. “UNDP continues to work with local governments, civil society and businesses across Georgia’s regions to foster local projects contributing to economic growth and building the resilience of communities.”
“The Government of Georgia supports local economic initiatives that vitally contribute to the broader efforts to counter the negative impact of the pandemic on the economy and livelihoods,” said Deputy Minister Mzia Giorgobiani. “Such initiatives improve the economic future and the quality of life in the regions.”
In Bolnisi, Vinton signed a letter of agreement between UNDP and the local municipality to provide GEL 60,000 worth of support to the development of tourism infrastructure in the historical village of Tandzia – the birthplace of Georgian statesman and writer Sulkhan Saba Orbeliani.
The visit continued in Marneuli where the delegation met 26 women farmers, members of the local Network of Women Entrepreneurs established with UNDP support. Vinton and Giorgobiani also met 18 local owners of small enterprises from the Marneuli municipality who received aid from UNDP to strengthen their businesses.
So far, ten municipalities in four regions have received a total of USD 320,000 in assistance from UNDP, SDC and ADC to support local entrepreneurs, artisans and farmers and implement local economic projects focused on tourism development. This support was provided as direct funding for municipalities introduced by UNDP last year. Another USD 390,000 of assistance was dedicated to community projects initiated by seven non-governmental organisations from across Georgia’s regions, bringing the total aid committed to over USD 700,000.
“Switzerland is Georgia’s strong partner in regional and local development,” said Dr. Danielle Meuwly, Regional Director of the Swiss Cooperation Office for the South Caucasus. “We are working with the national, regional and local authorities, civil society, the private sector and communities to help promote sustainable growth that leaves no one behind.”
“Local economic initiatives reflect the needs and aspirations of the communities,” said Alexander Karner, Head of Austrian Development Cooperation in Georgia. “Austria is proud to help Georgia benefit from our experience in sustainable local development and introduce policies and measures that will unlock the economic potential of Georgia’s regions.”
The assistance to local economic initiatives will continue throughout 2020, covering four regions of Georgia – Racha-Lechkhumi-Kvemo Svaneti, Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti, Guria and Kvemo Kartli, and benefitting a wide range of local organizations, businesses and citizens.