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Issue no: 1188/199

• SEPTEMBER 24 - 26, 2019



In this week’s issue... Weekly Entrepreneurial News @entrepreneur.ge NEWS PAGE 2

German Bank Gives 8 mln Euros for Georgian Energy Reforms NEWS PAGE 3

August 2019 Monthly Tourism Update



Georgian Parliament Adopts Code of Child Rights

ON POPULARITY Is the country really heading in the wrong direction? We spoke to Laura Thornton to find out


Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei's Interview with The Economist, Part 3


Building a Climate-Resilient Country Museum of Fine Arts & Art BUSINESS PAGE 7


House Host Renowned Be Museumer Training



eglar the hippopotamus is a symbol of the devastating flash flood that hit Georgia’s capital city in June 2015. The flooding killed 22 people, destroyed the Tbilisi Zoo, leaving 300 animals dead, and caused $24.3 million in direct physical damage. But somehow, Beglar survived. Found wandering the wrecked streets of the city, he was rescued and brought back to safety. Seeing him as a symbol of survival, Georgians lavished Beglar with love, building a brand-new home for him in the reconstructed zoo, which was relocated to higher ground. He now has his own Facebook page and will soon have a sculpture erected in his honor in downtown Tbilisi. But Beglar’s story was a lonely ray of hope in an otherwise catastrophic situation. The devastation caused by the 2015 floods was a wake-up call for Geor-

HUAWEI Presents Most Powerful & Aesthetic Mate 30 Series Image source: Leli Blagonravova/UNDP

gia’s authorities. They recognized that the unprecedented rains that caused the flooding were merely a first taste of the havoc that climate change is set to wreak. Spurred into action by the disaster, they began a quest for solutions to protect people and property from the impact of climate-driven disasters. Four years later, with support from the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Government of Switzerland, Georgia has kicked off a $70 million program that aims at protecting the entire country from any recurrence of the Tbilisi disaster. This pioneering initiative has the scope and ambition to serve as a model of adaptation and resilience for other countries that face similar climatedriven challenges.

THE CHALLENGE Georgia’s geography is defined by high mountains and roaring rivers. The high peaks are what visitors notice first, and mountain adventures – skiing, hiking, camping, paragliding – are what drives much of Georgia’s robust and growing tourism revenues. Rivers and mountain torrents, meanwhile, provide a seemingly unlimited source of energy in the form of hydropower. Continued on page 3

BUSINESS PAGE 11 Prepared for Georgia Today Business by

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SEPTEMBER 24 - 26, 2019

Three Centuries of Italian Painting: Treasures of Trieste’s National Gallery of Ancient Art @entrepreneur.ge Gamarjoba! I’m the Editor-in-Chief of the Georgian edition of Entrepreneur magazine and I’m here to share the top weekly Entrepreneurial news with you: Piel Naturanls, a brand producing self-care goods which launched three years ago with cocoa butter, currently boasts nearly 60 different products and is soon to be exported to Dubai. Tamar Lomadze, founder, says all products are handmade at a laboratory in Tbilisi using a special formula and are natural. There is growing demand for the products, which can now be found in their own shop and in several other sales locations. The plans for the near future include assimilation to international markets. DR.GOODS is to offer sterile and nonsterile products for medical services. The enterprise will produce various goods for the medical sector, including sets of bedclothes, covers, sheets as well as surgical scrubs, all Made in Georgia. This is the first Georgian enterprise to operate in this field. DR.GOODS is yet another winning project of Startup Georgia. At the first stage it will employ 15 people, gradually increasing that number. Investment in the latest project amounts to 100,000 GEL. PowerPhage is a veterinary product that substitutes antibiotics in the meat industry, particularly in poultryfarming and stockbreeding. It is completely safe, using a natural alternative – phages, produced by BioChimPharm and its team. The company's portfolio boasts a number of well-known medications, including Phagio, which is actively used to beat infections that are resistant to antibiotics. Rati Gholijashvili, Head of the Innovation and Business Development Department at BioChimPharm, says PowerPhage is a revolutionary product which is set to go global and be commercialized. Follow the Entrepreneur Georgia Instagram page to get the latest updates from Georgian Entrepreneurs. For doing business with Georgian Entrepreneurs, write us on business@entrepreneur.ge



rom September 27 to November 20, the Georgian capital is to host an exposition of the incredible works kept at Trieste’s National Gallery of Ancient Art, which is called ‘Color from Tintoretto to Canaletto’. “A journey in time, space, as well as different styles of visual art await visitors,” states Antonio Bartoli, Ambassador of Italy to Georgia. “This attractive exposition integrates three centuries of Italian painting from the late Renaissance to the end of the 18th century.” The exhibition at the Georgian National Gallery brings together 55 works of Tintoretto, Guercino, Bernardo Strozzi, Antonio Canaletto, Gian Lorenzo Bernini and other Italian painters. Guests will have an opportunity to discover the major painting schools of Northern Italy of that epoch, from Bologna (Giuseppe Crespi) to Genoa (Giovanni Battista Paggi, Gioacchino Assereto), from Lombardy (Pier Francesco Mazzucchelli and Pierfrancesco Cittadini) to Veneto (Bonifacio de' Pitati, Carlo Caliari, Francesco Maffei and Nicolò Grassi). The exhibition introduces the broad panorama of Italian styles and genres of those times, including portraits, landscapes and nature-morte. Along with the historic, allegorical-religious and mythological themes, scenes reflecting the lifestyle and four sketches of Venice by Antonio Canaletto will also be displayed. The exhibition ‘Color from Tintoretto to Canaletto’ represents part of the ‘Vivere ALL’italiana’ program. Expositions launched in Georgia within the scope of the program have been visited by more than 150,000 individuals. The event is an outcome of the close cooperation of

the institutions of the two countries. In Italy, these institutions are: the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy and the Embassy of Italy in Tbilisi, and from Georgia the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of Georgia and Georgian National Museum. The exhibition in

Georgia is launched along with the Italian company Glocal Project Consulting. For detailed information about the exhibition, please visit the Embassy website: https://ambtbilisi.esteri.it/ambasciata_tbilisi/ ka/ambasciata/news/dall_ambasciata/2019/09/tre-secoli-di-pittura-italiana.html



Building a Climate-Resilient Country

Continued from page 1 But these same spectacular mountains and powerful rivers are the source of high and rising risk to the population. River flooding, flash floods, rockslides, landslides and mudslides are already the chief source of natural disaster in Georgia, and the costs over the past two decades have been staggering: more than 152 lives lost and economic losses totalling more than $1.2 billion. In a country where 40% of the population depends on farm income, annual agricultural losses from flooding run to $68 million. Extreme flood events cost $190 million per year. The risks are growing as the extreme weather events that are a consequence of climate change, such as the torrential rains that caused the Tbilisi floods in 2015, hit the country with increasing frequency and severity. Scientists now estimate that climate-driven disasters could cost Georgia as much as $12 billion over the next ten years. That’s 80% of current annual GDP.

THE SOLUTION Fortunately, Georgia is not sitting idle in the face of these challenges. Thanks to a program launched in 2019, Georgia is enacting the policies and undertaking the investments needed to adapt to climate change and protect the entire country from climatedriven disasters. The initiative is a joint venture between the government and UNDP, with the total $70 million in funding coming from the government itself ($38 million); the Green Climate Fund ($27 million); and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation ($5 million). The program aims to replace the reactive approach traditional in Georgia, in which the state pays for compensation and reconstruction after each successive disaster, to one fully grounded in PREVENTION. Rejecting the fatalistic conviction that disasters are inevitable because “you can’t change the weather,” it assumes that, with proper preparation and investment, Georgia can prevent even the most

extreme weather events from turning into disasters. This takes money, of course, but as a rule each dollar invested in prevention saves seven dollars in recovery costs. The program is comprehensive, with a nationwide scope. Set to last seven years, it covers all 11 of the country’s major river basins and will provide direct protection to 1.7 million people, or 46% of the population. Its aim is to reduce climate-driven losses by 90%. Its key elements include: * Conducting satellite-based hazard and risk mapping of all the country’s major river basins to locate and characterize the main threats to people and property; * Upgrading hydrometeorological observation networks to monitor weather conditions and understand, in real time, when and where water levels are changing; * Creating early warning systems to ensure that affected populations are alerted in time to take action, and that people at risk know what actions to take; * Working with national institutions and local communities to improve zoning and building permit systems, to prevent construction in high-risk areas; and * Wherever threats are imminent, building protective barriers or adopting other nature-based measures to prevent flooding, such as reforestation to reinforce river banks. The program builds on pioneering work already done along the Rioni River, the country’s biggest and most flood-prone water body, in 2012-2017. This $5 million pilot program, financed by the Adaptation Fund and implemented by the UNDP, has created safer conditions for more than 200,000 residents and provided “proof of concept” for the new, much larger program.

A MODEL FOR OTHERS Many other countries face similar climate-driven hazards yet remain chained to the reactive approach that Georgia is now working to put behind it. The new program will provide a tested and ready model that they can replicate in preventing climate-driven disasters. Moreover, at a time when countries are seeking ways to heed the UN Secretary-General’s admonition that “beautiful speeches are not enough” and that bold actions are vital, Georgia is providing a timely example of how to expand climate resilience at a national level. Like many of its neighbors, Georgia has only a small role to play in climate mitigation, since the collapse of Soviet-legacy industries in the 1990s already put an abrupt end to most of the country’s pollution-generating factories. Radical reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are just not possible. However, where the country is making its mark is in climate adaptation – an equally pressing need for the world as global temperatures continue their ominous rise. What’s more, by helping local residents engage directly in reducing the risks they face, Georgia is building a culture of resilience that is a core value of democracy and self-government. So even a story as tragic as the Tbilisi floods can have a happy end, and not just for Beglar the hippo.

Winners of Ad Black Sea 2019 Revealed


he Ad Black Sea international advertising festival 2019, which has now finished, awarded the best Georgian agency, design studio and most creative agency. Participants of this year’s edition of the festival came from than 20 countries across the world. The Ad Black Sea Festival celebrated its 5th anniversary this year. The aim of Ad Black Sea 2019 was to develop the creative industry in Georgia and promote it internationally.

Winners were revealed in the following categories: The Best Advertising Agency of the Festival Voskhod; The Best Georgian Agency - Windfor's; The Best Agency Network - BBDO Group; The Best Independent Agency - Voskhod. According to the ACAG rating, Windfor's was named the Best Design Studio of the Year, while Redbery was named Best Creative Agency of the Year.





SEPTEMBER 24 - 26, 2019

August 2019 Monthly Tourism Update

Graph 1: In the graph, average prices for standard double rooms in 3 and 4-star hotels and guesthouses are given by region. 5-star hotel prices are provided below


n Georgia, the average cost of a room1 in a 3-star hotel was 151 GEL per night in August 2019, while the average cost of a room in a 4-star hotel in Georgia was 230 GEL per night and the average cost of a room in a guesthouse2 was 75 GEL per night. The average cost of a room in a 5-star hotel in Georgia in August 2019 was 488 GEL per night. In Tbilisi, the average price was 592 GEL, followed by Ajara – 461 GEL, Kakheti – 398 GEL and Samstkhe-Javakheti – 390 GEL.

Table 1: Percentage change of prices in August 2019 over July 2019 and over August 2018

According to Airbnb, in August 2019, the average price of apartments per night in the capitals of Black Sea countries are the following: Kiev $172, Moscow - $103, Bucharest - $65, Sofia - $43, Tbilisi - $41, Ankara - $30.

HOTEL PRICE INDEX In August 2019, in Georgia the hotel price index3 increased by 3.4% compared to July 2019. The 3-star, 4-star and 5-star hotel price index increased by 2.0%, while for guesthouses, the price index

Graph2: Number of Visits by International Travelers

increased by 4.6%. In August 2019, compared to August 2018, hotel prices in Georgia decreased by 2.4%. The prices of 3*, 4*, 5* hotels decreased by 5.3%, while the prices of guesthouses increased by 3.1%.

MOST VISITED REGIONS BY INTERNATIONAL TRAVELERS In the first half of 2019, the majority of visits by international travelers were made to Tbilisi, in total - 1.7 million visits. Tbilisi was followed by Ajara region - 0.7 million visits, Kvemo Kartli

region - 0.55 million visits and Mtskheta-Mtianeti region - 0.54 million visits. In the first half of 2019, the least visits were made to Guria, Shida Kartli, Racha, Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti regions; in total in those regions 1.5 million visits were made. Compared to the first half of 2018, in the first half of 2019, visits made by international travelers increased the most in Tbilisi, by 16.1%, followed by Ajara and Kvemo Kartli, respectively by 6.2% and 4.9%. Visits decreased the most in SamtskheJavakheti and Kakheti4.

1 The results are based on the surveying of standard double hotel room prices of 3, 4, 5-star hotels and guesthouses in 10 regions of Georgia. Hotels were chosen arbitrarily according to random sampling principle. The study contains 71% (312) of all 3, 4 and 5-star hotels and 25% (456 guesthouses) of all guesthouses registered on www.booking.com The 3, 4 and 5-star hotel price data was collected by contacting hotels individually, while the prices of guesthouses were taken from booking.com. The average prices are arithmetic mean of standard double hotel room prices. 2 Guesthouse: a type of accommodation that is characterized by having a small number of rooms and services are usually offered by the resident family. 3 The calculation of the hotel price index is based on the recommendations given by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The elementary aggregate price index is calculated by Jevons index (Consumer Price Index Manual-Theory and Practice (2004), Practical Guide to Producing Consumer Price Indices (2009)). 4 Source: Geostat




Georgian Parliament Adopts Code of Child Rights BY THEA MORRISON


he Parliament of Georgia adopted a Draft Code on the Rights of the Child by 85 votes with the third reading on Friday, which reinforces the state system and ensures the welfare and protection of every child in the country. The draft was developed by the Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee of Parliament with the technical support of UNICEF Georgia. Parliament started development of the Code in 2017 in cooperation with local and international NGOs, state agencies, the Public Defender, and legal and independent experts. The Code will enter into force on June 1, 2020. Meanwhile, various state agencies have been assigned to develop the legal regulations, drafts and technical standards. By November 1, 2019 Parliament will have developed and endorsed an implementation action plan to specify regulation development dates and the responsibilities of various ministries and agencies. Parliament’s Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee has been assigned the job of overseeing the enforcement of the plan. The novelty in the Code is that children under 18 will enjoy free legal aid, and, in addition, all state agencies have been imposed with the obligation to meet children with a friendly and adapted environment and render services via specialized public workers. The Code was initiated by the ruling Georgian Dream party and reads that the protection and support system set out in the Code will facilitate development of a child's individuality, public

interest and values, as well as focus on work as the only morally justifiable means of achieving material well-being, and on the family as a fundamental value in society. It also seeks to develop the desire for a healthy lifestyle in children. The authors of the drafts said that the adoption of the Code creates a systemic vision of the state, the legal basis for the well-being of children. However, in addition to creating a substantive legal basis, it is necessary to have specific enforcement mechanisms that will ensure the full implementation of the Code. Moreover, the Code envisages separation of the child from the family in an extreme case and only on the basis of a judge’s order. The State also undertakes responsibility for ensuring that socially vulnerable families receive an allowance and that social workers and psychologists study the mental and social state of parents and assist them to be engaged in the educational programs that allow them to be employed and support their own families. The State will also provide alternative care to those who need support after transition to adulthood and there will be a system for prevention of and response to child abuse and bullying via a hotline and special coordinator. The Code further envisages strengthening Parliament’s oversight of child rights, including the creation of a special council focused on children’s welfare. Expected results of the Code are: • That, in the long run, poverty, crime, violence, drug / alcohol / addiction will be reduced. • Strengthening of families and promotion of raising children within their familial environment. • Mechanisms for social support, proper

Image source: UNICEF

living conditions and development of the child will be strengthened. • A child support system will be developed to promote full integration of children, including children with disabilities, into the community. • A system of protection against violence, obscenity and other harmful content coming from the internet and mass media will be established. • Provision of child welfare will be systematically carried out at the local

government level. UNICEF welcomed the adoption of the Code, saying it is a groundbreaking achievement for Georgia. “The Code is an umbrella document, a special law which unites all main principles that are crucial for a child’s wellbeing. It will guide all state agencies, local governments, other administrative bodies, the common courts, public and private organizations and individuals when working with and making deci-

Life Fest 2019

Monk Andrew’s Charity Foundation was established nine years ago by the parents of Monk Andrew, who died of cancer at the age of 17. Our Foundation, a one-of-a-kind in the Caucasus, cares for children with cancer and their parents; providing them with everything connected with their treatment, rehabilitation and improvement of their quality of life. The Foundation has helped over 600 children and their families. Today, we have around 50 young patients with cancer in our care. We receive children regardless of their nationality, race or religious beliefs. The Foundation operates only on private contributions and has no permanent source of income. Last year, we launched one of the largest construction projects in Georgia - Rehabilitation Center “Happy House”. September is global Child Cancer Awareness month and the foundation is organizing the annual “Life Fest”. We plan and implement numerous projects, actions and events to raise funds. Many companies actively help us to achieve the goal of supporting more child patients. Be a part of this! Make our children happy! Add one Brick to “HAPPY HOUSE”!

Kindness is Endless! www.monkandrew.ge Lifefest@mafgeorgia.ge

sions about children,” UNICEF stated. It also noted that the Code creates greater guarantees to promote and ensure the participation of children in the decision making on all matters that concern them. “All the existing laws and policies will have to come into compliance with this document and relevant implementation mechanisms will have to be created and improved,” the statement of the organization reads.




SEPTEMBER 24 - 26, 2019

Veon Georgia CEO on company success and challenges weakly if the team you work with is not good enough or not sufficiently motivated. The dedication of the Veon Georgia team affected our results in two key aspects: strategy and execution, which includes deployed technologies. A couple of years back, we were pioneers in 4G technology, bringing it to Georgian mobile internet users. Ever since, we have been working on making this technology available for more and more people – which is still one of our key objectives. In other words: our objective is to keep people connected and deliver them value they can afford, while constantly working on improving our customers’ experience. We are all extremely happy it’s so well received by our customers, but at same time, we have a lot to improve – our success is meaningful mainly as a motivation to reach higher and perform better in delivering value to our customers.



elecommunication is a demanding and ever-changing industry, seeing the global players needing to rapidly assimilate to the changes witnessed in the modern world and offer the latest trends and high quality services to stay ahead of the game. VEON is a global company which has been successfully operating in Georgia for numerous years already. The Georgian National Communication Commission released data showing that in 2019, VEON Georgia made important steps forwards. Knowing this, GEORGIA TODAY went to talk to Andrzej Malinowski, CEO of VEON Georgia (brand Beeline), to gauge

the success of the company and find about more about the challenges of the industry.

ACCORDING TO THE GNCC DATA, VEON GEORGIA HAS PROVEN VERY SUCCESSFUL IN 2019 IN THE GROWTH OF MOBILE INTERNET USERS, WITH Y-O-Y GROWTH OF 21%, AS WELL AS FINANCIAL GAIN WITH RETAIL REVENUE UP 2.6% Y-O-Y. TELL US MORE ABOUT IT. I appreciate you noticing our achievements; indeed, we are happy with the 2019 results so far. The most obvious answer, yet most truthful one, is that Veon Georgia is a team of hard working, creative, dedicated people. I always underline the human aspect of our success, because you can have all the technology money can buy and perform very

INTERNET IS OF CRUCIAL IMPORTANCE TODAY. WHAT ARE THE STRATEGIES AND APPROACHES APPLIED BY VEON GEORGIA TO OFFER THE LATEST TRENDS AND BEST SERVICES TO CLIENTELE? I could not agree more. Internet access is of key importance for modern societies; we see it across Veon Group footprint. As a service company, we can only be successful when we listen to our customers and transfer their expectations to our product strategies. We believe that internet access is about the percentage of population we cover with our network – which in case of our 4G amounts to 90%, but make no mistake: you can cover the whole country with the latest technology and make access to it so expensive you will deliver almost no value to customers. Keeping the right balance between those two aspects is what Veon Georgia team has been doing from the start. I am not ready to discuss details about new products – I hope reasons for that are clear, but I would gladly

use this opportunity to ensure our customers again: we do hear your voice, I do get the message: we will do our absolute best to provide you ultimate experience with our mobile internet.

TELL US ABOUT THE MAJOR CHALLENGES YOU HAVE FACED ON THE GEORGIAN MARKET SO FAR. Thank you for this question. I am privileged to have worked in Georgia for 2.5 years, the only way I refer to this amazing country is “my home away from home” and I do mean it like that. Georgia is a free market economy country and we work in a regulated environment with a highly professional body – the GNCC taking care of protecting the rights of mobile networks users. I greatly appreciate the GNCC impact on how the business of mobile works in Georgia. Overall, state institutions have been doing a great job not interfering with businesses and keeping the driving force of the market economy, competition, within a legal framework, where conditions are equal to all players. The biggest challenge is one that might influence the future growth of many industries: the availability of skilled human resources. Education for the future is a matter many countries struggle with – especially countries of the former Soviet block (including my native Poland). If you are behind developed countries, you have to try much harder to grow the next generation, foster their interest in technology so they can eventually take over. We do it internally, granting all our employees access to free online learning platform CrossKnowledge and encouraging all team members to use it – with great success. But employers, entrepreneurs, can only play a supporting role here. Georgians are hardworking and talented, which is an amazing foundation for growth and development. I believe business should express its support to all initiatives aimed at improving the situ-

ation – I will be happy to join any initiative of that kind.

YOU LAUNCHED THE MEDALLIA PLATFORM. HOW DO YOU USE IT AND HOW HELPFUL HAS IT PROVEN FOR OBTAINING INFORMATION ABOUT CUSTOMERS’ REQUIREMENTS AND AMELIORATION OF SERVICES? This state-of-the-art tool basically gives my colleagues and I direct access to structured data about customer experience. It’s not a magic wand, solving the problems but it’s a sophisticated tool that provides information gathered from every interaction our customers have with us: in person, on the phone – with our call center team or bots, online and offline. The objective is to understand what, in all aspects, we can do to make our customers’ lives easier and their experiences with us more pleasant. Obviously, of any platform even the most sophisticated one will not do this for us. It takes a team of specialists dealing with the most important aspect of our activity, customer experience, to transfer data into actionable guidelines and then implement them. Some say CEO stands for Chief Experience Officer – and that is how I also see my role. Medallia data analysis is an important part of my job, so is acknowledging those of our team going the extra mile to improve customer experience, and to foster a customer centric culture within the company.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR PLANS. WHAT ARE THE NOVELTIES VEON GEORGIA CLIENTELE SHOULD EXPECT IN THE FUTURE? In most simple terms, we plan to continue proving we are worth the trust of 1.3 million of our customers, we plan to continue appreciating them buying our services and being with us – somebody might say it’s nothing new, but for us at Veon Georgia this is what matters most.

Commerce & Industry Chamber President: Softening of Banking Regulations Is Necessary BY THEA MORRISON


iorgi Pertaia, Head of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, stressed that the tight banking regulations need to be softened for better functioning of businesses. He negatively assessed the banking regulations of the National Bank of Georgia (NBG), which, according to him, have disrupted the Georgian economy. “It is a fact that banking regulations have reduced the economy. The banking regulations need to be softened. I understand why the regulator tightened them but the current situation needs to be changed,” he told BM.ge. Pertaia added that he does not support restoring the old banking regulations but believes the economy will not be able to grow in such conditions. He also mentioned the situation of the microfinance organizations, which ended the first half of the year with a GEL 80 ($26.88) million-loss due to the stricter regulations. He also believes that the current regulations take Georgia to an absolutely different investment map and if there are no changes made to the regulations, he says multiple barriers will make investing in Georgia less attractive to investors. He added that Georgia's investment

environment will resemble Europe's and there will be nothing different or new to offer investors in Georgia. “An attractive investment environment is that we need to be simple, agile, and business-oriented. We need to be better developed than the EU countries, otherwise no one will invest in Georgia. The risks are great, and we have problems with our territories. There are many other factors too. Why would an investor put money into Georgia, if, for example, Spain has the same regulations?” he said. Pertaia stressed that it is important that the government take steps that are 100% pro-business. He said that when certain regulations happen for businesses, it is necessary for the government to carry out specific reforms in parallel which produce results in a short timeframe. He also added that the recent regulations were too early for businesses, leading to extra costs, uncertainty and the need to hire new employees. “When such regulations are introduced, it is very important for the government to pursue a pro-business policy, with specific reforms, with concrete results that will be seen today, not three or four years in the future, because then it will be difficult to balance,” he noted. The introduction of a responsible lending model changed the rules for the banking, microfinance and business sec-

Image source: commersant.ge

tors. The changes apply to all kinds of microfinance organizations and banks, envisaging lending only after studying and assessing the solvency of the client, in order to eliminate future risks. The tightening of Georgian banking regulations took effect on January 1, 2019, meaning that people will not get loans from banks if there are no solid guarantees that they will be able to pay it back on time. They read that it is unacceptable that the financial institution issue a loan

without a detailed analysis of the revenue, expenses and liabilities of the borrower in order to assess if the borrower is capable of paying back the debt. This has resulted in reduction of clients for the banking, construction and retail sectors. Also, as a result of the changes, a 50% interest rate ceiling has been set, the obligation to certify the income of a physical person has been determined, and the income categories that all credit institutions are obliged to meet have

been defined. A common ceiling has been set for different types of loans. For example, the maximum mortgage term is 15 years, the transport loan term is 6 years, the real estate loan term is 10 years, and the maximum term of any other type of loan is four years. Business Ombudsman of Georgia Irakli Lekvinadze has also stressed many times that softening the regulations is necessary to prevent too strong an impact on the business sector.



Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei's Interview with The Economist, Part 3



ne of the other pioneers of China's technology sector, Ma Yun of Alibaba, retired on September 10. When he announced this last year, he was the great exception in handing over the reign. Most other Chinese bosses don't do this until too late, to the detriment to their companies. We asked Mr Ren what he thought the costs and benefits would be to his own retirement and whether it could be an expedient to have an earlier one, given the current political climate that Huawei finds itself in? “I will retire when my thinking slows down. Currently, I still have many creative ideas, so I will continue working for some time,” he told us.

ONE IDEA YOU SPOKE ABOUT WAS LICENSING YOUR 5G TECHNOLOGY. WHAT WOULD BE THE BENEFITS OF THAT? SO YOU CAN CONCENTRATE ON 6G? Licensing 5G to others does not mean that Huawei would stop working on 5G itself. We want the speed of technological development in the West to increase, so we are looking at the licensing of all our 5G technology to help facilitate this process. I think Huawei will continue to take the lead when it comes to 6G research, but our judgment is that the commercial use of 6G won't begin for at least 10 years. Therefore, transferring 5G technology to other companies does not mean we will stop working on it. Instead, the money we get from this transfer will allow us to make greater strides forward.


Yes. It’s a one-off payment.

WHAT DO THE EXECUTIVES OF THE COMPANY THINK ABOUT THIS PLAN? I don't think they would be shocked. Because for Huawei, we hope to see a balanced world. A balanced distribution of interests is conducive to Huawei's survival in this world. This same concept was put forward by the UK more than 100 years ago.


DO YOU THINK THE US BUSINESS AND POLITICAL COMMUNITY HAS WHAT IT TAKES TO TAKE THIS 5G IP PACKAGE AND MAKE IT A GLOBAL COMPETITOR TO HUAWEI? I don't think so. If the US wants to buy from us, we will be serious about pursuing that option.


THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR TIME. You’re welcome to visit us often. If you want to know if Huawei can survive, you can come and see us the same time next year.





SEPTEMBER 24 - 26, 2019

Dirsi Investor Launches Large-Scale Residential Complex in Baku 1,500 underground car park spaces. In addition, in order to ensure the maximum comfort of the residents, in the commercial areas of the complex, found on the first two floors, there are restaurants, cafés, a fitness center, kindergarten, beauty salon and more. Shahin Movsumov continues development of the Dirsi project ‘City within the City’. The company has allocated



hahin Movsumov, one of the largest investors in Georgia, Founder of the Development Company AS Group Investment and the author of the

concept of the major residential complex of Tbilisi named ‘City within the City’ has opened a unique, large-scale and multifunctional residential complex Renessans Palace in the city of Baku. The complex implemented in the homeland of the Dirsi founder is distinguished with high quality, representing one of the primary preconditions of all projects of the company.

Outstanding for its impressive size, the complex integrates 20 blocks and boasts 1,050 modern apartments in total. It covers nearly 3 hectares of land and an enclosed forest-park with sports and recreational infrastructure, sport fields and more. Renessans Palace has the largest parking area among the residential complexes of Baku, with 120 outdoor and

investments worth $200 million for the first stage of the project, with four more stages to follow. In the Isani district of Tbilisi, the value of the investment is to exceed $1.5 billion. The portfolio of AS Group Investments integrates more than 40 successfully completed projects in the region, including infrastructural, residential and villa complexes.




Museum of Fine Arts & Art House Host Renowned 'Be Museumer' Training seen so far, we are impressed. The building itself is definitely very beautiful and eye-catching with its interior, as well as the exterior. Everything looks so good, so well taken care of, modern and spacious, with a lot of space for interaction.

HOW MUCH DID YOU ENJOY THE EXHIBITION AND THE WORKS OF GEORGIAN ARTISTS? The exhibition is undoubtedly impressive in its diversity and number of works. We in Holland would be envious of a collection that is so diverse and multicultural. Having so many female painters is especially exciting.



he Hospitality in Museums training run at Tbilisi’s Georgian Museum of Fine Arts and Art House - The Place to Meet from September 19-21 had a focus on the needs of a museum visitor with high expectations. The training was especially developed for museum professionals responsible for public services: PR and marketing specialists, public services managers, event managers; as well as guides, receptionists, and more. Training analyzed the typical customer journey to see what can be done to fulfill the visitor’s needs (in content, in a social way and in visitor flow). Participants also learned how small gestures from museum staff can make a big difference in the Net Promoter Score - the way people think about a museum. The training also introduced the framework for analyzing museum public spaces from a commercial standpoint, with each topic supported by a selection of real museum cases. The training was led by Marjolein de Boer, Director of Dutch Academy of Cultural Management, the Netherlands

and facilitated by Lilia Iosilevich, coordinator, Dutch Academy of Cultural Management, the Netherlands. GEORGIA TODAY sat down with Marjolein de Boer to find out more about the project and the Georgian Museum of Fine Arts.

TELL US YOUR IMPRESSIONS OF GEORGIA SO FAR, AND OF DELIVERING THE TRAINING HERE AT THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS. We have a wonderful group, comprising mostly young people 25-30 years old, who work very hard, come to the training with concrete questions and who strive to learn. We try to share our knowledge and launched very interactive and open discussions. Sometimes, I do train older people aged 50-60 and there is a huge difference between these two age groups and their interests.

THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS AND ITS EXTENSION ART HOUSE – THE PLACE TO MEET IS HOSTING THIS TRAINING. WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE VENUE? As we are talking, the group of trainees is conducting a study on the customer journey at this museum. From what we’ve

EVEN THOUGH IT WOULD CERTAINLY BE DIFFICULT TO ASSESS THE POTENTIAL OF THE COUNTRY THROUGH ONE VENUE, COULD YOU TELL US YOUR VIEWS ON GEORGIA’S POTENTIAL FOR DEVELOPING A MUSEUM CULTURE ON THE EXAMPLE OF THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS? From what I have seen so far, it is hard to speak about this issue. Yet, we have met many Georgian people who are motivated, energetic and enthusiastic about learning and discovering novelties.

ABOUT THE PROJECT BE MUSEUMER The project is initiated and led by Georgian Museum Association and is being run in partnership with NEMONetwork of European Museum organizations (Germany) and Academy of Cultural Management (the Netherlands). Project was launched in February 2019 and will last through 2021. Funded by the EU’s Creative Europe Program, the project aims to support the development of the museum field in the South Caucasus region: 1. To establish a three-year International Training Program (ITP) to elevate the professionalism of museumers in Geor-

gia, Armenia and Azerbaijan; 2. To establish an International Center of Museum Studies based at the Tbilisi State Academy of Art; 3. To conduct research of the museum spaces in the South Caucasus region in the context of facts/figures/problems/ challenges/perspectives and recommendations. The study will be published and be available online. The BE Museumer International Training program is designed and focused on long-term education to strengthen participants’ leadership and management skills in order to respond to the 21st century museum challenges. Learning modules cover trainings/seminars, public lectures, webinars, peer-to-peer mentorship, forums/symposiums, study tours, research visits, developing and publishing manuals/toolkits, and small-grant projects programs. The international training program is focused on the topic of key issues in the museum field (museum mission, vision, values, museum education, social and economic value, digital influence, museum marketing, fundraising, business-culture development, museum services and hospitality, audience development etc.). The program modules are delivered by European leading museum experts.

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Each component of the ITP is organized in different museums in Georgia, which aims to position those museums and work on the particular museums as case studies during the training series. BE Museumer ITP has already conducted two series in two different museums, one on museum education (at the Georgian National Museum) and another on Museum marketing issues (at the State Silk Museum). This weekend’s training will focus on hospitality trends and the customer journey in museums and will be held in the Georgian Museum of Fine Arts. The Georgian Museum of Fine Arts is a partner of the project during the hospitality training and the museum will become a venue and with its various spaces serve as case study for the abovementioned training. Training experts and 20 participants from different museums of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia will discuss the museum’s experience in the visitor journey and analyze its value as a public space from a commercial standpoint. For more information, please contact Lana Karaia, project manager, at bemuseumer@ gmail.com +995593478164





SEPTEMBER 24 - 26, 2019

Laura Thornton, NDI Global Associate, on the Popularity Poll EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE


ecent poll results released by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and CRRC Georgia revealed that the majority of respondents, 46%, believe the country is moving in the wrong direction. Only 25% thinks it is heading in the right direction. "Unfortunately, Georgians see their leaders and representatives, who should be working on behalf of all Georgians, as harmful to the country’s unity,” said Laura Thornton, NDI Global Associate. “Particularly when people are losing confidence in their country’s direction, divisiveness and polarization can threaten Georgia’s resilience and growth. Leaders should lead by example and do more to bring people together," she added. GEORGIA TODAY went to speak to her to get more of her take on the situation.

THERE ARE COUNTRIES WITH A HUGE INFLATION RATE, BUT THEY FEEL FINE. Right. I’m very curious to see why that is; if they just look at the value of the currency as an indicator of something bigger. Certainly, that would affect people purchasing a lot of products that are imported, for example.

IN 2010, THE LAST TIME THIS DISSATISFACTION WAS SEEN, IT WAS JUST TWO YEARS AHEAD OF AN ELECTION. CAN WE ASSUME THIS KIND OF SCENARIO MIGHT BE REALISTIC IN THE UPCOMING ELECTION? If I were an analyst in another country and someone said that 60% of the population believes that the government is performing badly, the majority of people think the country's going in the wrong direction, I would say you know the government's in trouble. However, in Georgia we don't see any support for any other options and continually have a similar outcome.



Good question. When things aren’t going well, you need to find a boogie man, and usually the answers are more complex. For example, the state of the economy: the economy is affected by global trends, by multiple things, resources. In Georgia, we do see this very negative trend and I can’t explain whether that would be different under a different government but I do think Georgians, at least in their perception, see the government as responsible. The country going in the wrong direction attracts very closely to the value of the GEL: the fact that people perceive the economy as performing badly- it’s all intricately linked and I would be very interested to know that if the economy was going well, whether it would change anything. Georgians identify their top national issues as primarily economic ones; so, whether it would be different under different government it’s a pure speculation, I cannot say. What I can say is that currently people hold them responsible for this and believe they are not performing well.

I think that's fair to say. Looking at our polling data, you can see 60%, you don’t see such figures in other countries; in the United States for example, you might have one to two percent undecided. We're in an unusual country, so it's not a very fair comparison, but you don't see so many determined voters who do not like anybody; basically no one likes their options and even though there's plenty of options beyond the main parties: smaller parties, new movements, the Democratic Socialist Party, Libertarian party, Populist party- there are other choices but yet people don't seem to be satisfied. So yes, I think you can call it a vacuum, though I look at it as a huge opportunity for anyone who's out there now.

THERE’S A LINE IN THE NDI FINDINGS SAYING THAT THE FEELING THAT THE COUNTRY IS MOVING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION IS STRONGLY LINKED TO THE LARI DEPRECIATION. This to me is fascinating, because according to official statistics, inflation is really not that high, but people perceive the Lari depreciation and inflation as the same and are clearly thinking the country is going in the wrong direction based on what the value of the Lari is.

YOU THINK THEY'RE LOOKING OUT FOR SOMEONE AND IT’S NOT A KIND OF POLITICAL NIHILISM? It could be a bit of both. I think people are just fed up with politics; they don't believe anyone represents their interests, but when I see such high intention to vote, it makes me think that they want something. The majority of people who said “yes I will vote” are undecided. They want to participate but I don't know whether they’ll turn up on the day. A lot of people that work today make a decision the day of the election. They get into the polling station and, who knows, maybe they just choose [randomly]; they just hold their noses and vote for the lesser of evils. It’s a feasible option; so even though people might not dislike the two major parties, when they get

into the polling station, interestingly, they do pull the trigger for one of themthey don't take a chance on somebody else and I don't know why that is.

CONSIDERING THE POLLING WAS CONDUCTED IN JULY, WHY IS THERE NO QUESTION WHATSOEVER ABOUT ANAKLIA OR KHAZARADZE’S POLITICAL MOVEMENT? Because Khazaradze hadn't declared it. Actually, we asked about it in our last paper; I mean there's certain questions we only ask at check-in. We don't need to check in every two months on the same questionnaire and we have limited space in the poll. We did ask about Anaklia in our April poll and we asked about Khazaradze when the charges against him were brought as to whether the charges against him were political or perceived as political- and most people did say it’s political. I can't remember the numbers exactly, but we did ask about him, and about Anaklia. We’re doing another poll, and of course this will include Khazaradze’s social movement.


you know you like or don’t like a person. In our last poll, we had a lot more people, and we did individual ratings. We didn't have space in this poll to do that but in our last, Kakha Kaladze still stood out even among a big group of people as most popular; so, presumably, people are satisfied with what he's doing or they like his approach or charisma. I do know he's consistently popular.

WE DON’T SEE THE OPPOSITION LEADERS THERE. IS THAT ON PURPOSE? No, we did ask about a lot of opposition leaders, but, as I said, we didn't do individual ratings in this poll.

IF THE OVERALL APPROVAL RATING OF GOVERNMENT LEADERS IS PLUMMETING, THERE SHOULD BE AT LEAST SOME GAIN FOR THE OPPOSITION. In our last poll, you could see there were some popular people: Margvelashvili, Davit Bakradze, Usupashvili. What's interesting is that the favorability and unfavorability ratings don't necessarily translate into parties. For example, Irakli Alasania was always enormously popular and yet Free Democrats was not. I think it's very interesting that one would presume that with the government having these negative trends, we’d see a jump in support for these opposition persons, but you don't. I certainly think it presents an opportunity for opposition parties to take advantage, but we don’t see that translating in real life.

YOU DIDN’T MENTION THE [RUSSIAN] OCCUPATION AMONG THE JUNE 20 EVENTS. WHY NOT? Because again our last poll was focused exclusively on foreign policy where we asked multiple questions related to security, foreign policy, EU, NATO. In every poll, we have to limit ourselves and we can't ask everything all the time. In this poll, we didn't ask about territorial integrity and asked one question about the EU.

THE OVERWHELMING MOOD, IF WE WERE TO JUDGE FROM THE POLL FINDINGS, IS VERY NEGATIVE. ANYTHING POSITIVE HAPPENING? ANYTHING TO MAKE PEOPLE CHEERFUL? I always like to focus on the positive so I thought the results about healthcare were really quite positive; people believe that healthcare is of good quality, they like the universal healthcare system, they have accessible clinics nearby; I mean they complained about the cost of medicine but that's actually something very concrete and something that can be addressed; as could a lot of factors. My personal experience is the doctors here prescribe so many drugs, you have to question the need. This is something that can be addressed and fixed but, other than that, people were really positive, pleased even. I mean, we're struggling in my country with healthcare debates and spending on healthcare and universal healthcare and I think it's a real achievement over the last 10 years for Georgia, so, that's worth a shout-out I think.

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10 Challenging Plastic Waste Projects to Pitch Ideas to Win EUR 50,000


he European Commission has announced the Finalists for the 2019 European Social Innovation Competition. The three winners of this year’s competition will be announced at an Awards Ceremony on 24 October in Brussels, each to receive EUR 50,000 in prize money. At the same event, the Impact Prize winner will also be announced. Ten Challenging Plastic Waste projects from nine countries are now competing for three EUR 50,000 prizes:

RECICLAGAME (ITALY) A bio-conversion, self-sufficient system that converts plastic into a sustainable silk material.

REFEEL GOOD (PORTUGAL) A delivery refill system for laundry & home care products.

RIS (SLOVENIA) Water-soluble shampoo marbles made with natural ingredients.


APAGA (ARMENIA) A recycling reward program based on a digital platform to foster community, education and commitment.

An edible spray used on the surface of foods to preserve them, reducing the need for plastic wrapping and containers.


EMPOWER (NORWAY) A digital plastic waste collection system, through which plastic waste can be deposited for a financial reward.

LAM’ON (BULGARIA) A 100% biodegradable laminating film made from renewable resources to seal and preserve printed materials.

LUFT PARCEL (UNITED KINGDOM) A returnable parcel enabling online retailers to eliminate single use plastic and other packaging materials for postal deliveries to customers.

MIWA (CZECH REPUBLIC) An innovative, financially sustainable circular distribution and sale system for food and non-food products with reusable packaging.

A biotechnological start-up that transforms organic waste into biodegradable polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) bioplastics using bacteria. The Awards Ceremony will take place on 24 October at the Albert Hall Complex in Brussels and will see an afternoon dedicated to celebrating great social innovation projects that challenge plastic waste, alongside the Competition’s finalists and experts across Europe. GEORGIA TODAY spoke to Cedric Solms, Co-Founder of Apaga in Armenia. "We are very happy about the result and seeing that all the hard work is paying off. Misha [second Co-Founder] called me directly and told me, and we and all our team in Armenia are super excited about this great opportunity and that we have made it so far!" Solms told

us. "Our team has worked incredibly hard to get this far in the last year. We have developed new Apaga SmartContainers that allow people to easily recycle their waste and get awesome rewards for it. People just go there, drop in their waste, it gets measured and, based on the weight, they get cool discounts and gifts from over 50 shops in Armenia. We are very grateful especially to our CMO Haik Kazarian and our great new CTO Arshak Ghazarian, without whom we would have never been able to build such an innovative device." We asked him what Apaga would do if they win the prize. "If we win, the money will be spent on further developing the smart container and bringing it to other countries such as Georgia, as well as attracting more new companies to join our platform and get more rewards for people that recycle." Launched in memory of social innovation pioneer Diogo Vasconcelos, the European Social Innovation Competition is a challenge prize run by the European Commission across all EU Member States and Horizon 2020 associated countries. Now in its 7th year, the Competition acts as a beacon for social innovators in Europe, employing a proven methodology for supporting early-stage ideas and facilitating a network of radical innovators shaping society for the better. Each year the Competition addresses a different issue facing Europe. This year the focus is: Challenging Plastic Waste. The 2019 Finalists were selected by an expert Judging Panel from a group of 30 Semi-Finalists who, in turn, had been

chosen from a total of 543 applicants from across Europe. All Semi-Finalists participated in the European Social Innovation Competition Academy over the summer; an intensive training and coaching program designed to develop their

initiatives. The Competition is organized by the European Commission with support from Nesta, Kennisland, Ashoka Spain, the European Network of Living Labs, and Scholz & Friends.

HUAWEI Presents Most Powerful & Aesthetic Mate 30 Series



UAWEI has completely changed the smartphone industry with its flagship series introduced on September 19. HUAWEI unveiled its ground-breaking HUAWEI Mate 30 Series, equipped with amazing Quad Camera System with Breakthrough SuperSensing Cine Camera and the flagship Kirin 990 5G processor, at an exclusive launch event in Munich. Benefiting from Huawei’s 32-years of expertise in communication technologies and a decade in design innovation, the HUAWEI Mate 30 looks and performs like

no other smartphone. These latest series showcases the perfect example of how aesthetic design fuses with technology. Its unique, iconic OLED HUAWEI Horizon Display offers an immersive viewing experience. The HUAWEI Mate 30 Series work on HUAWEI’s Kirin 990 Series Chip, which was created specifically for the most aesthetic smartphone of the company. A revolutionary integrated quad-camera includes the SuperSensing Cine Camera, a dual main camera system designed for amazing photographic and videographic results, while the HUAWEI SuperCharge and EMUI10 offer longlasting battery life for heavy mobile users and an enhanced user experience. Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer



Commercial Director: Iva Merabishvili Marketing Manager: Sesili Tikaradze



Editor-In-Chief: Katie Ruth Davies

Business Group, said that the HUAWEI Mate 30 Series unleashes the full potential of the smartphone. „Designed to stand out, it challenges convention while delivering an unrivalled user experience. The era of 5G is an opportunity to rethink smartphone technology and the HUAWEI Mate 30 series is the ultimate expression of what’s possible“. The HUAWEI Mate 30 Series is distinguished by a large battery of 4200mAh and 4500mAh. The series is equipped with an ultra-sensitive camera system. Coupled with an ISP 5.0 Image Signal Processor, it enables users to capture unbelievably high-quality photographs and videos. The HUAWEI Mate 30 truly stands out

Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Zaza Jgarkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Dimitri Dolaberidze, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze, Samantha Guthrie, Amy Jones, Thea Morrison, Ana Dumbadze, Ketevan Kvaratskheliya Photographer: Irakli Dolidze

from competitors with its capabilities, including: • Operating System EMUI10 – the chance for continuous and uninterrupted connection between several devices as well as between devices and applications. • Dark Mode – allowing you to read more easily at night- more comfortable for the eye. • Intuitive Side-touch Interaction– an interactive feature to customize the invisible virtual keyboard, to adjust the volume, gaming, and to customize your camera. • AI gesture control - for contactless screen interaction whereas AI AutoRotate and AI Private View are all designed to improve users experience • HiCar - Smart and fast trip between advanced, uninterrupted connectivity, and car communication and entertainment systems • Multi-screen collaboration – allows users to transfer and control data between HUAWEI devices, while working on multiple screens simultaneously. • HUAWEI 3D Face Unlock and Inscreen Fingerprint – to provide advanced data security and privacy protection

Website Manager/Editor: Katie Ruth Davies Layout: Misha Mchedlishvili Webmaster: Sergey Gevenov Circulation Managers: David Kerdikashvili, David Djandjgava

(HUAWEI Mate 30 Pro only. The 6.53-inch HUAWEI Mate 30 Pro and the 6.62-inch HUAWEI Mate 30 come in several colors: emerald green, cosmic silver, cosmic lilac and black. Forest green and orange are made from vegan leather. The experts assess the HUAWEI Mate 30 series as the world’s first 5G smartphone of the second generation, which represents the highest point in the technological development of smartphones in the fields of technical engineering and software innovation. HUAWEI products and services are available in more than 170 countries and are used by a third of the world's population. There are 16 research and development centers operating worldwide in the USA, Germany, Sweden, Russia, India and China. HUAWEI Consumer BG is one of three business units of HUAWEI, mainly focusing on the production of smartphones, personal computers, tablets and cloud services. The HUAWEI Global Network is based on 20 years of experience in the telecommunications business and serves to the production of innovative technologies to customers around the world.


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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1188 Business  

September 24 - 26, 2019

Issue #1188 Business  

September 24 - 26, 2019