While before the COVID-19 crisis, Georgia’s economy was on a positive growth path, it is still facing challenges related to low productivity, poor diversification, unbalanced growth and unequal access to resources, manifested in significant economic and social disparities between rural and urban areas.
Underemployment and inefficiency are common features of the agriculture-based rural economy, which translates into low incomes, higher level of poverty and youth migration, leading to increased reliance on subsistence farming, remittances and social allowances from the Government.
The growth and long-term competitiveness of rural SMEs is, therefore, crucial not just for the rural economy but for the entire Georgian economy.
The project seeks to increase rural income and employment through sustained access to finance for rural SMEs through both supply and demand-side intervention. This requires enhancing the form and relevance of finance products on offer whilst strengthening the financial literacy and business capacities of rural SMEs through improved access to quality business developing services from national agencies, business associations and consultancies.
The project promotes the best business management practices amongst the rural SMEs, implying equal treatment of men and women. Increase in employment opportunities in rural areas has paramount importance for
rural women, who often do unpaid works at households. The project will also contribute to reducing youth migration from rural areas by facilitating entrepreneurial activities in non-agricultural sectors and creating off farm employment opportunities for rural youth.
The capacity of local providers of business development services (i.e. consultancies, business associations, the Enterprise Georgia Agency) will be improved so that they are able to provide more efficient services to rural SMEs.
This enables SMEs to increase their productivity, grow and diversify, thus using the untapped market potential, creating additional jobs and generating more income for rural men and women, hence reducing poverty.