Strengthened rural SME resilience takes root in Georgia

Sustainable agriculture
Rural Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Development (RSMED) Project in Georgia operates in the industry from 2020 and aims to create a better business environment for SMEs in rural areas of Georgia. The project seeks to support SMEs on the market to reach increasing rural income and employment by accessing to finance and business support services. It uses Market Systems Development (MSD) approach and cooperates with all the partners including government agencies and business associations. Beneficiaries of the project will be SMEs and employees including “Leave No One Behind” (LNOB) groups.

Enterprise Georgia (EG) is one of the main government agencies which works to assist entrepreneurs and SME founders to extend and develop their businesses by accessing to their state grants program the Micro and Small Business Support Program. On 4 May 2022 EG and the RSMEDP agreed to design and implement strategies to improve the promotion and targeting of the program, building on a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in December 2021.

"“I really appreciate the support of the Swiss-funded Rural SMEs Development Project in enabling us to test new ideas that can improve the effectiveness of the agency’s work”  "
 Irakli Gabriadze, Deputy Director of Enterprise Georgia

Since then, EG and the RSMED Project have been working to improve the quality and quantity of grant applications from underserved groups through targeted initiatives to support Azerbaijani and Armenian linguistic minority communities and those from designated socially vulnerable groups. 

These activities included a media campaign in minority languages that reached around 9000 Armenian and Azerbaijani speakers, showcasing previous ethnic minority awardees, and twenty-three mobilisation sessions with 275 local citizens (24% female) to encourage registrations for the grant competition.   To increase the quality of applications nine interview preparation sessions were conducted by partner CSOs to prepare registered applicants for the interview part of the application process – with the service taken up by 74 minority applicants (34% female).  Enterprise Georgia piloted additional support to those from registered socially vulnerable groups (SVG, those receiving state financial support due to their status) with 331 registered people from SVGs offered additional consultation services and 150 (52% female) receiving the consultations.

As a result of the mutual collaboration the number of registrations received from ethnic and linguistic minorities increased by over 200% and those receiving additional support in their own languages from EG and local CSOs had a 20% additional chance of success, with SVGs realising a 13% increased chance of winning compared to unsupported applicants.  The RSMED Project and Enterprise Georgia are continuing to work together to prepare better communication and coordination mechanisms to support under-served groups for the Micro and Small Business Support Program in 2023.

Sustainable agriculture, Trade, Entrepreneurial ecosystems
Creating a better business environment for rural small and medium-sized (SME) enterprises in Georgia
The Rural SME Development project aims at creating a better business environment for rural SMEs and entrepreneurs in Georgia.