Issue no: 1088/149
• OCTOBER 2 - 4, 2018
• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY
PRICE: GEL 2.50
In this week’s issue... Weekly Entrepreneurial News @entrepreneur.ge NEWS PAGE 2
Moscow, De Facto Authorities of Tskhinvali & Sokhumi Criticize Georgian PM BUSINESS PAGE 3
September 2018 Agri Review: The Sector at a Glance
FOCUS ON GEORGIAN POST A behind-the-scenes look at the amazing transformation of Georgia's postal service and the up-coming postal forum
ISET PAGE 4
Ozurgeti Denim Factory to Officially Open in October
BUSINESS PAGE 7
City Hall Meets with European Bankers
Russia to Limit Number of Foreigners Working on Construction Sites
BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE
bilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze, accompanied by Deputy Mayor Irakli Khmaladze, met Thursday with representatives of the European Investment Bank (EIB) as part of the EIB delegation’s official visit to Georgia. At a meeting of the Tbilisi Sakrebulo, the sides discussed large-scale projects to be implemented in the capital and plans for closer cooperation. Kaladze introduced municipal projects to the delegation members, in particular the public transportation reform plan. He emphasized the importance of the experience of EU countries in project implementation and of the financial assistance of the EIB. The parties agreed on a technical meeting in the near future to discuss issues related to financing various projects in the upgrading of Tbilisi’s transport system. EIB Vice-President Vazil Hudak promised to provide Kaladze maximum
BUSINESS PAGE 9
An Iranian Expert on Iran’s Place & Aspirations in the Region BUSINESS PAGE 13 Prepared for Georgia Today Business by
support in the implementation of the projects. The same day, Tbilisi Vice-Mayor Irakli Khmaladze and Deputy Mayor Maia Bitadze met with representatives of the Board of Directors of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). During the meeting, the participants discussed EBRD-supported projects and future cooperation plans. They also focused on the public transport transportation reform and parking issues in the capital. Bruno Balvanera, Head of the EBRD, offered City Hall his prganization's support for future projects.
Photo: Tbilisi City Hall
OCTOBER 2 - 4, 2018
Georgia Launches Third Stage of Mandatory Technical Inspection of Vehicles BY THEA MORRISON @entrepreneur.ge Gamarjoba! I am the Editor in Chief of the Georgian edition of Entrepreneur magazine and I am going to share the latest Entrepreneurial news with you:
Georgian Entrepreneurs have completed their ambitious project 3014 meters above sea level in the mountains of Kazbegi. Altihut can receive 35 guests and offers a variety of extra services including Heliskiing, adventure equipment, and more. The official opening is planned for mid-October.
If you have ever tried Georgian cuisine, you should remember that one of the most important secrets to making it so delicious is the wide variety of Georgian spices. Discover Georgian Startup Spy Recipe whose creators managed to find a new way of packaging different spices in eyecatching boxes – one for each of your favorite Georgian dishes, yes, even Khinkali! Soon, Spy Recipe boxes will be available in markets around Ukraine, Israel and the US!
TBC Bank, the leading financial institution in Georgia, has announced the Business Awards 2018, making this the third year the largest and most prestigious awards is being held. The Awards aim to support Entrepreneurs, who can register for different nominations on www. businessaward.ge Follow the Entrepreneur Georgia Instagram page @entrepreneur.ge and find out the latest updates from Georgian Entrepreneurs. For doing business with Georgian Entrepreneurs, write us on firstname.lastname@example.org
rom October 1, 2018, the third stage of mandatory technical inspections of vehicles was launched in Georgia, envisaging inspection of all automobiles with 3.0 engines and above. Obligatory technical inspection of vehicles took effect on January 1, 2018. The first stage required trucks of over 3.5 tons and passenger cars with more than 8 seats to undergo safety checks. The second stage, launched on July 1, 2018, required all vehicles registered to state entities to undergo a mandatory check, which was followed by the third stage from October 1. From January 1, 2019, the government expects to launch the final phase of the campaign and require all other vehicles to undergo mandatory testing. Vehicles which are four years old or less will not have to undergo an inspec-
tion. Cars that are four-six years old will undergo testing once every two years and cars older than six years will have to be tested every year.
Under the Georgia-EU Association Agreement signed in 2014, Georgia is obligated to ensure all vehicles are in line with EU standards.
EU to Support Georgia’s Education Reform Plans BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE
ead of the EU Delegation to Georgia, Carl Harcell, met last Thursday with Georgia’s Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport Mikheil Batiashvili and Deputy Minister Irine Abuladze. Harcell pledged to be an active supporter of the Ministry during the process of reforming the education system During the meeting, the participants discussed the planned reforms that Batiashvili has introduced. The Minister emphasized that developing the education system is the country's most important priority, and
Photo: Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport
noted the importance of EU support and participation in the reforms.
Both sides agreed to develop formal agreements for future cooperation.
GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 2 - 4, 2018
Moscow, De Facto Authorities of Tskhinvali & Sokhumi Criticize Georgian PM BY THEA MORRISON
he Russian Federation and the puppet regimes of Georgia’s occupied regions of Abkhazia (Sokhumi) and South Ossetia (Tskhinvali) have criticized Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze’s speech at the 73rd Session of UN General Assembly in New York, made on September 28. The Russian Foreign Ministry stated that Georgia's peace initiative, aimed at improving the situation in the occupied regions, is defined only by how it is perceived in Sokhumi and Tskhinvali. “The Georgian PM called on Russia not to interfere with a new peace initiative in relation to Abkhazia and South Ossetia. This speech left a strange feeling. As we see it, they are trying to convince the international community of something that is far from the reality, as if the population of those republics will be happy to return to the composition of Georgia if there are no Russian occupants. We hope that Georgian politicians understand the reality when they are not busy with their propagandistic exer-
cises,” Russian MFA said. Moreover, de facto foreign minister of the occupied Abkhazia Daur Kove said that Abkhazians, Ossetians and Georgians are citizens of different countries.
"The Prime Minister and the leadership of Georgia are wrong when they call us fellow citizens. We are citizens of different neighboring states, but not the same state…if Georgians want Abk-
135 Years of Vocational Education in Georgia
n October 2, the Tsinamdzghvriantkari Community College celebrated its 135th anniversary. The event hosted a summary presentation of the nation-wide Work-Based Learning initiative as one of the key areas of the ongoing Vocational Education and Training reform in Georgia. The event was organized by the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia, with assistance from
the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), in partnership with the Georgian Farmers’ Association. Mikheil Batiashvili, Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia; Oliver Bürki, Regional Director of the Swiss Cooperation Office in the South Caucasus; and Giorgi Nanobashvili, UNDP Economic Development Team Leader in Georgia,
addressed the participants. Nino Zambakhidze, Chairperson of the Georgian Farmers Association, then presented the results of Work-Based Learning in Georgia. Guests toured the renovated premises of the Tsinamdzghvriantkari Community College and attended an exhibition organized by students from all over Georgia to showcase the achievements of the Work-Based Learning program. Find out more on georgiatoday.ge.
Red Bull Lelos Winner Revealed BY MARIAM MERABISHVILI
he winner of the Red Bull Lelos 2018 Championship has been revealed. The final was held at the Martkopi Rugby Base on September 29. Victory this year was taken by the Junkers team who played against the ‘Children’ team and defeated them 11: 6 in a tense final. The third place was taken by the team One Chakra, which defeated Kirile Power 16: 5. Red Bull Lelos is an amateur Touch Rugby championship, which was held in
Georgia for the fourth time this year. Up to 50 teams were registered for free participation in the 2018 series. The qualifying matches were held in Kutaisi and Tbilisi on September 22-23 where the 10 best teams met each other in the finals.
The prize fund of the tournament amounted to 5000 GEL. First place winners, the Junkers, received 3000 GEL, second place Children won 1500 GEL, and the team taking the third place won 500 GEL. After the final match and award ceremony, the captain of the Junkers, Bondo Lomidze, evaluated the tournament and said that such competitions like Red Bull Lelos increase youth engagement in sport. Red Bull Lelos is an amateur tournament aimed at promoting rugby and a healthy lifestyle. The project supporters were: Georgian National Federation Sport for All, Bakuriani water, Vake Meat Products, Circle, and sport.adjara.com
hazians and Ossetians to live well, Georgia should stop the international isolation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia,” Kove stated. De facto S. Ossetia also echoed their
allies’ statements, saying “the problem with Georgia is that it greatly exaggerates its economic opportunities and, what is even more misleading, its geopolitical significance.” The breakaway region’s leadership says the Georgian PM’s statements are far from reality and do not match the aspirations of the Ossetian population. At the UNGA, Bakhtadze called on the Russian Federation to withdraw its forces from the territory of Georgia. He also added “there are no ethnic conflicts in Georgia. This is part of the aggressor’s propaganda.” The Prime Minister talked about the Georgian government's peace initiative, Step to a Better Future, aimed at overcoming the humanitarian disaster on the occupied territories and creating new opportunities for the citizens of Georgia living in the occupied regions. “With this initiative, we are fighting to stop the process of depopulation of the occupied territories and to ensure the protection of fundamental human rights. This initiative aims to provide the population living on the occupied territories access to healthcare and education services and to create conditions for business activities," said Bakhtadze.
French Science Day in Georgia BY ANNA ZHVANIA
n September 28, French Science Day was held at the Tbilisi State University (TSU), within the framework of "Science and Innovation Festival 2018," in cooperation with the French Institute of Georgia, the Embassy of France in Georgia and Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University. The event was intended for the scientific community as well as for students. The aim is to promote the existing and future French-Georgian scientific cooperation, get acquainted with the international research projects in which Georgian and French scientists participate, strengthen Georgia's integration into the European research field and raise awareness on the possibility of mobility in the field of science in France. The first half of the day was dedicated to International Cooperation of French Universities and Research Institutions, while the second part included presentation of international projects in which both countries take part, including: Vine genetics, bacteriophages and prehistoric discovery. The thematic workshops showed new prospects for cooperation
in microbiology, agriculture and humanitarian and social sciences. Within the framework of the event, the French Institute of Georgia and the Rustaveli National Science Foundation signed an agreement to help young Georgian researchers with financial aid in France. The research program will all ow Georgian scientists to conduct research yearly in France's partner research institutes. The event is supported by the Ministry of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Innovation, Agency Campus France and Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport of Georgia. It combines world-famous French scientific research institutes, including world famous French research institutes such as CNRS, Institut Pasteur, IRSTEA, IFEA, INP Bordeaux and University Lyon II.
OCTOBER 2 - 4, 2018
September 2018 Agri Review: The Sector at a Glance
gricultural production decreased by 0.8% in the second quarter of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017. In spite of decline in agricultural production, FDI in agriculture has increased. While FDI in agriculture is relatively low compared to the other sectors of the Georgian economy, it should be noted that agricultural FDI in the second quarter of 2018 reached its maximum of the last three years.
year. Prices dropped for the following subcategories: Sugar (-22.8%), Vegetable Oil (-16%), Dairy (-10.7%), and Meat (-4.6%). It is worth to note that in August 2018 FAO Sugar Price Index continued to d e c re a s e a n d marked at the lowest level in a decade. Such sharp decline in August was driven mainly by the continued depreciation of Brazilian and Indian currencies against the US dollar.
Increased FDI is not the only good news for the sector, another one is related to “Rtveli”, which started on August 20, and was not subsidized by the government for the first time in ten years. This change in the policy is expected to lead to better quality wine and more competitive grape growers and wine producers. Since Rtveli is not over yet, official statistics about the amount of grapes sold by farmers and their incomes, is not yet available. Although, according to the Ministry of Enrvironment Protection and Agriculture, the current Rtveli is notable for a higher amount of grapes sold and even higher incomes for grape growers.
DOMESTIC PRICES On a monthly basis, the price level in the country held relatively steady; the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in August 2018 slightly increased by 0.5% compared to July 2018. Compared to August 2017, the CPI experi-
enced a 3.1% increase. In the category of food and non-alcoholic beverages, prices increased by 1.5%, contributing 0.44 percentage points to the overall CPI change. The main drivers were price changes in the following sub-groups: vegetables (16.4%↗), fruits and grapes (-16.2%↙), milk, cheese and eggs (4.8%↗). From an annual perspective (August 2018 vs. August 2017), the prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages increased by 3.2%, contributing 0.96 percentage points to the annual inflation rate. The sharpest price changes were observed for the following sub-groups: vegetables (24.7%↗), fruits and grapes (-17.1%↙), milk, cheese and eggs (44%↗).
DAIRY PRICES IN THE SPOTLIGHT In August 2018, prices in the group of milk and milk products increased on a monthly basis as well as on an annual basis. As shown in the diagram, annual prices increased for milk (7%), Sulguni (6%), condensed milk and milk containing products (5%), fresh cheese (4%), cottage cheese (3%), manufactured milk (2%), yogurt (2%), and sour cream (1%). Meanwhile, prices decreased for Matsoni (-2%). According to milk producers, the main driver of increased prices was decreased milk production. Milk production decreased by 5% in both first and second quarters of 2018 compared to the same periods of the previous year (Geostat, 2018). The international prices of milk decreased; in August 2018, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Dairy Price Index decreased by 10. 7% compared to August 2017, reflecting the expectations of increased milk production in New Zealand. Moreover, the price of milk powder decreased. This could be a good news for Georgian dairy producers. In November, when milk production tends to decline even more, imported milk powder is used in dairy production. Accordingly, dairy producers will be able to buy milk powder at cheaper prices and reduce the production costs, which might finally translate into lower prices for milk and milk products.
INTERNATIONAL PRICES International prices decreased in August 2018. The Food Price Index, measured by the FAO decreased by 5.4% in August 2018, compared to the previous
TRADE HIGHLIGHTS During August 2018, Georgia’s agricultural exports (including food) amounted to 51 mln USD, which is around 25% of total Georgian export value. While comparing this indicator to August 2017, it is 7% lower. As to imports, in August 2018, Georgia’s agro imports stood at 90 mln USD, which constitutes 15% of total Georgian imports. Year over year (compared to March 2017), agricultural imports increased by 3%.
EXPORT DIVERSIFICATION During August 2018, Georgia’s agricultural exports (including food) amounted to $51 mln, which is around 25% of total Georgian export value. While comparing this indicator to August 2017, it is 7% lower. As to imports, in August 2018, Georgia’s agro imports stood at $90 mln, which constitutes 15% of total Georgian imports. Year over year (compared to March 2017), agricultural imports increased by 3%.
IMPORT DIVERSIFICAITON As to import diversification, the highest HHI for agricultural imports by product was observed in August 2017 (0.043), while the lowest (0.022) - in March 2018. The highest HHI for agricultural imports by countries was observed in February 2018 (0.132), while the lowest was in January 2018 (0.097).
POLICY WATCH The implemnetation of National Animal Identification System (NAITS) continues With the support from international donors the Government of Georgia has started to work on NAITS back in 2016. Identification and registration of animals is vital for ensuring tracking of animal products, which creates the basis for well-functioning food safety system in the country. For more information: http://www.interpressnews.ge/ka/article/512386-cxovelta-identipikaciisprogramis-implementacia-oie-konperenciazeganixiles
SUBSIDIES FOR BERRY PRODUCERS The Government of Georgia has initiated new support program for berry producers. According to this program, berry production is fully subsidized in selected five regions of Georgia. The subsidy covers purchase of seedlings and the whole production process which includes the cost of local or imported seedlings, drip irrigation and other inputs needed for berry production. For more information: https://bpn.ge/ finansebi/49018-rasheghavathebi-sheekhebathkenkrovani-kulturis-gashenebisas-metsarmeebs. html?lang=ka-GE
OCTOBER 2 - 4, 2018
Georgian Post: Delivering the Best EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES
evan Chikvaidze, General Director of Georgian Post: “While I was living in the United States, I needed to get some documents notarized. First, I had to send these to be signed by the Governor of the State of California- who at that time happened to be Arnold Schwarzenegger. It took some two weeks to get everything together. Then I sent it quite confidently via USPS to a Georgian address. Two months later, the Georgian post office told me they had found my documents, but they had got wet and so were unusable. And so I had to start again…” Not an unfamiliar story for those who have been living here a while. And with 11 years living here under my own belt, I can well sympathize the dark, dingy, post-civil war conditions Levan Chikvaidze met when he came to his position in 2012. With a big international postal forum coming up next week, GEORGIA TODAY sat down with the man to find out more about the past, present and future of the company. “I knew nothing about the postal service when I took up my position at the end of 2012, having come from the Parliament of Georgia. I lived and worked in the United States and could claim to be no more than a customer [of the Georgian postal service] before I took on the role of General Director. In fact, one could say there was no postal service. We had a lot of courier companies and franchises but no designated general operator. What I found when I came was a service without an operational system, governmental support or infrastructure run by staff without hope or motivation- earning only 50 GEL per month.” When he started, Chikvaidze began by addressing the European postal services, seeking opportunities to share experience of operation, commercialization and, ultimately, privatizationand they had over 20 years of it to share with Georgia. “The PostEurop community is an association with 52 Designated Operators , 49 of whm are member countries,” he told us. “In most countries,
the universal postal service is subsidized by the government. In the EU, the member countries have been working since the 1990s to move away from this format. Post is not a classical business but is well able to be run by the private sector. So far, full privatization has been achieved by very few countries in Europe. Deutsch Post still has 20% of its shares owned by the government, even though buying out DHL made it the strongest of its kind in Europe, as does Royal Mail in the UK. Privatization allows for greater flexibility in business. Georgian Post is 100% state-owned but it is our plan to work in the same direction, using the European experience to guide us.” Georgian Post has been a member of the Post Europe (PE) community since Chikvaidze came aboard. “The first thing they did was to allocate three experts to come and analyze our postal service and provide recommendations. They gave us a road map of what to do, and a two-year deadline. It was an eye-opener for us. A year-anda-half and a huge amount of restructuring later, we invited them back and they gave us the title of ‘Fastest developed designated operator.’ From there on in, we’ve kept up frequent communication.” We asked Chikvaidze what the most challenging apect had been to change as part of the rehaul, and he named the operational system, “because there was none,” he said. “We had to work on both quality and technology. IT solutions were a must, especially with us becoming part of the global IPS program (track-and-trace) in 2013- 2014. Georgian Post is part of the world’s postal chain and we all worked really hard to get to the required level.” Staffing was also an issue that needed to be dealt with and, in what many at the time considered a brutal manner, but which ultimately was a sacrifice that needed to be made, Georgian Post made large numbers of its employees redundant. “It was hard,” Chikvaidze admits, “but I was looking for Georgia’s most talented individuals to join us- in IT solutions, for example, where today we have one of the best crews. At the beginning, I took on three IT experts and then looked for students to be trained by them. As such, many young people have grown up as part of the Georgian Post family. The Europeans
stood by us, providing experience.”
LEADERS IN THE REGION Chikvaidze tells us that in Q1 2018, Georgian Post was the 10th country in quality of service in Europe. In Q2 Q3, it was second in the world for quality and delivery of Express Mail Services (EMS), second after Singapore but first in Europe. “It was an astounding achievement and makes all of us at Georgian Post feel proud. I’m thankful to each employee for their incredibly hard work- it was a success that they actively sought.” The geographical location of Georgia puts it in an ideal position to serve as a hub for transit post, as indeed it has been doing since Medieval times when couriers and messengers carried news across the country (source: The Georgian Chronicles ‘Kartlis Tskhovreba’). “We’re working on capacity development with transit postal items flowing from China to Europe and the US. Georgia has huge potential in this regard. Our location also gives us an advantage with regards e-commerce, our next big direction.” He tells us about Maleo, an electronic platform intended to enable the receipt of e-commerce packages from the United States in Georgia, such as items ordered through amazon or ebay. “Any adult resident of Georgia can open a postal address in the US and Georgian Post will ensure transportation of the e-commerce packages received at this address to Georgia and its delivery to the client wherever he may be in the country.” “‘Georgian Product to the World’ is another new project as part of Georgian Post’s commitment to promoting local businesses and entrepreneurs by enabling them to export their produce through us,” Chikvaidze says. “The online market is the biggest market. The first company joined the platform two days ago and already sold 49 products to be sent abroad.” The electronic platform Georgian Product to the World enables local manufacturers to sell products via webpages and have them delivered to customers through Georgian Post not only within Georgia but also abroad. The manufacturer concludes an agreement with Georgian Post entitling them to integrate the company API module with his/her own electronic shopping page. This allows customers to select shipping options, insure their package(s) and/or track movement of the products all the way from its purchase to its delivery. “We’re working with our 192 partner countries, a global chain working through Georgia, to deliver this ser-
vice,” Chikvaidze notes. “We aim to improve quality and availability along with the government plans for the full internetization of the country. When a new village is put online, we’re there to offer our postal and e-commerce services. We have 82 service centers countrywide.”
THE FORUM The October 4 PostEurop Business Innovation Forum and Postal Startup Summit will be showcasing some of the most successful start-ups working with postal operators in 49 EU countries in the areas of the Internet of Things, Digital Advertising, E-Commerce, Automation, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence. “The decision to hold the Forum and Summit in Tbilisi was made in 2015 following on from our successful overhaul,” Chikvaidze says. “We’re very excited to have such large companies and their head representatives coming. The Director General of the Universal Postal Service will be here with his deputy, as will the Head of the African Association of Postal Designated Operators- 54 of them in total, and management of PostEurop. On the second day we’ll have a business forum, up to 100 companies have already registered which work in the postal service or innovations. These 100 international and local companies have the chance to introduce each other to their products and services, making it an ideal opportunity for Georgian businesses working in digital innovations and Artificial Intelligence to meet the top operators in the field, through panels discussions and B2B meetings.”
THE BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT We asked Chikvaidze what he felt his biggest achievement had been in the past six years. “The Universal Postal Union has two councils: the Postal Operation Council and the Council of Administration. I encouraged the state, the Ministry of Economy, to apply for membership and we won the elections with 108 votes in 2016 to become members of both councils and Vice-Chairman of the Council of Administration, meaning we are involved in international law-making in this area. We expected no more than 23
votes but with a bit of work and a bit of luck, we beat the 90-vote benchmark – something that meant a great deal in my life and in the lives of our employees. I’m happy when I see the happy faces of my employees, this is not only because the average salary comes in at 876 GEL now, but because they are part of a successful and growing business serving the local and global community and economy.”
ABOUT GEORGIAN POST Georgian Post represents a leading national postal operator that is mainly involved in providing consumers with universal postal services. The company is oriented on using modern technologies that allows it to provide its clients with as fast a service as possible. Georgian Post is a member of the UPU and PostEurop international postal unions. The latter represents the European social postal association founded in Brussels in 1993, including 52 postal operators from 49 countries. The Universal Postal Union was established in Swiss Capital Bern in 1874. Being one of the world’s oldest associations, it unites 192 countries. Since 2015, the company rebranded, renewed its service centers, re-trained employees, created new labor standards and established innovative technologies that resulted in the Georgian Post having been recognized as a trustworthy and important partner. The Georgian Post represents the largest postal organization in the country with a wide range of services as well as the most expanded network of service centers, 82 throughout Georgia, with 2700 highly-qualified employees. Georgian Post carries out the following actions: - Receiving, sending and delivering mailings (letters, parcels, postcards, print materials) within the country and internationally, through the Universal Postal Union (UPU) and the International Express Mail Service (EMS) network; - Receiving utility service payments; - Domestic money transfers as well as transfers towards Belgium, Turkey, Japan, Greece, Lithuania, Latvia and the CIS; - Telegraph services within the country to rural and regional centers
GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 2 - 4, 2018
Ozurgeti Denim Factory to Officially Open in October
BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE
n Georgia’s western region of Guria, the Ozurgeti Denim Factory has launched preliminary operations in testing mode and has hired its first employees – approximately 150 women. The establishment of the factory was first announced in January 2017 when the then-governor of Guria, Gia Salukvadze, met with Pakistani investor Amjad Malik, head of LLC Malik Textile, to discuss the potential for a denim factory in Ozurgeti. A deal to construct a factory was finalized in August of last year with a different company – Turkish textile brand Baykanlar. At that stage, Baykanlar committed to invest 2 million GEL and employ 300 people under the name Ozurgeti Garment. During the initial planning stage, Salukvadze emphasized the project’s three priorities: “creating new workplaces, maximizing support from investors, and
protecting labor rights.” The Ozurgeti Garment factory will construct jeans for well-known international brands such as Zara, Mango, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, and Esprit. Speaking to BM.GE, Salukvadze confirmed that the first shipments of jeans have already been exported, and that he was personally involved in the inauguration of the factory. The factory’s official opening date is set for October 2018. At that point, an additional 150 people will be hired to increase the number of employees to a total of 300. As part of the Enterprise Georgia program, the Government of Georgia gave Ozurgeti Garment 9 m2 of land from what was formerly a tea factory, supported by the LEPL National Agency of State Property of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia. The tea factory has not operated for more than 25 years. The stateowned property was valued at approximately 400,000 GEL. As a condition of receiving the property, the investor was obligated to invest at least 1.6 million
GEL in the development of the land. Total investment in the denim factory and surrounding territory is expected to reach 25 million GEL, and a main factory building and four auxiliary workshops will be constructed by 2021. Up to 2,000 people are expected to be employed in some capacity by Ozurgeti Garment by the year 2021. Ozurgeti Garment is scheduled to produce at least two million pairs of jeans annually. Enterprise Georgia has supported nearly 300 projects in a variety of industries. The specific plot of land in the small city of Ozurgeti was carefully selected. The investors from Baykanlar visited several sites throughout Georgia to evaluate what would be best suited for their needs. “We arrived in Georgia a month ago. In Ozurgeti we explored the existing territories, selected the former tea factory territory for opening a clothes factory to sew jeans and export products to various European countries to customers,” said company representatives. Baykanlar Tekstil is owned by brothers Osman and Erkan Baykan. The company has been operating since 1998, manufacturing a variety of denim clothing products for international brands and under their own brand name, sold in stores in several countries. Regarding their international production, the Baykanlar website explains “Our extensive network for global sourcing and procurement empowers us to produce competitive, qualified and value-added products on time…Each step of our production is carefully observed to assure the required standards of craftsmanship, quality and reliability. We take action to do the right thing and hold responsibility for our decisions, operations and products in the best interest of our customers.”
Moldova Prepares for Economic Leap BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE
he first Moldovan-Russian forum was held in Chisinau in September, a landmark for the economy of the republic. The first Moldovan-Russian forum in the republic was named the main economic event of the year. As part of the event, agreements worth $ 250 million were signed. “This is a serious leap towards financial
stability for the state,” said Moldovan leader Igor Dodon, going on to highlight that the investments will help if not stop then reduce, the outflow of the ablebodied population from Moldova. “The task for Chisinau is ambitious: to modernize the economy of the whole country. The Moldovan business sector needs investments, and Russian business needs space for expansion. During the forum, representatives of both countries concluded beneficial agreements worth millions of dollars, and therefore the forum in Chisinau will certainly have a continuation.”
OCTOBER 2 - 4, 2018
The Potential of Blockchain Technology in Georgia
G Law Office, through the contribution of partners Archil Giorgadze and Nicola Mariani, joined by senior associates Irakli Sokolovski, Ana Kochiashvili, Tamar Jikia and associates Ana Chikovani, Elene Samadbegishvili, and Mariam Kalandadze is partnering with GEORGIA TODAY on a regular section of the paper which will provide updated information regarding significant legal changes and developments in Georgia. In particular, we will highlight significant issues which may impact businesses operating in Georgia. *** Blockchain has become an essential modern technology not only for virtual currencies, but it has also demonstrated high potential for revolutionizing the daily operations of private business as well as state entities. The technology represents a cryptographically-secured transaction record created without the intervention of a central authority. Due to its technological peculiarities, blockchain is considered a transformational mechanism capable of creating great value for society.
WHAT IS BLOCKCHAIN? Blockchain was initially introduced to the broader society after release of a whitepaper entitled “Bitcoin: A Peerto-Peer Electronic Cash System” in 2008 by a pseudonymous person(s) named Satoshi Nakamoto, whose identity is still unknown. Blockchain, also known as distributed ledger technology (“DLT”), operates through digital ledgers using cryptographic algorithms to verify the creation and transfer of digitally represented assets over a so called “peer-to-peer” network on a decentralized basis. The technology was mainly invented to support the development of virtual currencies in order to avoid intermediaries, such as banks or other financial institutions. Blockchain consists of two major components: a block and a chain. A block with information consists of a “hash” which converts data (input of letters and numbers) into an encrypted output
Image source: http://www.chambers-associate.com/where-to-start/ commercial-awareness/blockchain-and-the-law-an-exclusive-insight
in order to verify the data has not been tampered with or modified in any way. Every successive block contains the hash of the previous block, creating a chain. Thus, every blockchain-based transaction depends on the previous one, so the ledgers are unalterable and easily traceable. Therefore, it is impossible to modify or erase any data synchronized on blockchain, since every single record is individually encrypted and timestamped. Consequently, any attempt to alter the information contained in the previous block will provoke a mismatch leading to the break of the chain. Another feature of safety is that the data synchronized on blockchain is being run on thousands of computers worldwide, which significantly reduces the risks of hacking attacks.
REGULATORY FRAMEWORK Nowadays, the regulatory approach towards blockchain, as well as towards virtual currencies, is quite diverse around the globe. Despite the fact that the application of blockchain is expanding rapidly, the majority of states still have not developed a consistent approach to how the industry should be regulated. However, within the last decade, since blockchain was firstly introduced to the wider public, a number of nations have begun to embrace this innovation. Governments of several states have even initiated incentivizing processes through the expansion of blockchain technology application, and aim to attract investors by offering them preferential regimes.
A number of states, such as Australia, Canada, the UAE, Estonia, France, Switzerland and Japan have taken crucial steps towards supporting the industry through creation of a friendly regulatory framework and business environment. Recently, Belarus became another active supporter of blockchain industry development by approval of the Decree on the Development of the Digital Economy which liberalized the conditions for conducting businesses in the field of high technologies. According to the statements of the Belorussian government, the state decided to focus on creation of a friendly regulatory and business regime in order to stimulate development of IT technologies, including blockchain.
MAJOR ADVANTAGES OF BLOCKCHAIN AND AREAS OF APPLICATION While it has been a decade since blockchain appeared in the public spotlight, the real potential of this technology was only discovered quite recently. In contrast to traditional operating systems, blockchain-based solutions can simplify and make much more transparent the operations of private corporate, as well as governmental, institutions. In the past few years, it has been repeatedly demonstrated that blockchain can be applied not only to the financial sector, such as virtual currencies, but in any field that needs a fast, secure and accurate record keeping system. The major and most essential feature of this technology is
that data “uploaded” on blockchain cannot be easily deteriorated regardless of the social, economic or political powers of the transaction participants. Apart from efficiency and trustworthiness of blockchain, the technology can considerably reduce transaction and administrative costs. Alongside the representatives of the financial sector, other business entities, including governmental bodies, are exploring the potential of blockchain application in different sectors, such as public sector administration, real estate registry, data maintenance, stock exchange, education, asset holding, contract management, identity proof, insurance and healthcare and even blockchain-based elections. This summer, the Swiss authorities made a ground-breaking announcement to hold a pilot municipal vote in the canton of Zug. The elections were conducted through a blockchain-based system that allowed the citizens of Zug to vote using their digital ID cards.
THE POTENTIAL OF BLOCKCHAIN IN GEORGIA Over recent years, international practice has demonstrated that the implementation of blockchain can significantly reduce transaction costs, as well as increase citizen access to public services. Georgia is one of the forerunners in the integration of blockchain in the public sector. The Ministry of Justice of Georgia commenced application of blockchain in the maintenance of land titles on the Bitcoin blockchain. In 2016, the National Agency of Public Registry (the “NAPR”) announced the plan to pilot the first blockchain land-titling registry in the country. The project aimed to integrate public records on real estate into the custom-designed blockchain digital records system of the NAPR. The system is anchored to Bitcoin blockchain through a distributed digital time-stamping. This mechanism allows the NAPR to verify a document comprising of the information on the property ownership. Since 2017, extracts proving ownership or transactions related to real estate are being uploaded onto the blockchainbased platform. This event became one of the first success stories of a national
government integrating use of a private blockchain in the authentication and securitization of state operations at the international level. In light of the successful local and international experience of blockchain application in different fields, there are other potential sectors in which application of blockchain can be expanded. In particular, state authorities can integrate blockchain in the following areas: • documentation and records management; • issuance of permits and licenses; • corporate registries; • capital markets; • state procurement; • customs; and • tax administration. Considering the recent reforms related to the creation of accumulative pension reform in Georgia, a special application will be created for administration and accumulation of the pension contributions made to the LEPL Pension Agency. Thus, blockchain, being a safe, transparent and cost-effective technology, can also be potentially used in development of an application for management and monitoring of the accumulative pension system. *** Note: this article does not constitute legal advice. You are responsible for consulting with your own professional legal advisors concerning specific circumstances for your business. MG Law is the first full-service law firm in Georgia to be founded by international partners. The firm advises a diverse group of Georgian and foreign companies, financial institutions, investment funds, governments and public enterprises. Among many other areas, the firm primarily focus on the following sectors: Banking & Finance, Capital Markets, Arbitration & Litigation, Labor & Employment, Infrastructure and Project Finance, Energy Law, Real Estate, Tax and Customs, Investment Law, Corporate Law, Real Estate, Infrastructure & Finance Projects, and Cryptocurrency & Blockchain. For more information, please visit www. mglaw.ge or contact Archil Giorgadze at email@example.com and Nicola Mariani at Nicola.firstname.lastname@example.org
Armenian Deputy PM: We Should Give up the Dollar in an interview with MIR-24 TV channel, while speaking about the prospects of the EEU. He went on to claim that the relevance of this process is obvious. Earlier, at the plenary meeting of the World Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russian President Vladimir Putin noted that more and more countries are thinking about abandoning the dollar and switching to trading in national currencies. In his opinion, it is also right to develop bilateral trade in national currencies from the standpoint of the sustainability of world finance and the world economy.
BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE
eputy Prime Minister of Armenia, Mher Grigoryan, has suggested the country give up use of the US dollar for trade and transition to the unified currency of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). “Benefits that can be obtained from economic integration and alliances are fewer if done in the currency of another union or another country,” Grigoryan said
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GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 2 - 4, 2018
Russia to Limit Number of Foreigners Working on Construction Sites
BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE
he Government of the Russian Federation has proposed that from 2019, the number of foreign workers employed in the construction sector will be limited to 80% of the total number of workers in the enterprise. "There will be a reduction in the foreign labor force in the sphere of construction, which is the main sphere of employment of migrant labor,” said Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova at a meeting of the Russian Tripartite Commission for Regulating the Social Labor relations. “It is proposed to establish the share of foreign workers in construction at a maximum 80%.” The corresponding Cabinet of Ministers draft
resolution is supported by associations of workers and employers, she added. According to the Federal State Statistics Service, the construction sector employs 6.3 million people, “a significant proportion of whom are migrants,” added Golikova. After the resolution comes into force, part of the work places will be taken by Russians, since in the regions there is “enough manpower” for this. As explained by the press service of the Ministry of Labor, in the past there were no restrictions on attracting foreign labor in the sphere of construction - migrants could make up to 100% of the number of employees in a construction company. If the decree is adopted, the share of workers will be limited to 80% from 2019. The press service added that the imposed restriction will not affect three regions Moscow, Khabarovsk Krai and Amur, whose permissible share of foreign workers will remain at 100%.
IDFI Says State Officials' Remuneration System Not Transparent Enough BY THEA MORRISON
eorgia-based non-governmental organization, the Institute for the Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI), has revealed a number of shortcomings in the state remuneration system after the Parliament of Georgia adopted a new Law on Salaries in Public Facilities on December 22, 2017. The NGO carried out a study and claim that the system of remuneration is not transparent enough, despite the fact that after the adoption of the new law, the remuneration of workers employed in public institutions was strictly determined. The new law significantly restricts bonuses and salary supplements in the public sector. In particular, the maximum amount of wage supplements issued over the year has been limited to 20% of the annual salary and 10% of the cash supplement annually. At the same time, according to the law, high-rank political officials were banned from getting bonuses and supplements. The IDFI stressed that the law does not cover all state institutions, noting that it is a challenge. The NGO studied public information received from about 100 public institutions (the Presidential Administration, Parliamentary Staff, Ministries, Ministries and other independent LEPLs) on the remuneration paid to employees and officials after the entry into force of the new law. The organization says that recent legal restrictions on granting bonuses and salary supplements have not affected the total remuneration received by public officials, adding most of the officials receive monthly salaries of the same amount of money they received as a salary, bonus and supplement before the law was adopted. Furthermore, the NGO says in many cases monthly salaries of particular officials exceed the monthly salaries of their superior officials. For example, according to the survey, the salaries of the deputies of the ministers of Economics, Defense, Internal Affairs, Justice and also Foreign Ministry (GEL 7,500) exceed the remuneration received by the
Image source: kr.co.za
ministers (GEL 6,250). According to the study, the monthly salary of the President of Georgia is GEL 6,900 and GEL 6,250 for the Head of the President’s Administration. The first deputy of the Head of the President’s Administration gets paid GEL 5,770 per month, the salary of the deputy of the Head of the President’s Administration is GEL 5,440 per month. The President’s Parliamentary Secretary receives GEL 5,410 per month and the monthly salary for the Department Head is GEL 4,400. The NGO claims that majority of officials get the same amount of monthly salaries as they used to receive before activation of the new law, adding no fundamental changes have taken place in the system. It also says the new law on remuneration does not apply to such departments (state companies, regulatory commissions, etc.), whose supervisors receive the highest salary in the public sector. The IDFI believes that disclosure of detailed information about the remuneration of certain officials still remains an important issue as some state institutions refused to provide them with the requested information. “For years, Georgia has had a flawed, unfair and non-transparent system of public service remuneration… One such flaw is the fact that the most recent legal restrictions on using bonuses and salary supplements have not affected the total remuneration received by public officials, whose salaries were increased to accommodate the loss of bonuses and supplements,” Levan Avalishvili, Programs Director at the IDFI stated.
OCTOBER 2 - 4, 2018
New Startup MoonLife Shares Tbilisi’s After Hours Culture BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE
oonLife is a new startup in the Georgian capital that organizes afterdark tours, club and bar crawls, and other edgy, nighttime events. GEORGIA TODAY sat down with educator and entrepreneur Ani Zedginidze, one of the co-founders of the company, to learn more about the project.
HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH MOONLIFE, AND WHO ELSE IS ON THE TEAM? I have always been interested in creating something new and useful by connecting and mixing things that just exist around us; actually, that is exactly what entrepreneurship is all about – finding new and cooler ways to solve problems and, ultimately, to make people’s lives easier. When I decided that this was exactly what I want to do with my life, I started taking classes at the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, which was implemented and supported by Crystal, YES Georgia, PH International and USAID. In the end, I got investment funding for my startup – that is where MoonLife was born. Right now, we have programmers, a designer, and a tours manager on our team. I met them all during a project supported by the US Embassy where I work as a Program Coordinator.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE MOONLIFE? Moonlife is the first and only company that provides unforgettable Tbilisi nightlife tours and experiences for tourists and Fun Hunters. They can book their night adventures through our website
and application. Currently, we provide a Tbilisi Club/Bar Crawl – in this tour, we make sure tourists feel the nightlife vibes just like locals, which means we provide lots of chacha, Georgian wine, quality music, and huge dance floors. Also, local businesses or startups that provide original tours throughout the country can place their offers on the MoonLife.events website that can be booked by tourists anytime.
ers are more than welcome to join us. This is a great opportunity to meet people around the globe, exchange culture/ traditions and share the awesome Georgian experience provided by MoonLife.
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU’VE FACED SO FAR? Creating such a big web page and app with programmers was a challenge until I got to know their work better. At first it was hard to manage the project when we literally communicated in totally different languages, I mean, I spoke Georgian to them and they spoke Python to me!
WHAT ARE YOUR SHORT TERM AND LONGTERM GOALS FOR THE COMPANY? As our short-term goal, we want to add more exciting tours and events in Tbilisi. In the long run, we plan to evolve throughout the country and beyond the borders of Georgia.
WHY DO YOU THINK TOURISTS SHOULD CONSIDER MOONLIFE NIGHT TOURS OVER OTHER TYPES OF CITY TOURS? WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT WHAT YOU OFFER?
DO YOU THINK THERE’S A DEMAND FOR THIS BUSINESS? ARE YOU FILLING A GAP? Tbilisi’s economy is so oriented towards nightlife that has become a worldwide hotspot for clubbing or, as the most popular magazines write, “the second Berlin.” We even have a new Deputy Mayor of Night Economy. This is all attractive for nightlife lovers around the globe. When tourists are interested in Tbilisi nightlife they face some problems. First, there are no locals that provide guided tours to the best nightlife spots in Tbilisi, and usually tourists end up with half the experience they could have got out of one Tbilisi night. Second, when they travel, they book their flights and hotel/hostel online, but they waste so much time figuring out what to do at night, which place is better, that it becomes disturbing.
Image source: MoonLife
Third, different people are creating exciting businesses geared towards this new opportunity, but there is no website or application where tourists can find all the information about it in one place. That is where MoonLife steps in – we provide guided night tours in the coolest places in Georgia, so tourists can Rock It Like Locals. We created the first website and application for tourists oriented on nightlife and other exciting
tours in the country. We create opportunities for night businesses to place their offer on osur web site. And, most importantly, tourists can book their night experiences online before they visit Georgia.
WHO ARE YOUR TARGET CUSTOMERS? For Club/Bar Crawl tours, mostly tourists aged 18 and up, but local Fun Hunt-
Traveling is all about gathering pleasant memories and they are not created by just visiting famous sights: they’re usually created by communication and sharing fun experiences with other people. When I travel, I want to feel that place fully, hang out with locals, see and feel how they live, talk, dress, gesticulate, make jokes, eat and have fun. I care about the countries’ past, history, culture and beautiful architecture, but I also want to feel the real life that locals live in the present. That is where our uniqueness is – we provide such a service, that turns into pure happy memories for our customers. For more information or to book a tour, visit their Facebook page or, coming soon, www. MoonLife.events. Tours officially begin October 13.
Revenue Service: Omega Group Property to Be Sold on Auction BY THEA MORRISON
eorgia’s Revenue Service (RS) reports that the property of Omega Group, which is the producer of tobacco products, will be sold at auction if the company does not pay its debt to the state which accumulated as a result of not paying tax. According to the agency, the Revenue Service has the right to sell the property of the company on the decision of two instance courts. “Payment of taxes is mandatory for everyone to the amount and manner established by law. Taxes are transferred to the budget, from which funds are distributed to various financial or social and economic programs,” the RS stated. It also says that Omega Group Tobacco (OGT) first violated the obligation to pay taxes in October 2014 which initially amounted to 18,444 GEL. “As of March 2015, the company's tax liability increased to GEL 147,952…By January 6, 2016, the company’s debt had reached GEL 1,496.797. The company asked us to schedule a payment which was violated the same month,” the RS statement reads. The agency explains that as of January 26, 2016, OGT's tax liability increased to
GEL 3,402.943. At the same time, the payer's request was satisfied and a new schedule was set up which, according to RS, was violated almost every month. “In total, the company applied to us 11 times to postpone compulsory measures against them and all their requests were satisfied. However, by the end of 2017, the taxpayer was no longer paying taxes… Their debt had reached GEL 38 million,” the statement reads. RS says that this year the request of the company to give them more time was not satisfied and in August 2018, the accounts and stocks of the company were sequestrated. As of August 07, 2018, the company's debt stood at GEL 49,159.970. “Accordingly, the Ministry of Finance of Georgia and the Revenue Service of Georgia are implementing measures envisaged by law to eliminate tax arrears and eliminate the existing debt,” the agency stated. In March 2018, the Revenue Service appealed to Tbilisi City Court to obtain a permit for the sale of seized property of OGT. In June, the Tbilisi City Court satisfied the request of the Revenue Service, which was appealed by the company. On the decision of the Appeals Court on 25 July 2018, the company's complaint was not satisfied and the Revenue Service was granted permission to sell the sequestered property of Omega Group.
Image source: Omega Group Tobacco
TV Company Iberia, which is owned by Omega Group, stated many times that the financial problems were created in order to out pressure on the TV station. The broadcaster stated they might shut down as their main financial donor was OGT.
In their joint statement, released midSeptember, the staff of Iberia TV called on the Prime Minister and the Government of Georgia to reach agreement with Omega Group and enable the TV company continue functioning. Omega Group asks the government to
restructure and re-schedule their debt. According to them, the government does not help them because TV Company Iberia is often criticizing the authorities. In addition, according to Iberia, Omega Group sued the former and current highranking officials of the court.
GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 2 - 4, 2018
IBF Sales Management Event to Be Held at Tech Park Tbilisi
BY ANA DUMBADZE
he International Business Forum (IBF) is the only Georgian company hosting international forums, masterclasses, conferences and events. Seven events are planned within the scope of IBF this year: Digital Marketing, Project Management, Strategy Planning, Sales Management, HR Management, Public Relations and Branding. Among them, one of the most important, Sales, will take place on October 4 at Tech Park Tbilisi. Within the frames of the workshops cycle, world prominent brand representatives and #1 sales coaches, experienced experts and consultants will visit Tbilisi. Evgeny Kotov, a renowned business coach, an expert in staff motivation and sales management, founder of the Practicum Group company (Russia), will host the masterclass. The workshop will showcase some of the most successful start-ups. Kotov is a regular speaker at the biggest business forums of Russia and the European continent and has a business territory of 85 cities in nine countries: Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Germany, Latvia, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Moldova, and Kyrgyzstan. More than 50 000 business owners, executives and employees have so far visited the “live” trainings of Evgeny Kotov. The main topics of the workshop hosted by the experienced business coach are: What is the right formula for sales? How can we sell products based on questions? How can we develop a sales strategy on our own specifics? How can we complete negotiations? How can we develop sales skills? Sponsors of the event include Zummo Georgia and My.ge. According to the director of Zummo Georgia, Salome Inadze, the above-mentioned workshop was interesting for their company due to its speaker and his experience in sales management, as well as for the expected attendees and the opportunities to raise awareness about their company. “As we are the startupers, attending this interesting and informational workshop is quite important for us. It’s a great opportunity to spread information about our natural juices. We’ll show the audience the difference between the juices produced by Zummo Georgia and other companies. We will demonstrate our trendy Vending Machine for Cold-Pressed Citrus Juice, ensuring that your choice is one that will benefit the body and mind,” Inadze elaborated. Zummo Georgia is a representative of Zummo Innovaciones Mecánicas, a Spanish company founded in Valencia which in 1992 started its quest for the perfect fruit juice, gradually becoming a global benchmark in the design and manufacture of automatic citrus juicing machines and selling its products in over 90 countries. Today, Zummo has become a consolidated company and a prestigious brand known for quality in its sector and endorsed by its exclusive squeezing system EVS (Efficient Vertical System). The fruit is cut precisely into two halves which are then squeezed by pressure. The machines do not damage the peel and the juice never passes over it, thus pro-
ducing an oil-free, bitterness-free flavor. The machines can handle all types of citrus fruit including oranges, mandarins, grapefruit, lemons and limes, and even pomegranates. The company offers the only machines on the market that allow the entire juicing process to be seen, attracting customers and encouraging consumption. Another sponsor of the event is My.ge, one of the biggest E-commerce organizations in Georgia covering such leading webpages as: www.MyAuto. ge, www.MyMarket.ge, www.MyHome.ge, www. MyJobs.ge, www.MyParts.ge, www.MyAds.ge and www.MyDeal.ge. My.ge has been offering customers simple, affordable and quality websites since 2003. The company has 14 years’ experience in its field and is distinguished by the simplified search function, giving users the opportunity and comfort to easily find the desired car, real estate, product or service. In turn, the sellers can reach a greater audience of potential buyers / customers. The websites of the company are popular in Georgia due to their comfortable service and high-quality technologies. According to Madona Kachkachashvili, the Marketing and Talent Development Manager of My.ge, being a sponsor of the upcoming workshops is interesting from the sponsor's perspective as well as from the participant’s perspective. “Last year, after attending a one-day event organized by IBF, My.ge decided to become a partner and sponsor of this organization for future events. Each workshop gives practical knowledge on a specific topic and, after each event, the participant is ready to change and improve their organization. Similar changes create real progress and improvement in the Georgian business environment, which we would like to assist and facilitate. The attendees receive information on the methods of successful or unsuccessful steps / instruments by international professionals. Even startupers who do not have the opportunity to hire staff with international experience have the opportunity to get advanced knowledge and practical tools to use in their own organizations. This is a great luxury and possibility for Georgian companies and for the whole of Georgia for improving the business environment. MY.ge is pleased to be a sponsor and partner of this process and we wish the organizers of the event success within each event,” she noted. The International Business Forum was founded in Georgia in 2015 and its core activities include hosting international speakers in Georgia. The main objective of IBF is to develop the sphere of narrow professions and hold master classes in these narrow segments. IBF hosts professionals from specific areas who share their experience and offer advice on what works and what does not. The aim is also to connect people within the same profession and create an interesting, comfortable day where they all have the opportunity to learn.
OCTOBER 2 - 4, 2018
Elit Electronics Brings New Style to the Market ADVERTORIAL
lit Electronics has been working in the consumer market for 23 years. Over time, the company and the brands it represents have made big changes: the network of stores has been expanded, new concept stores introduced, and a memorandum of cooperation has been signed with several leading brands whose official representative in Georgia was chosen as Elit Electronics. In addi-
tion, the list of hardware categories was increased in stores. These achievements have led to the repositioning of the brand and strategic platform. A strategic platform was designed, based on which the Elit Electronics marketing team worked to change the logo visuals. And a new logo is nothing if it does not have the right background, so, over the years, the communication strategy has been improved and, according to the amendments, brands were rejuvenated, and the age of the target groups reduced. You can see how in recent advertisements the brand is getting
younger, and correspondingly the Elit Electronics logo possesses a number of graphic shapes that reflect the modern trends of the company. Most importantly, the word ELIT has been expanded in size compared to the word ELECTRONICS to demonstrate that the company is focused on the exclusivity of its own products and services. Elit Electronics is the largest trading network in the hardware market and is represented by the largest range of products. Many new projects are to be designed to create more comfort for consumers and to fully respond to the market require-
ments. Elit Electronics is the most available in both the geographical and pricing sphere. Elit Electronics is a place for all generations, and in the past few years the modern trends in the communication strategy have moved beyond TVonly advertising to encompass the digital world. The new logo is also customized to reflect this fact. The aim of the brand is to increase its household level on the Georgian market; to move towards development. “We believe that development and advancement are created by the people promoting technological development today.
Elit Electronics makes technological developments and progress accessible to Georgia. That is why the main communication message of the brand is ‘Go ahead,’” said Lado Jobava, General Director of Elit Electronics. The rebranding of the company is recognition of everything it has already achieved. In the past two decades, the company's area of operation has grown impressively, and it is now the market's unconditional leader. Rebranding is a reflection of those achievements and of the larger future plans of the company.
Focus on Georgian Start-ups: the Apple Chip Business BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE
he startup Enkeni was founded in 2016 by three students of the Georgian Agrarian University: Nona Noniashvili, Tamara Sheitnishvili, and Shako Mdzinarashvili. The name Enkeni comes from an old Georgian word for September – the season of fruit harvesting. Enkeni uses freshly picked apples to make their popular dried apple chips. GEORGIA TODAY spoke with Enkeni’s founders to learn more about their young business.
WHAT IS ENKENI AND HOW DID YOU GET STARTED? Our idea was born at the Georgian Agrarian University. The administration and staff members helped us in many ways, so we are truly grateful to them. The aim was to start a business in the field of innovative food technologies. Our team won several business competitions in a short period of time and we formed one strong team with a singular purpose – to create a global and loveable brand. We work together very well, we possess great motivation and support to each other. Our team functions as one organism.
HOW DID YOU DEVELOP THE IDEA FOR THE PRODUCT? The three of us were motivated to start our own business and were looking for ideas. During one specific lecture on general food technologies, our idea was born: to produce apple chips by using our own drying regimes to create an innovative, healthy, and high-quality product.
HOW WAS THE DEVELOPMENT PROCESS? The development process wasn’t so easy,
and we believe it’s the same for every startup. But we also believe that if you truly want your idea to work out, you have to put yourself 100% into whatever you’re doing. Only then will you get positive results. Right now, our biggest challenge is to diversify our products and markets, meaning we want to add new and innovative products and to start exporting. We’ve already begun negotiations for exporting to the US, Egypt, and more.
HAS THE GEORGIAN AGRICULTURE COMMUNITY BEEN WELCOMING TO YOU OR IS IT A COMPETITIVE ENVIRONMENT? Of course, there is competition, but the local community and the majority of business owners are welcoming and encoure us as young entrepreneurs.
WHERE DID YOU GET YOUR ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT? We are not sure about that…maybe it’s because we felt that our country has potential to incubate and develop businesses. We knew it would be difficult, but we still believed in our idea so much that there was no way back for us.
DO YOU THINK THE GEORGIAN MARKET CAN SUSTAIN A TOTALLY NEW PRODUCT? As founders of Enkeni, we decided to have face to face contact with our customers. That’s why, for the last eight months, we’ve been holding tastings in different markets, taking part in exhibitions, and talking to our customers directly. Our customers are the #1 priority for us and we want to take their feedback into account to become a better company every day and to create suitable products for our customers.
WHAT IS YOUR LONG-TERM
Image source: Enkeni
VISION FOR THE COMPANY?
Our main mission is to support healthy lifestyles, that’s why our main direction is to offer healthy, innovative, and trendy food, snacks, to the local and global market. We want to grow Enkeni into a globally known brand which will be associated with a friendly and open company, not just a big corporation.
WHAT ARE YOUR NEXT STEPS IN THE SHORT TERM? The partial automation of our factory to simplify processes and grow productivity. We also want to start developing new, innovative products, implement cold storage, and enter more markets to gain more customers.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO LOCATE YOUR FACTORY
OUTSIDE TBILISI? WHAT IS IT LIKE WORKING IN THE REGIONS? Our factory is located in the village of Ditsi, near the Tskhinvali Administrative Boundary Line, [approximately 30 km north of Gori]. The social and economic situation has significantly worsened in this area since 2008, after the war between Russia and Georgia. Many locals left the village due to unemployment. We had two main reasons to build our factory there: first, to improve the general social situation by creating employment opportunities, and second, we were expressing our support for the territorial integrity of Georgia. In this way, we want to create a brand that has no boundaries. It really isn’t an easy job, but it depends on what you, as an entrepreneur, want. In our case, we knew why we were build-
ing our factory in the regions. It’s hard, but it’s worth it to achieve our goal.
WHAT IS THE BEST PART ABOUT OWNING YOUR OWN BUSINESS – AND WHAT IS THE WORST? The best part is that you create something unique, relying on yourself and your team, and you are learning and growing every day in many aspects. The worst part is that in business, it’s natural and logical to have some expectations, but sometimes it’s really hard when the reality you face is so drastically different from those expectations – but even this worst part is a great teacher if you use it wisely! Find Enkeni on Facebook for more information.
GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 2 - 4, 2018
An Iranian Expert on Iran’s Place & Aspirations in the Region EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE
hat interests does Iran have in Georgia? From political conundrum to economic opportunities, the sleeping (or as some would say, sedated) giant, rich in oil and gas, might spell major changes for the South Caucasus region - if only the regime would change its foreign policy, argues Jamestown Foundation’s leading expert on Iran, Alex Vatanka, who has been giving guest lectures on Iran and the Middle East at the Rondeli Foundation in Tbilisi. GEORGIA TODAY approached Mr. Vatanka for an exclusive interview.
RUSSIA OFTEN REFERS TO THE SOUTH CAUCASUS AS THE “NEAR ABROAD.” IS IT THE SAME WITH IRAN? DO THEY HAVE A “NEAR ABROAD” SENSATION WHEN IT COMES TO THE SOUTH CAUCASUS AND GEORGIA IN PARTICULAR? Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Iranians basically had two phases in terms of their approach to the northern regions that face them; initially, they were excited, and Iran was one of the first countries to recognize the independence of most of the post-soviet states. They did so for one reason: they wanted to become a key ally early on to these new emerging states. That lasted for about five or six years; now why did it end? In my view for one good reason: because by then the Russians were back in the game, they had returned to the position they’d had during Soviet times. And even before Putin’s ascendancy, Russia considered herself a global power and started describing parts of the world near to it that were formerly part of the Soviet Union as you said, as the “near abroad.” Now, if you're sitting in Tehran, what does that mean? That was probably most likely seen by the Iranians as a message of warning not just to Iran, to Turks and other states: “this is our near abroad, this is Russia's backyard you're not welcome here.” Some countries took that more seriously than others. The US stayed; it was not put off by that warning, but Iran had different calculations that they needed to go through because of its poor relations with the United States and because of Iran's overall isolation on the international stage. It has few friends and Russia is one of the principal partners, so the Iranians had to make a choice between upsetting the Russians by getting into places like Azerbaijan, Tajikistan and so forth in the former Soviet space, or take a step back. That's pretty much what they decided to do.
IN 2008, A BIG EXAMPLE OF THAT “STEPPING BACK” WAS SEEN IN THE STATEMENTS IRAN MADE Absolutely. And we’ve seen that in terms of Iran’s position on anything Russia does anywhere in the former soviet space. Most interesting is that the Iranians repeatedly throughout the 1990s and 2000s had nothing to say about what Russia was doing in Chechnya, and Iran is after all a country that claims to represent oppressed Muslims anywhere. But there was no defense for Chechnya in Tehran and, as I said before, for one simple reason that it was Russia's backyard and Iran needs Russia.
GOING BACK TO GEORGIA, HOW MUCH DOES IRAN STILL CONSIDER GEORGIA AND THE SOUTH CAUCASUS AS PART OF ITS HISTORICAL DOMAIN? DO THEY STILL LAMENT THE TURKMENCHAY AGREEMENT? No, I think it's pretty safe to say the Iranians do not believe the regime has claims to the South Caucasus and I think that while the Iranian people may lament what happened in the 19th century in terms of those two major military defeats at the hands of the Russians, it’s in the past and nobody is talking about taking those territories back.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF IRAN'S DREAM TO SELL ITS ENERGY RESOURCES ABROAD? HOW MIGHT THIS AFFECT GEORGIA AS A TRANSIT COUNTRY? Georgia could become a transit point for Iranian energy going north to Europe, which would obviously require some kind of adjustment for the Ukrainians, Russians and others. Or perhaps the engineers can come up with a pipeline option where
you can put something in the seabed of the Black Sea and get it to Bulgarian soil under the sea, but now I'm just speculating. The point is, Iran has a lot of oil and gas and yet it's struggling to get it out of the ground and exported because of its foreign policy; so I keep going back to the same theme: the foreign policy is at the heart of Iran's problems. If they reassess their foreign policy priorities, be it on Israel or on the United States, and put the country's interests first, put the well-being of the Iranians first and not pursue an ideological agenda that is basically one that has disturbed the West, if they do that then you’ll see Iran's options very quickly multiply. Iran could become the largest economic engine in this region for decades to come because there is so much money to be made there.
WHAT WOULD RUSSIA HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THAT? Russia right now benefits very nicely from Iran and the US not having relations; imagine if the Iranians were a normal state tomorrow and suddenly Russian gas had to compete with Iranian in Europe or elsewhere; so if I was Russia, I would be appreciating this weak and isolated Iran and would seek to make Iran more dependent on Russia and keep it that way. They are doubtless encouraging the Iranians not to change their position.
ONTO THE GEORGIA-IRAN “VISA GAMES.” IN 2010, WE SAW GEORGIA TAKING BACK THE VISA FREE REGIME AND THEN REINSTATING IT, WHILE ARMENIA, WHICH IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST RECIPIENTS PER CAPITA OF US FOREIGN AID, NEVER CHANGED ITS POSITION Russia is a bigger factor in Armenia’s calculations and maybe the Russians told the Armenians not to succumb to American pressure. Georgia obviously has a very different relationship with Russia, so maybe that was one factor. Another option is that Armenia simply couldn't do without the visa-free arrangement, while Georgia could. All countries make decisions based on their national interests, and it's no secret Georgia has chosen the United States as its key ally. And when the US knocks on the door and asks for certain things to be done, the Georgians pay attention.
THAT SCENARIO BE REALISTIC? Iran needs water, so do a lot of countries. How much water can Georgia provide? And how would they get it to the customer?
WOULD IRAN RISK MAKING A BIG INVESTMENT IN GEORGIA WITH RUSSIA LOOMING IN THE BACKGROUND? If Russia tells Iran that spending money buying Georgian water makes Georgia strong, therefore compromises my position so don't do it, I don't know what the answer to that would be. I’d hope it would be “sorry but we need the water and you need to figure out your problems with Georgia.” Russia has a lot of influence over certain issues when it comes to their own, but you should not mistake Iranian-Russian relations with a partnership, it's a marriage of convenience and is a highly contentious one. There is mistrust on both sides right now: the Iranians are extremely angry that because of American sanctions taking Iranian oil out of certain markets, the Russians are replacing Iranian oil in places like South Korea and Japan. The Iranians will likely think carefully about the option of buying water from Georgia rather than simply listening to what Russia tells them to do.
ANOTHER RECENT DEVELOPMENT IS IN THE NUMBER OF IRANIANS COMING TO GEORGIA FOR SHORT STAYS OR TO INVEST: IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS, 323,000 IRANIANS. THAT MAY SOON BE UP TO A MILLION, THE MINISTRY SAYS. WHAT’S DRIVING THEM HERE? One thing is obviously the beautiful landscape, social freedom they can enjoy, which they cannot in Iran; they go to restaurants, they listen to music, they enjoy drinks and other things they cannot do
freely in Iran. Another benefit of Georgia is it's a relatively inexpensive country to visit if you're coming from Iran; you spoke about property. Iran is extremely expensive when it comes to buying land and housing and Georgia is very inexpensive in relation to that.
AT THE RISK OF SOUNDING SLIGHTLY POPULISTIC, WHAT THE AVERAGE GEORGIAN WONDERS IS ARE THEY HERE TO STAY OR ARE THEY HERE TO LOOK FOR PATHS INTO THE EUROPEAN UNION? I don't know the answer to that. I'm sure some of them would want to stay, but I would guess that the vast majority are looking to Georgia as a stepping ground to Europe, America and other traditional destinations for Iranian immigrants. There's no tradition of Iranian immigration to Georgia- of the five million Iranians who live around the world, you'll find the numbers in Georgia very small; you’ve got hundreds of thousands in Canada, Australia, the EU and so forth.
CAN THE FACT THAT IRANIANS CAN DO IN GEORGIA WHAT THEY CANNOT AT HOME (GAMBLING ETC.) AFFECT RELATIONS BETWEEN THE TWO COUNTRIES? The Iranian regime does not care what Iranians do outside the country; they're not genuinely believers anymore themselves. They know that their people drink, gamble quietly and do all these “sinful” things. What they don't want them to do is to do it at home and question their authority; so they probably prefer them to come to Georgia and do it and then to go home and not do it and then go back to Georgia and do it again.
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RARELY TALKED ABOUT IS THE CHANCE THAT IRAN MIGHT FIND POTENTIAL IN PURCHASING GEORGIA’S WATER There's no doubt the Iranians need more water, as does the entire Middle East. Water will definitely be in demand across many parts of the world. I'm no engineer, maybe it requires a pipeline or other ways of getting the water to Iran, but I don't know what the reaction in Georgia would be to such an idea because water is such a sensitive topic: it quickly touches on the senses of nationalism, it's considered something almost sacred, and there's the risk of angering certain communities in Georgia.
ON THE OTHER HAND, GEORGIANS MIGHT BE DELIGHTED TO HAVE THEIR OWN SUBSTITUTE FOR AZERBAIJAN OIL; COULD GEORGIA'S WATER BECOME GEORGIA’S OIL WHEN IT COMES TO IRAN? WOULD
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Shedding New Light on the First Republic: Handover of the Chkhenkeli Archives to TSU BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES
n 28 September, the archives of Akaki Chkhenkeli, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the First Democratic Republic of Georgia (1918-1921) were gifted to the Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University (TSU). The archive includes thousands of documents, personal letters, diplomatic letters, and biographical information on Georgian public figures, including Noe Jordania, head of the government of the First Democratic Republic of Georgia. In the course of this year, there have been many important occasions to remember and mark the 100th anniversary of the establishment of First Democratic Republic of Georgia, including at the Tbilisi State University, which was founded in 1918. The handing over of the Chkhenkeli archive was Switzerland’s unique contribution to the anniversary year, made possible by the Swiss Embassy in Georgia. The Ambassador of Switzerland in Georgia, Lukas Beglinger, spoke about the Swiss contribution. “It was not widely known that substantial archives of the Chkhenkeli family were being kept in Switzerland, due to Kita Chkhenkeli’s living in Zurich,” he said. Kita Chkhenkeli, brother of Akaki, established a Georgian faculty at the Zurich University, established publishing house Amirani, in Zurich, was the creator of the most comprehensive GeorgianGerman Dictionary, and authored the book ‘Introduction to the Georgian Language.’ The Zurich University granted him the degree Honoris Cauza (Honorable Doctor of Philosophy). “Thanks to the initiative of distinguished Swiss citizens Thomas Häusermann and Marianna Krayer, who deserve to be qualified as true friends of Georgia, these archives can today be handed over to TSU,” Beglinger noted. “Before Akaki died, he sent his archive to his brother Kita, realizing that it would be safer in Switzerland,” Thomas Häusermann, one of the current owners of the archive, told us. “When he died, he left it to Leah Flury, one of his students and the one who headed the Georgian faculty after
Kita’s passing. This was in Communist times and Leah kept the documents hidden because she realized the value to Georgian history.” In order for the information not to be lost, Häusermann, Thomas Krayer and Marianna Krayer, to whom Flury entrusted the archives, and another co-owner Miho Svimonishvili made a copy- one of which is now at TSU, the other in Switzerland. They also digitalized the archive and gifted it to the university. The Georgian faculty established by Kita Chkhenkeli at Zurich University was eventually abolished, meaning that Georgian could be taught only in Bern University. Now that university is about to close its own Georgian faculty due to a lack of finances. In his speech, Häusermann made a plea to the Georgian side not to let this happen. “My request for the Georgian government and TSU is to do what you can to ensure that what Chkhenkeli started is not forgotten and for his work
to be continued . There may not be enough moneyit is an expensive process -but it must be done. I also ask that a placard be placed on the house in which Kita Chkhenkeli lived, as the current tenants do not know about him. Perhaps a letter could be written to the Municipality requesting this…” The archives are expected to offer new insights into Georgia’s troubled history a hundred years ago. Their being in Georgia also makes them accessible to researchers here. Rector of the Tbilisi State University, Giorgi Sharvashidze, spoke of the importance of the archive for the new generation and thanked the Swiss for making such a vital addition to the TSU archive for research purposes. “This is a unique gift for our youth,” he said. “I’m confident there will be a lot of historical facts revealed for the future generations, facts that show how people existed who were unceasing in their fighting the [Russian] occupation and promoting
the idea of Georgia’s freedom.” “I see numerous youth in this library making use of the research materials,” said Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure, Maia Tskitishvili. “This archive is for the interest of the new generation, not only TSU students but all who have an interest in rediscovering their nation’s history. This material gives us the chance to claim back our history. 100 years ago, we were already a modern democratic country and these archives contribute to showcasing that. I congratulate TSU on the receipt of such valuable material and look forward to the discoveries and publications that will no doubt result from this archive being returned to Georgia.” It was a sentiment echoed by Ambassador Beglinger: “I have no doubt that in today’s world of widespread distorted historical narratives and misrepresent ations, Georgia stands to gain from such a scientific approach to its own history.”
Borjomi Gorge Forest Restoration BY SHAWN WAYNE
n the Borjomi gorge, the clean-up work of the territories affected by fires is coming to an end, sad the National Forestry Agency. The National Forestry Agency reported that the cleaning work is almost complete: the soil has been dug over and fences rebuilt. In early October, the sowing of seeds is planned. At the first stage, in 2018-2019, 250 hectares of land will be restored. During the autumn season, forest restoration will be conducted on 144 hectares of land with about 400 thousand seedlings of coniferous species to be planted. The local population will be employed in the works under the supervision of the foresters. The main goal of the project is the restoration of the original forest ecosystem. That is why local and standard seedlings will be planted. The territory affected by the fire is 943 hectares. Considering that forest restoration is a long, specific and complex process, the project will be implemented strictly, under the supervision of industry experts. A series of fires swept Georgia in the summer of 2017. The largest was a fire in the village of Daba, Borjomi Gorge, which was extinguished only after six days by local and international firecrews and equipment. The situation was complicated by lack of access to the mountainous terrain, wind and the dry August weather.
GEORGIA TODAY OCTOBER 2 - 4, 2018
30 Years of Bristol-Tbilisi Cultural, Business & Tourism Ties Celebrated in the UK BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES
n September 26-28, a joint delegation of the Embassy of Georgia to the UK and Tbilisi City Hall paid a visit to Bristol, UK, to take part in bilateral meetings and events in the frames of the 30th Anniversary of the Bristol-Tbilisi Twinning celebrations. The main aim of the visit was to further strengthen existing cooperation between the cities in culture, business, tourism, education and innovation and share new experience and best practices in these spheres. The program was organized by Derek Pickup, Georgia’s Honorary Consul in South West England and Chair of the Bristol Tbilisi Association, and Alix Hughes, Bristol Council representative. Ambassador Tamar Beruchashvili and Senior Counselor of the Embassy Neli Shiolashvili along with the Deputy Mayor of Tbilisi, Sopio Khuntsaria, the Head
of Night Economy Development Project Sergi Gvarjaladze, Head of the Department of Economic Development Andria Basilaia and representative of the International Relations Department Nino Beglarishvili participated in the visit. On September 26, the Georgian delegation was greeted by Jane Oakland and the Guild of Guardians at Mansion House, the official residence of the Lord Mayer of Bristol. Ambassador Beruchashvili and Deputy Mayor Khuntsaria addressed the audience, followed by Georgian wine testing which was presented by Danilo Di Salvo, co-founder of the Georgian wine company ‘Gvino’. A presentation on Georgia was given by Derek Pickup, Georgia’s Honorary Consul. The Georgian Delegation held intensive three-day meetings with the heads of the following creative industry organizations: 'Destination Bristol' (a Bristol tourism and recreation management company), 'Station/Young Men’s Christian Association' (an organization promoting creative activities among youth),
'Watershed' (a media center), the British Chamber of Commerce, Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, the Bristol
museum 'M Shed', the art center 'Spike Island', the museum 'SS Great Britain Ship', the UK's hub for puppetry and
animation 'Puppet Place', Bristol Central Library and the Arts Society South West Area. In the same period, on 26-30 September, the International Short Film and Animation Festival (‘Encounters Film Festival’) took place in Bristol, where Georgia participated for the first time with 11 short films and animations, presented by the joint delegation of young Georgian directors and the Georgian National Film Center. Georgia held the status of Honorary Guest at this year’s Festival and its films were met with high regard and appreciation from the audience. The Director of the Festival welcomed the Georgian delegation at a special reception at Watershed where exquisite nature of Georgian films was highlighted. The series of events celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Bristol-Tbilisi Twinning will be continued with a Business Conference to be hosted by Tbilisi City Hall and TBC Bank in Tbilisi on 12 October.
Get Caught Reading-Sakartvelo Awards Eager Readers
BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES
n Saturday 22 September, a ceremony was held in the National Library of Georgia in Tbilisi to award young readers who had participated in the Summer 2018 Get Caught Reading-Sakartvelo campaign. The campaign is meant to encourage and popularize reading and to support the new generation in literacy. Maya Sulava and Carolyn Rice are the
co-founders of Get Caught ReadingSakartvelo. Carolyn has lived in Georgia for 10 years working as an English teacher, while Maya is the director of the Integrated School of English Language. To participate in the campaign, children had to read an English book relevant to their age/level and make a short video describing the book, take a photo of themselves reading in an interesting place, take a photo of their favorite quote from a book, and send all materials to be uploaded onto the campaign’s facebook page. 45 pupils participated, the majority of
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whom came from Adjara, followed by Samtskhe-Javakheti and Tbilisi, then other regions of Georgia. The best were selected by an international jury made up of Georgian and American teachers and librarians, who followed strict criteria in their selection, seeing them award points based on performance and presentation. The points were then added up to reveal first- and second-place winners in each age category. The winners were: 6-8 years: 1st place Alina Shainidze, 2nd place Mariam Tsetskhladze. 9-12 years: 1st place Giorgi Turmanidze,
Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Zaza Jgarkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Dimitri Dolaberidze, Maka Lomadze, Joseph Larsen, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze, Nino Gugunishvili, Thea Morrison Photographer: Irakli Dolidze
2nd place Mariam Beridze. 13-15 years: 1st place Keti Tsintsadze, 2nd place Guga Mamiseishvili / Tornike Abashidze. 16-18 years: 1st place Nini Kukhalashvili, 2nd place Giorgi Muzashvili. “We were overwhelmed with the number of entrants this year and want to congratulate everyone who took part,” said Carolyn Rice. “We hope to run a second campaign after the New Year, ideally with Georgian books and with the support of Georgian publishers. Keep an eye on our facebook page for more details.” “I’m really happy to be a part of this project,” said Alexandre Lortkipanidze, well-known presenter of TV show ‘Wignebis Taro’ (Bookshelf), which actively encourages children to read and for school teams from around the country to compete. “The children are great! The fact that they read and made an effort to review those books this summer sets them as examples to their generation. I always emphasize the importance of reading to expand knowledge,
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awareness of the world and imagination. I’ll be happy to support the campaign in future.” An issue that was raised by the teachers present, including Maia Shainidze, teacher and owner of New English School Meskheti, was that there are so few English books adapted for a variety of ages beyond the classics like Tom Sawyer and Jane Eyre. “It is difficult to find books that children can and want to read; good books that they can understand. It would be nice for the government and publishers to take note and broaden the range available to young Georgians.” Get Caught Reading is a global campaign to promote the fun of reading books for all ages. First launched in the US in 1999 by the Association of American Publishers and now managed there by Every Child a Reader with support from the Lois Lenski Covey Foundation, Get Caught Reading encourages youth to pick up a book and talk about it… again and again. The campaign also aims to promote reading in schools and provides support to teachers and librarians.
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