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SOCIAL ECONOMY – The chance of development of the region of Kakheti in Georgia

Kakheti is an agricultural region located in south-eastern Georgia, known in the world mostly for its vineyards and wines. The region is a tourist attraction with its many historical monuments. Kakheti is the largest region in Georgia by area and is also the least urbanised – only about 20% of its residents live in urban areas.

Kakheti struggles with many problems, mainly with high unemployment caused by the breaking of Georgian-Russian economic relations and shutting off of the Russian market from Georgian agricultural products. Once, exports of agricultural products and wines to the Russian market was the driving force of the region. The lack of jobs and poor chances of finding employment in the region result in indigence, family pathology, low self-esteem and unwillingness to take up social or occupational activity. Another significant problem is unemployment among people with disabilities, most of whom are vocationally passive. People with disabilities are often less educated, their skills are not adjusted to the needs of employers and they lack professional experience.

The above situation indicates there is a need to activate the rural population of the Kakheti region. High unemployment and absence of realistic opportunities for work can be overcome through self-employment in the form of social cooperatives and social enterprises.

SOCIAL ECONOMY – The chance of development of the region of Kakheti in Georgia

The project was implemented from 1 April to 31 December 2016 in the Kakheti region (the Signagi and Telavi municipality) in Georgia. The project implementing entity was the Regional Development Agency of Rzeszow and the local partner was the Community Development Centre (CDC).

The project is a response to problems of unemployed people residing in rural areas in the Kakheti region. Rural residents are particularly harshly affected by problems related to absence of steady employment. They have limited access to training to raise vocational skills. Even if they have a business idea, they lack knowledge, support and funds to start a business. It is therefore advisable to take measures that would not only activate people with disabilities and people without jobs from rural areas who are threatened with social and occupational exclusion but that would also foster development of the Kakheti region.

The main aim of the project is occupational and social activation of people with disabilities and rural residents by establishing and operating social cooperatives in the Kakheti region of Georgia.

Under the project, 30 people (20 women and 10 men) were trained in setting up and running social cooperatives. Thanks to received grants, four cooperatives were started.

SOCIAL ECONOMY – The chance of development of the region of Kakheti in Georgia

The following were project actions and direct project results:

  • A project information and promotion campaign – 50 posters, 500 fliers, two articles in the Polish press, four articles in the Georgian press, six articles on the internet, two radio programmes in Georgia, and information about the project on Lider’s and partners’ websites;
  • Training in Georgia for CDC staff, trainers, advisers and assessment experts – nine trainees, 40 hours of training, and nine training material sets;
  • Recruitment of project participants – 10 information meetings, 100 participants at information meetings, and 16 announcements in the press and on the radio;
  • Training and consultation for participants of the project – 50 trainees (10 initiative groups with five people each), 120 hours of completed training, 100 hours of individual consultancy in accounting and business plans (10 hours per initiative group), 20 hours of legal consultations (2 hours per initiative group), 50 training material sets, and 50 certificates confirming participation in the training-consulting module;
  • Co-financing for the establishment of social cooperatives – nine submitted and evaluated business plans, four allocated and settled subsidies for the establishment of cooperatives, 24 hours of commission meetings, one evaluation report, one ranking list, and four registered cooperatives;
  • Bridge and advisory support for social cooperatives – 120 hours of advice in legal matters, accounting and reporting (30 hours per cooperative), four advisory material sets, and 16 bridge support tranches (four tranches per cooperative).

Of the planned indicators, 100% were achieved, and in action No. 4 Training and consulting for participants of the project, the achieved indicators were higher (50 people took part in the action instead of the initially planned 30).

In the course of the project, the organisation Community Development Centre (CDC), inspired by the discussion on clusters and having trained the project’s staff in May 2016, set up a cluster under the name Georgian Wine & Tourism Cluster. This cluster was established on 10 September 2016, and in early 2017 it associated members, including cooperatives established in the project. The cluster is coordinated by the CDC. Ms Anna Margelasvili, together with entities associated in the cluster, attempted to draw up a joint strategy for its development that will make it possible to support the activity of newly created cooperatives in the longer term.

The partner and the advisory training staff implementing the project benefitted through the exchange of experience and by taking advantage of the Polish experience in implementing projects fostering entrepreneurship. The CDC is now capable of implementing similar projects on its own.