Photo: Leli Blagonravova/UNDP

As Georgia’s economy emerges from the pandemic crisis, local entrepreneurship is vital to retain incomes and sustain jobs in rural regions. With funding from the Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), UNDP is assisting municipalities and local businesses across the country with a series of economic development initiatives.

Examples of this support were presented on 2 April at a regional fair in Rustavi Central Park, showcasing over 60 tourism-related business start-ups from seven municipalities of the Kvemo Kartli region. The display included crafts and goods produced by twenty-six women farmers, members of the UNDP-supported Kvemo Kartli Network of Women Entrepreneurs.

The event was attended by UNDP Resident Representative a.i. Anna Chernyshova and Deputy Mayor of the Rustavi City Kakha Guruli.

“After a year of lockdowns, Georgia’s regions are looking at possibilities to reopen for domestic visitors,” Chernyshova said. “We help local entrepreneurs to expand the touristic offer and build economic resilience over the pandemic and beyond.”

To promote local tourism, Kvemo Kartli municipalities and entrepreneurs used assistance from the UNDP’s robust programme for regional and local development funded by the SDC, ADC and the Government of Georgia. In 2020, the programme provided direct funding worth USD 409,506 to fifteen municipalities in four regions (Racha-Lechkhumi-Kvemo Svaneti, Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti, Guria and Kvemo Kartli), aimed at supporting local entrepreneurs, artisans and farmers. Furthermore, USD 556,299 was dedicated to community projects initiated by fourteen local non-governmental organisations, mounting up a total aid of over USD 965,805.

“Switzerland remains Georgia’s committed partner in fostering regional and local development,” said Dr. Danielle Meuwly, Regional Director of the Swiss Cooperation Office for the South Caucasus, Embassy of Switzerland. “Working hand in hand with our partners from the national, regional and local authorities, civil society and the private sector, we strive to promote sustainable and inclusive growth in Georgia’s regions.”

“The Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC) and its operational unit, the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) are grateful to support the people of Georgia in their endeavour to develop sustainable local businesses. Drawing on our own experience, we truly believe that strengthening local value chains can improve the livelihoods of people living in rural areas in the long run,” said Alexander Karner, Head of the Austrian Development Cooperation’s local office in Tbilisi. “Unfortunately, the pandemic slowed down economic development in many regions. Nevertheless, we strongly believe that the encouraging initiatives showcased in Kvemo Kartli today will translate into new opportunities for local communities, rebuilding livelihoods in Georgia’s regions.”

The UNDP, SDC and ADC assistance to local economic initiatives will continue through 2021, benefitting municipalities, businesses and citizens.

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