On 19th May, H.E Heidi Grau, Ambassador of the Switzerland to Georgia, and Danielle Meuwly, Regional Director of cooperation, presented a new Swiss Cooperation Programme for the South Caucasus 2022-25. The programme includes a strong focus on improving economic development and the creation of decent jobs through effective private sector development.
SDC facilitated a panel session to discuss the experience of their key partners in the region. The panel comprised of Ivana Fernandes Duarte, Regional Manager of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Sabine Machl, United Nations Resident Coordinator, Alexander Karner, Head of Office of the Austrian Development Agency, and Tinatin Khatchvani, Head of the Donor Coordination Unit of the Government of Georgia. Swisscontact was represented by Richard Rose, Country Director in Georgia. He spoke on how the rural SME project has benefited from Switzerland’s expertise and working methods and how collaboration with SDC has strengthened the project’s ability to engage with the private sector in the long term.
Rose discussed how often development-private sector partnerships can be hampered by short-term thinking and transactional approaches. SDC through their flexible approach, long-term view, and commitment to quality provides a foundation for implementors to engage the private sector in a more meaningful way. This enables SDC projects that seek to contribute to inclusive economic growth – like the Rural SMEs Development Project in Georgia – to align actions with the long-term incentives of the partner and develop new models for inclusive growth and influence pro-poor market systems change.
The Rural SMEs Development Project (RSMEDP), financed by SDC, seeks to increase income and employment in rural Georgia in line with the Swiss Cooperation Programme South Caucasus Region 2022-2025. It achieves this through taking a market systems development approach to improve rural SMEs' access to finance and business support services. It is implemented by a Consortium of Swisscontact (lead), Mercy Corps and the Springfield Centre for business in development. The project runs from 2020-2024.
The launch event was held at the Hilton Garden Inn Tbilisi, Georgia.