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Issue no: 1206/208

• NOVEMBER 26 - 28, 2019



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

Audit Reveals Flaws in Gori Municipality Spending BUSINESS PAGE 3

Internal Georgia & the Fate of Anaklia Port in 2020 BUSINESS PAGE 4


ON DOING BUSINESS WITH AUSTRIA The Austrian Ambassador on bilateral relations


Should Your Children Be Unschooled? BUSINESS PAGE 6

Education, Training & Skills Key to Economic Growth, Social Cohesion & Political Stability in EU Neighborhood Countries

Tbilisi Budget 2020 & Its Priorities Georgia's Leading English BUSINESS PAGE 8

Tourism Platform WHERE. ge Celebrates 3 Years of Success



he total budget allocated to Tbilisi for 2020 amounts to GEL 1,020,000,000 ($342,857,139), with revenues of GEL 979,569,000 ($329,266,887.05); GEL 30 million less than the planned revenues of 2019, GEL 1,010,200,500 ($339,563,189.46). Next year's draft budget also specifies that out of the total revenues, GEL 675 million ($226.89m) are taxes, GEL 100 million ($33.61m) are grants and GEL 202 million ($67.90m) are other revenues. On the whole, the 2020 revenues are lower, but in some areas Tbilisi City Hall has more positive expectations than it had this year, in revenues from taxes, for example, which are projected to grow by about GEL 17 million in the 2020 budget.


Inn Group - High Standard Budget Hotel Chain in Georgia BUSINESS PAGE 11 Prepared for Georgia Today Business by


Image source: matadornetwork.com



City Hall also expects about GEL 15 million more to be included in the capital's 2020 property tax budget. Where the current plan was GEL 185 million, next year City Hall expects that it will be able to mobilize GEL 205 million from property tax, which is GEL 20 million more than in 2019. As for other revenues, the Tbilisi City Hall is also expecting more money from construction permits in 2020 than this year. The plan for 2019 was GEL 8.5 million and next year GEL 10 million. The capital city government is also expecting millions of Lari more in revenue from the taxi license fee (this year's plan was GEL 700,000), and GEL 11 million more from fines, up to GEL 51 million from this year’s GEL 40 million. However, next year there is an expected fall of GEL 4 million from the gambling business fees compared to 2019 revenues. Continued on page 4





































COMMODITIES CrudeOil,Brent(US$/bbl) GoldSpot(US$/OZ)























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NOVEMBER 26 - 28, 2019

United Opposition Proposes Model for Moving to New Electoral System @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: Qwhiskey is a new alcoholic drink from Georgia. Gigi Tevzadze, a teacher of philosophy and sociology by profession, got the idea of launching the brand a few years ago, preceeded by his interest and wish to create a new Georgian drink. He came up with whiskey made from wine. The ‘Q’ in the name of the brand stands for Qvevri. By subjecting his friends to many tastings, the drink reached its final taste a year and half ago. Later, to technically refine the new aromas of Qwhiskey, Gigi added to his team pharmacologist Aleko Bakuradze and winemaker Giorgi Barisashvili. The Qvevri whiskey is available in a limited number of restaurants and bars and talks have begun to expand the output locally as well as internationally. The idea of preventing damage caused by plastic waste was the reason behind the establishment of Eka Asatiani’s Georgian start-up Plasticwatcher. The start-up works to collect plastic waste and make iconic items from recycled Polyethylene. It is a model of circular business – reusing already existing resources and waste to create something new. Colorful raincoats, accessories and different items that are put together through this sustainable process will soon be available on an online platform accessible for both Georgian and international customers. Natia Pashurashvili’s start-up ‘Sadme’ offers a great alternative for those looking to escape city life on the weekends but have no idea where to go to. A small, cozy wood cottage near Sioni Lake with a beautifully decorated garden, it offers a great relaxing get-away for tired guests, and demand is on the up. What’s more, it can be used to host extraordinary weddings and parties. Natia notes that she wanted to give people an opportunity to rest near Tbilisi, in a cozy house snuggled in calm, beautiful nature. She says it won’t be long until ‘Sadme’ expands to other beautiful locations of Georgian nature. 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



he united opposition has proposed its own model to Parliament for a new electoral system. Giorgi Vashadze, one of the leaders of the united opposition, told reporters that the model developed by them is based on the so-called German model, is consistent with the Georgian constitution, expresses public opinion, gives preference to the proportional system and considers Georgian reality. "The novelty of all this is that votes will be proportionally distributed among candidates; the majoritarian system will be maintained, but there will be multimandate majoritarian constituencies - 6, 7 or 8-mandate constituencies. Each voter will have one vote and therefore, no political force will be able to seize power. The interest of each individual

will be maximally expressed and, most importantly, the government will serve people and not authoritarians, who were unfortunately developed under the old system," he said. "This document, which we have drafted, will be handed over to international organizations and will be initiated in Parliament. It needs only 76 votes, not a constitutional majority. This is a very easy way for Georgia to overcome, once and for all, the disastrous electoral sys-

tem that exists in our country today. This document is fully in line with the Constitution. Our model is based on the 'German model,' which takes into account the Georgian reality. There will be a majoritarian system, but there will be multi-mandate majoritarian constituencies and the Georgian Dream will not be allowed to manipulate," Vashadze said, adding that the parliamentary session will be held peacefully only after their demand is satisfied.

Bokeria: We Will Continue Rallies until Govt' Agrees to Our Electoral System BY ANA DUMBADZE


ne of the leaders of the opposition European Georgia party, Giga Bokeria, claims that they will continue picketing the parliament building and holding protests until the ruling team agrees to their model of electoral system, which is based on the German model. “First, they should accept this model and then hold a plebiscite, which we will definitely win. We will con-

tinue picketing Parliament and holding protests until the ruling team agrees to this model and takes back its insult. Who will buy the idea of holding a plebiscite after 6 months? And then again Okriashvili and Gulordava should decide Georgia's fate?! They will not do so,” he said. Bokeria's statement refers to the ruling party's Secretary-General, Kakha Kaladze's announcement about the government's decision on the electoral reform, saying that the Georgian Dream is ready to hold a plebiscite on the issue of the electoral system on the day of either the 2020 parliamentary elections or 2021 local self-

government elections. “There is a group of majoritarian MPs in the parliamentary majority which is proposing to move to a fully majoritarian system. After consulting with the team yesterday and today, we assured them that the team would not consider any new initiatives for the 2020 elections. However, we understand their general initiative and we agreed that they will continue to work in this direction, provided that a plebiscite will be held on the issue of the electoral system on the day of either the 2020 parliamentary elections or the 2021 local selfgovernment elections,” he said.




Audit Reveals Flaws in Gori Municipality Spending Wizz Air

Image source: Imedinews.ge



he State Audit Office (SAO) of Georgia has released a report which reads that Gori Municipality failed to properly use a Polish grant of €68,354 in due time, after which it had to pay it back and as a result of the conversion of the money into EURO, it lost more than GEL 10,000 (€3,050). The Audit Office writes that according to the agreement signed between the Gori Municipality and the Polish side

on July 31, 2017, the Polish party allocated a €8,354 grant within the agreement of which Gori undertook the responsibility to carry out the rehabilitation and equipping of a building for the disabled in the nearby Tiniskhidi village. November 30, 2017 was defined as the deadline for project completion, however, the municipality failed to meet said deadline. The municipality governor signed the agreement on July 31, 2017, despite not having the prior approval of the council at the time nor the government's permission to receive the grant, so violating Georgian legislation. Implementation of these procedures started

late, after the grant was transferred to the municipality account. Municipality representatives took a business trip to Poland from April 28 to May 7, 2017, where the preliminary agreement on mutual cooperation and grant allocation was made. The SAO says that the municipality should have timely initiated appropriate legal procedures, in which case it would have been possible to obtain prior approval from the City Council and the government before the grant agreement was signed. Due to delays in the procedures, the government's permission was granted on September 13, 2017. After receiving

the permit, the deposited money was converted into GEL, which amounted to GEL 200,149. To use the grant, a corresponding change was made to the municipal budget on September 21 and a tender was announced on November 3. The report says that prior to the tender announcement, the municipality failed to provide relevant project cost estimates. The reorganization process of the Gori district administration coincided with the period of tender procedures of the project and finally, according to the protocol of December 26, 2017, the tender procedures were terminated and the municipality as such was unable to fulfill its undertaken obligations. Following these developments, the Gori Municipality requested the Polish side prolong project dates; however, the latter refused and demanded the issued grant back. As a result of the conversion of the money back into the Euros, the budget saw a 10,000 GEL loss. In addition to this, according to the State Audit Office, in 2018, the Gori municipality was advised to reduce its car fleet to 10 units, yet city authorities had 36 automobiles. The agency notes that in May, 2019, after the SAO sent the results of the primary report, the municipality reduced the number of cars to be in line with the recommended amount. The audit report also includes the business expenses of the municipal employees and their purpose. SAO says that in 2017-2018, the municipality spent GEL 73.3 ($24.64) thousand on business travel, including GEL 53.7 ($18.05) thousand in 2017 and GEL 19.6 ($6.59) thousand in 2018. During the mentioned years, 42 people had 35 trips abroad. The Audit Service writes that it is unclear for what purpose the trips were made and what kind of benefits they brought to Gori Municipality.

Launches New Direct Flight from Kutaisi to Bolonia



he Italian city of Bologna has been added as a new destination offered by Hungarian lowcoster Wizz Air operating from Kutaisi International Airport. Wizz Air will fly from Kutaisi to Bologna two times a week like an Irish lowcost airline Ryanair, which launched its first-ever flights from Georgia to European destinations earlier this month. From 2020 Wizz Air will launch two new directions – Nice and Cologne. Wizz Air has been carrying out flights on the Georgian aviation market since it opened its first Caucasian base in Kutaisi in September 2016.

Accor Hotels Group Hotel ‘Ibis Tbilisi Stadium’ Opens in Tbilisi with the Support of TBC Bank


ith the support of TBC Bank, the Accor Hotels Group Hotel ‘Ibis Tbilisi Stadium’ has opened in Tbilisi. The 150-room hotel is located in the city's tourist and cultural center on Agmashenebeli Avenue and is ready to receive guests. The economy-class hotel of the Accor Hotels Group is the third largest hotel in Tbilisi. Its design was developed by the studio ‘Sundukovy Sisters’ and is based on the concept of a modern and bright environment. The hotel offers customers space for business meetings and relaxation, as well as public spaces for locals. “We are pleased to have opened our third hotel in Tbilisi. ‘Ibis Tbilisi Stadium’ is convenient for both tourists and business visitors to the city. A convenient location and a cozy environment will create a pleasant experience for guests. The best combination of price and quality will definitely be the main competitive advantage of the hotel in the market,” said Alexis Delaroff, CEO of Accor Hotels in Eastern Europe. Supporting corporate clients and especially the development of the tourism sector is important for TBC Bank. TBC's total investment in the tourism sector, in particular in hotel financing, amounts to GEL 800 million.

ABOUT ACCOR HOTELS GROUP The French Accor Hotels Group is one of the leading players in the hospitality and tourism industry, combining 4900 hotels and 10,000 apartments in 110 countries for 50 years.

ABOUT THE IBIS BRAND Accor Hotels Group Hotel Brand ‘Ibis’ was founded in 1974 and has become a leader of budget hotels in the European market. The network is known around the world for its environmental concept and offers users a modern environment, comfort and quality service.




NOVEMBER 26 - 28, 2019

Internal Georgia & the Fate of Anaklia Port in 2020 OP-ED BY EMIL AVDALIANI


eyond the large geopolitical trends evolving in Eurasia, the fate of the Anaklia port project will also depend on Georgia’s internal politics as the country enters 2020 with parliamentary elections looming. Let’s start with some destabilizing factors from inside Georgia and then move on to the larger troubles engulfing the Anaklia project. In October, it was announced that Conti International and Meridian Capital Limited’s decision to quit the ADC followed on from almost a year of troubles in the port project. There have also been occasional announcements about the possible expansion of other Georgian Black Sea ports. To Anaklia’s south, in Poti, a decision on whether to construct a multimodal transit terminal is being discussed. Wondernet Express, the international logistics company behind the project, reportedly plans to invest $20mln to expand the storage capacity of fertilizers up to 60,000 tons. International port operator APM Terminals, along with Poti New Terminals Consortium, have also submitted a conceptual design for the expansion of APM Terminals’ Poti Sea Port. Meanwhile, the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) issued a loan of $50mn to Pace Group to develop the planned multi-functional marine terminal at Poti. Moving even further south, in another

Georgian port, Batumi, construction of an additional terminal was also announced. On a regional level, it was recently reported that Russia, through the RMP (RosMorPort) Taman Consortium, is set to build the ‘Taman Port,’ which is located on the Russian side of the strategically important Kerch Strait that connects the Black and Azov seas. There are also negative trends on the global stage. Over the past year, the Anaklia port acquired a geopolitical dimension. Russia has been quietly watching developments around Anaklia. However, it is in Moscow’s interest either to be part of the Anaklia project or have it postponed as the country has its own plans for the development of a new deep sea port (Taman) and the preservation of an old one (Novorossyisk). Then there are China and the US. Both have specific interests in the project. Beijing sent its Foreign Minister to Georgia (for the first time in 23 years) in May 2019, just at the time of the worst Anaklia troubles, signaling rising Chinese interest in participating in the project. The US, on the contrary, has been quite open in its views and general support for the project. For example, on October 26, Elizabeth Rudd, acting US Ambassador to Georgia, said that “the United States still considers the Anaklia port as a very important project for Georgia. We are very hopeful that it will be implemented, especially with the American investment”. This comes in line with what other

Image source: emerging-europe.com

American politicians stated earlier. In June, the US foreign secretary Mike Pompeo told the Georgian government that the “the project and others will enhance Georgia’s relationship with free economies and prevent Georgia from falling prey to Russian or Chinese economic influence. Those pretend friends do not have Georgia’s best interests at heart.” Such statements, though not implemented on the ground, nevertheless show that there are growing signs of

Anaklia being drawn into the unfolding geopolitical competition across Eurasia between the US and China. Control over ports and roads is of vital importance and there are increasing indications in various US statements that Washington wants to deny the Chinese the use of Anaklia because of its likely inclusion within the Beijing’s trillion-dollar ‘Belt and Road Initiative’, which aims to connect China with Europe’s almost 500-miliion people market. As Georgia nears the elections and the

situation inside the country heats up, major parties will use the failure to build the Anaklia port against each other. Undoubtedly, this will complicate the investment climate in the country and negatively affect the Anaklia project. However, one could also argue that despite internal problems, wider geopolitical imperatives, namely, US and Chinese interests to have the port constructed, will keep the Anaklia project floating for some time – at least throughout 2020.

Chairman of ICC Addresses PM, Members of Investors Council with Letter BY ANA DUMBADZE


he International Chamber of Commerce in Georgia (ICC) will not attend tomorrow's meeting of the Investors Council, reads the letter of Fady Asly, Chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce, sent to the Prime Minister of Georgia, the Secretary General of the Investors Council and members of the Investors Council. “Dear Prime Minister and honorable members of the Investors Council, "Since its inception in 2002, the International Chamber of Commerce in Georgia has been vocal and candid in its communication with the authorities, the business community and Georgian society at large; we never shied away from speaking about the problems that the country was facing, and have always voiced our recommendations to improve both the business and investment climates in Georgia," reads the letter. "The ICC has been very committed to the activities of the Investors Council since its creation; we have regularly expressed our concerns regarding various counterproductive policies adopted or followed by government; the minutes of the Council are full of our remarks, advice, warnings and recommendations, not to mention the dozens of letters that we sent out to various government offi-

cials over the years, requesting them to review several detrimental laws and regulations that seriously undermined the economy. "Had the government followed our recommendations from day one, our national currency would not have devalued, Foreign Direct Investments would not have plummeted to a level lower than that of 2006, and nominal GDP per capita in dollar value this year would not have been lower than that of the year 2012, all of which means that the country and its people are poorer today than they were seven years ago. "We will open here a small parenthesis and mention that GDP per capita for smaller economies like Georgia, mainly dependent on foreign trade, should always be measured using nominal figures and not PPP figures, as some 'experts' from government wrongfully do, thus distorting facts and misleading the public. "Since 2013, the policy of this government has been to keep foreign investors away, especially those coming from regional countries, either by sending them back at the border, or by refusing to grant them residencies, even short term ones, or by denying them help to solve problems that were artificially created, with the purpose of discouraging them from pursuing their investments. "In short, this government has totally undermined Georgia’s reputation as an investment friendly country, and the ICC is very well placed to give an opinion in this respect, being the very first stop for

new foreign investors exploring the country and the last recourse for those facing problems. "In addition, since 2013, the government has bankrupted many businesses accused of being close or friendly with the previous administration, the government has also pressured or destroyed many businesses out of personal retaliation or due to political considerations.

"This year and due to the unsolicited government attacks against TBC and the Anaklia founders, all the Georgian companies listed on the London stock exchange have jointly lost hundreds of millions of dollars, and the country's reputation has been completely shattered abroad within the sphere of international investors. "Prime Minister Gakharia knows very well what we are talking about; we brought such issues and many others to him when he was Business Ombudsman, Secretary of the Economic Council and later on Minister of Economy. "Meanwhile over seven years the government has issued myriad new rules and regulations that have unnecessarily complicated, burdened and hampered businesses and the business environment, resulting in the loss of our country's competitive advantage as an emerging market. "Some of those regulations were drafted to comply with the terms of the DCFTA, and they cost our economy hundreds of millions of dollars; our question is the following: What is the use of the DCFTA if foreign investors are not allowed to do business in the country? Imagine buying a very expensive limousine for commercial purposes, but locking it in a garage, not using it commercially and not allowing anyone else to use it either. Technically, this is what is happening with the DCFTA, we are paying a prohibitive price for it, but we are not allowing investors to engage in the country

and take advantage of its benefits so that we can develop our economy and offset the economic costs of the legislative compliance burden. "As a result of this policy of “No Investors Allowed”, Bidzina Ivanishvili has become today the one and only major investor in the country, which prompts us to mention the ongoing talks regarding his decision to purchase from the government the complex of Tskaltubo for his own private business. "Mr. Ivanishvili is the de facto President, Prime Minister, Speaker of Parliament, Prosecutor General and Chairman of the Supreme Court of Georgia, so no matter how the government will wrap this transaction or sugarcoat it, it will still be a textbook case of flagrant conflict of interest and corruption by any international standard of ethics, good governance and transparency; any official who will endorse or facilitate this transaction will be part of the corruption scheme with all the consequences that this could entail in the future. "Finally, about a month ago, Prime Minister Gakharia invited the business community at large to meet and discuss the ongoing economic situation. "The meeting was attended by every single business organization in the country, from the largest one to the smallest one; nevertheless, the presence of the International Chamber of Commerce, which is the largest business organization in the world, was considered unnecessary.”

Tbilisi Budget 2020 & Its Priorities Continued from page 1 Compared to the previous year, the volume of expenditures is also to decrease in the 2020 budget, to GEL 735 million ($247m), GEL 28 million less compared to 2019 expenditures of GEL 763 886.0 thousand ($256,768 thousand). In addition to this, by 2020, remuneration will be reduced by GEL 20 million. The budget also stipulates that the number of employees in Tbilisi Municipality is to decrease by 1266 peo-

ple. Where in 2019 there were 4936 people employed in the Municipality, in 2020 the number of employees will be reduced to 3670. City Hall explains that it is not planned to reduce workplaces and the changes come as a result of the Tbilisi ambulance unit being relocated to the subordination of the Health Ministry from next year. Regarding the expenses of the City Hall administration and Tbilisi City Council, the number of employees in this field is to increase by 51 persons. Employees will be added to the Munic-

ipal Inspection and City Transport Department. The number of employees in the City Hall administration has not changed and there are still 115 employees, but the payroll has increased by GEL 242,000. ($81,344). The Reserve Fund next year will be halved and will amount to GEL 2.5 million. The subsidy costs will be increased by GEL15 million, while Tbilisi City Hall will spend GEL 10 million less next year on social programs. The budget of the Tbilisi Municipality 2020 provides the following key

priorities: - Construction of transport infrastructure and its restoration: GEL122 046.1 thousand ($41023.87 thousand) - Construction of infrastructure facilities, operation and reinforcement of emergency buildings: GEL 269 046.9 thousand ($90435.93 thousand) - Maintenance and improvement of ecological status: GEL 111 348.1 thousand ($37427.93 thousand) - Promotion of economic development: GEL 7 127.5 thousand ($2395.80 thousand)

- Development of house-owner partnerships: 38 296.3 thousand GEL ($12872.71 thousand) - Health care and social security: GEL 151 695.8 thousand ($50990.18 thousand) - Education: GEL 168 559.6 thousand ($56658.69 thousand) - Culture, Sport and Youth: GEL 41 835.5 thousand ($14062.35 thousand) - Public order and security: GEL 6 601.2 thousand ($2218.89 thousand) - Representative and executive bodies of Tbilisi: GEL 103 442.9 thousand ($34770.72 thousand).



The Winners of Staropramen’s SMEG Refrigerator Raffle Announced


taropramen Brewery never ceases to surprise, now forging ahead with the SMEG Refrigerator Challenge. The winners were announced at an Awards Ceremony on November 22 in East Point’s Carrefour. The ceremony was held in the Carrefour supermarket chain and the participants were MyClub card-owners from Tbilisi and Batumi. The contest lasted for a month, starting October 10, and had 1229 participants. Nana Lebanidze and Murtaz Kakulia won the raffle. Each was awarded a Staropramen SMEG refrigerator- an exclusively designed prize for the winners. “This year Staropramen celebrates its 150th anniversary, as part of which we designed a myriad of events, including an evening of acoustic music. Another event was the SMEG Refrigerator Raffle.

Two SMEG refrigerators were created specifically for the raffle, which was played with MyClub cards together with Carrefour. We have two winners who were awarded special refrigerators,” says Nino Surmava, Brand Manager at Staropramen. “I participated in the Staropramen Refrigirator Competition. I want to thank the organizers of the event. It was a triple pleasure - I savoured beer, earned points and won the fridge,” said winner Murtaz Kakulia. The refrigerator was created for the contest with the collaboration of Staropramen and SMEG. It has a special shelf for beer and, just like Staropramen, the fridge has a touch of Prague to its design. One easy way to have got involved in the contest was to buy any packaging of Staropramen beer and accumulate liters on a My Club card at any Carrefour store.





NOVEMBER 26 - 28, 2019

Conference and Exhibition Halls at the Museum of Fine Arts & the Art House BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA


rt House – The Place to Meet, which is an extension of the Georgian Museum of Fine Arts, is a multifunctional complex in the heart of the Tbilisi, integrating cafÊs, restaurant, fit club and conference hall in the same area. The conference hall of Art House, distinguished for its cozy environment is set to be a great discovery for business clients. It makes a perfect venue for official meetings, as well as semi-formal events. A mouthwatering buffet with a selection of fine food can also be provided on site. The exhibition hall is also ready to serve for corporate and exclusive events, award ceremonies and exhibitions. The two venues of the Art House have already successfully hosted events of important establishments, including embassies and international organizations. The venue also hosted Mercedes Benz Fashion Week twice. Georgian Museum of Fine Arts & Art House even provides an opportunity to hold private museum tours for corporations seeking to run teambuilding activities, while gourmands can benefit from the gastronomic tour which begins in the museum and closes with tasting of fine wines in the Kharcho restaurant. #foryourfirsttimeingeorgia Address: L. Gudiashvili St. 18 Sh. Rustaveli St. 7 Tel: 544 44 45 44 Art House - The Place to Meet @arthouse_georgia

Should Your Children Be Unschooled? BY ARTHUR GRANT


or parents exploring alternatives to traditional classroom education, the conversation has for many years centered around structured homeschooling. In recent years, child-led "unschooling" has emerged as another alternative to prescriptive classroom curriculum. Childrenwhoareconsideredunschooled do not take tests and follow an educational plan, instead electing to pursue their unique interests and passions and learn from real-world experiences. This may include helping with household responsibilities, learning life skills, traveling, engaging with mentors, and attending elective classes related to areas and skills of interest, among other things. The theory behind the educational strategy is that children learn in a more meaningful way, are more adept at grasping concepts, and benefit more in the long run from what they're learning when they direct the subject material. The emergent concept was first described as unschooling in the 1970s by its original proponent, John Holt, an educator and advocate for homeschooling and self-directed education. The movement wasn't quick to catch on at first, but its introduction to the homeschooling community at large brought it to the attention of curious parents and created the first generation of unschooled kids. Though unschooling has grown

quite significantly in popularity since then, scientific studies to back up the veracity of Holt's claims have been few. Notably, though, the studies that have been performed point to positive outcomes for kids who engage in self-led education. One 2011 study performed by Boston College psychology professor Peter Gray, Ph.D. and educational psychologist Gina Riley, Ph.D. was particularly illuminating when it comes to handling some of the overarching practical concerns of unschooling opponents. While some worry that a lack of structure could be problematic in failing to create motivation, Gray and Riley's study revealed that, of 75 grown children of homeschooling assessed, many felt that they were more self-motivated than their peers as a result of their early ability to choose their own path. Another concern that's quick to come to the parental mind is that of higher education -- without elementary and secondary learning, will it be accessible to children? As it turns out, the answer is yes; Gray and Riley's study went on to note that 83% of the adults assessed had participated in some type of higher learning, with 44% working on or possessing a bachelor's degree. This may be due in part to the increased sense of personal responsibility the study's participants report feeling as a result of their self-directed educational experience. The importance of proper socialization in child development is an argument often used against both homeschooling and unschooling, but the study found

parents of participants reporting the experience of a rich social life filled with many people of different ages, creating broader world views and making their children more socially able. Emerging unschooling studies have gone on to reveal some surprising data in favor of unschooling. One 2014 study on child-led free play noted that when kids have the opportunity to direct their own activities, they feel less stress and anxiety, have a better understanding of their own needs, and are more resilient in stressful and anxious situations. A

Image source: happinessishereblog

2002 study on the role of play in creativity demonstrated that when one group of children was given the chance to play in a manner of their choosing before an art project, they were more creative than a second group who had been given an educational task beforehand. Finally, a secondary 2013 study by Peter Gray noted that many of the 232 respondents to his survey on unschooling families reported that their experience had brought them closer to their children and increased the quality of their sibling relationships. The face of education is changing dras-

tically in the wake of safety and ethics concerns and an evolving understanding of the fact that learning styles and educational needs vary significantly between children. Is unschooling the future of education? It's hard to say -- though the number of families embracing the practice is growing, it's still far from the norm. While the number of studies available on the outcomes of unschooling remains sparse, the increase in its popularity will likely help to create a better understanding of the impact of unschooling in the coming years.




The Austrian Ambassador on Austria-Georgia Relations



r. Arad Benkö has been the Ambassador for Austria for over three years and was the first Austrian Ambassador to Georgia. GEORGIA TODAY met him to find out more about his time here and experience. “We opened the Embassy here in Tbilisi because we have so many bilateral activities that we implement here, ranging from development aid, cultural corporation, education and business and cooperation in asylum matters,” he told us. “Politically, the aim was to have an Ambassador and an Embassy to oversee the whole spectrum of relations. Prior to that, knowledge about our activities in Georgia was less coordinated and visibility low. My aim is to get a better overview, and bring them together where appropriate. If you ask me what the most important project is, it is definitely to bring our different initiatives together, work to feel the ‘temperature’ of relations, and relay to the investors what kind of structure is working in Georgia.”

TELL US ABOUT AUSTRIAGEORGIA RELATIONS. Relations are excellent and we try to focus on business and EU approximation. Overall, we have very positive upwards trends, for instance, in 2017 and 2018, we had a 75% increase in export from Austria to Georgia and 20% from Georgia to Austria. Still, this result does not reflect the actual increasing interest by Austrian companies in the Georgian market. Like its neighbors, Georgia has some “oriental” elements of doing business and one needs to invest time, money and build personal relationships. Apart from EU aid, Austria has different programs in supporting Georgia in its transformation process and on its way to becoming part of the European

family. For example, the Austrian Development Agency has been focusing on developing agriculture, forestry and local governance since 2013 and over EUR90 mln has been granted in that time.

HOW HAVE GEORGIANAUSTRIAN RELATIONS CHANGED FOR THE BETTER SINCE YOU TOOK OFFICE AT THE EMBASSY? The most important thing was the opening of the Embassy in 2016. Austria supports many projects in Georgia, although there is not too much visibility I must admit. Traditionally, our companies are not inclined to market what they are doing. The Embassy tries to make some of it visible. Austria´s foreign policy focusses on the EU and Europe as we are a small country. Therefore, the Embassy is crucial to our relationship and to the visibility of what we are doing in this country.

ARE THERE MANY APPLICANTS FROM GEORGIA FOR THE AUSTRIAN VISA? HOW ABOUT ANNUAL VISITORS FROM AUSTRIA, AS INTEREST BETWEEN THESE TWO COUNTRIES AND CITIZENS RISES? We have seen a very strong increase in tourism: From 2017 to 2018, a 75% increase in tourism from Austria, and this year we foresee approximately the same amount. As an embassy, we try to make leisure easier for tourists. We also have a hotline and an info gathering page where the incoming tourists can share experiences. After visa liberalization for Georgian citizens took effect, there was a strong increase in direct flights from Georgia to the Schengen area. One of the first direct flights introduced was Wizzair from Kutaisi to Vienna in February. Many people took these flights and there was an increase in asylum seekers form Georgia to Austria. As a result, Vienna airport controlled more vigorously passports, the reasons for entering the country, and the cash and return tickets of passengers. As it turned out, many people did not

meet the requirements, so we had to refuse entry and send them back to Georgia. Soon afterwards, Austrian police officers were sent to Kutaisi Airport as part of Frontex in order to support the airline and Georgian officers. This was to stop potential asylum seekers already in Georgia and limit misunderstandings. Today, there are some police officers from EU member states in Kutaisi as there are more flights going to cities in the Schengen zone. Our cooperation with the Ministry of Internal Affairs is excellent in this field. The government is fully aware that visa liberalization is a great achievement which should not be lost.

ABOUT 30% OF GEORGIA’S GDP IS COMPRISED OF TOURIST SPENDING. HOW DO YOU SEE THE TOURISM SECTOR DEVELOPMENT IN GEORGIA? ARE THERE DIFFERENT BUSINESS AND ECONOMIC SECTORS YOU WOULD RECOMMEND GEORGIA ENTER AND THRIVE IN? Georgia needs to attract investors. Georgia needs an educated labor force, from, for example, the car industry, to the textile industry. We all know it’s easy to open a business in Georgia, but to maintain it is another challenge. The US, EU, the international financial institutions are doing a great job in Georgia but at the end of the day the responsibility lies with the government. In my opinion, Georgia needs to invest in education and skilled labor. Big international enterprises look for areas to produce their products in a cheaper environment, and Georgia is very attractive in this sense, but the ‘people’ are missing. The government must act on these issues and do what the State is expected to do. The reason Austria has such low unemployment is that the State is trusted and efficient and we enjoy social peace. We also have strong employment institutions that monitor where more people are needed. Georgia has started moving in this European way, the social democratic way, to find a middle road between the radical free market and healthy sup-

port from the State for citizens in employment, health or retirement schemes. Overall, the point is that Georgia must not rely on donors: it must be a Georgianled process and not led by outsiders. Georgia needs to see its own interests; it has to take what is important and to reject what is not. To be dependent on donors is always bad. Just like Israel, Georgia needs to focus on the ‘brains’, on innovations and production suitable for its geography and economy.

THERE’S A FAIR AMOUNT OF AUSTRIAN INVESTMENT IN GEORGIA. HOW ATTRACTIVE IS GEORGIA FOR AUSTRIAN INVESTORS? In the field of business, we had a very strong increase. Every year, we have business missions organized by the Austrian Chamber of Commerce. In 2016, we had nine companies participating, in 2017, 16, and 2018, 27 companies participated. So, we have an upsurge of Austrian companies wanting to enter the Georgian market. In 2019, we have two business missions. From the larger companies who are present here, Gebrüder Weiss, Doppelmayr, Rauch and Andritz Hydropower to name a few, are successful and happy here. They can afford an office here and permanent staff. But Austria is a country of SMEs, (small and medium enterprises) and we would like some of these companies in Georgia too, to make business without necessarily opening an office.

HOW WOULD YOU EVALUATE GEORGIA’S POLITICAL VECTOR TOWARDS THE EUROATLANTIC COMMUNITY AND INTEGRATION TO THE WEST? FROM THE EU PERSPECTIVE, ARE WE MAKING PROGRESS? WHAT NEEDS TO BE CHANGED TO BE MORE SUCCESSFUL? There is too much fluctuation in Georgia. In the EU, legislation is executed by civil servants who stay at their posts for 20, 30 or even 40 years! In Georgia, hierarchy is very important which makes decision-making less efficient and slower.

Like its neighbors, Georgia has some “oriental” elements of doing business and one needs to invest time, money and build personal relationships Ministerial changes should not involve disruptions. Civil servants need to be empowered to continue to work and make decisions. For example, Austria has had “only” an interim government for the last 6 months and we’re doing well. What we try to do is to support this capacity-building in the long-run; the main aim is to support Georgia to be ready to join the EU. Whether the EU will take Georgia in is another question, but the preparations must be made, so that when this window of opportunity opens up, Georgia is well-furnished and operational.

HOW DO YOU SEE THE FUTURE OF DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS BETWEEN THE TWO COUNTRIES? The diplomatic relationship is better than ever between our two countries. That was the reason we opened the Austrian Embassy here in the first place, to find many correlating interests and to act upon them. Ever since the opening of the Embassy, our political, business and even cultural relations have intensified.




NOVEMBER 26 - 28, 2019

Education, Training & Skills Key to Economic Growth, Social Cohesion & Political Stability in EU Neighborhood Countries

Image source: ETF


esare Onestini, Director of the European Training Foundation (ETF), highlighted the vital role of education, training and skills in economic growth, social cohesion and political stability in EU neighborhood countries, speaking in advance of The Power of Skills in EU External Relations, which was held in Brussels on 20 November to mark the ETF’s 25th anniversary. “Over the last 25 years, the ETF has supported over 40 countries in modernizing their education, training and labor market systems,” Onestini noted. “Thirteen of them are now members of the European Union and another seven are at different stages on the path towards EU accession. This testifies to the power of skills to create opportunities for people, underpin inclusive economic and social development and lay the foundations for stability and prosperity in the EU’s partner countries. Something that is in our interest as much as it is in theirs.” “The ETF was created in the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall to help the newly liberated countries of Central and Eastern Europe adapt to open markets and democracy,” he went on. “Now global forces of change are transforming the world we live and work in. People of all ages will need to adapt to changing professional and personal roles as they move through life. The ETF’s focus in the coming years will be on supporting countries in building joined-up lifelong learning systems.”

THE POWER OF SKILLS IN EU EXTERNAL RELATIONS To mark its 25th anniversary, the European Training Foundation hosted an event focusing on The Power of Skills in EU External Relations on 20 November in Brussels. At the start of a new legislature and with new leadership in Brussels, the ETF considered it an important time to consider the role of education

The ETF’s focus in the coming years will be on supporting countries in building joined-up lifelong learning systems and skills in the next generation of EU external relations policies and programs. The event brought together influencers and decision makers in the field of education, employment, social affairs and development at European and international level, among them Ayla Göksel, Chief Executive Officer of the Turkish NGO ‘Özyegin Social Investments,’ who delivered the keynote speech about the power of education and training in economic and social development in Turkey and 14 other countries in which the organization is active; David O’Sullivan, former Commission Secretary General and former EU Ambassador in Washington; Portuguese MEP Margarida Marques; Vice-Chair of the Committee on Budgets; and Manuela Geleng, the European Commission Director for Skills focusing on the value of education and skills in social and economic development and future implications for the EU external relations policies and programs. The European Training Foundation (ETF) is an EU Agency supporting countries in the EU neighborhood to undertake reforms in education and training and employment policies.




Georgia's Leading English Tourism Platform WHERE.ge Celebrates 3 Years of Success


eorgia's leading Englishlanguage travel guide and online platform WHERE. ge celebrated three years of success along with partners and readers with a tourism awards ceremony held at the newly opened Wyndham Grand Tbilisi. The most popular tourist destinations recommended by readers were revealed in 5 nominations established according to the sections of WHERE.ge. Among them, with an equal number of votes in the nomination “WHERE TO GO,” the following agencies were awarded: Department of Tourism and Resorts of Ajara, Georgian National Museum and National Agency of Protected Areas. As the publisher of WHERE.ge, George Sharashidze noted, the most frequently recommended tourist attractions were awarded at the ceremony, serving as great motivation for them to develop and offer more quality services to foreign

tourists traveling in Georgia. “In the summer of 2016, more than 3 years ago, when we launched Where.ge, we announced our mission to be the leading travel guide in the English language providing the most accurate and updated information for travelers from around the world and of course for expats living and working in Georgia; to make sure that the most relevant answers to questions Where to go, stay, eat, drink and buy could be found only in where. ge," Sharashidze said. "I am really happy today that we are on the right path thanks to our team, our readers and partners. "By meeting the demand for an essential travel guide about Georgia, we do our best to contribute to the development of the Georgian travel industry and to the development of the Georgian economy, as tourism plays a significant role in the development of our country,” he noted. At the ceremony, the hotel ‘Radisson

Collection Hotel Tsinandali Estate Georgia’ was awarded in the nomination WHERE TO STAY, the restaurant chain ‘Tsiskvili Group’ – in the nomination WHERE TO EAT, the wine shop chain ‘8000 Vintages’ - in the nomination WHERE TO DRINK, while the winner of the nomination WHERE TO BUY became David Kakabadze & Pokany Gallery. Sopho Gordadze, head of the Event Department of the Tsiskvili Group restaurant chain, the winner of the nomination WHERE TO EAT, noted that the Tsiskvili Group has maintained its quality for 19 years as a result of the hard work of her colleagues. "In its 19 years, the ‘Tsiskvili Group’ has maintained its quality as a result of the hard work carried out by a lot of people, so I would like to express my sincere gratitude and respect to all my colleagues," Sophie Gordadze said. The guests of the event had an oppor-

tunity to attend a mini-performance of the popular musical Welcome to Georgia, which received a special award from WHERE.ge. As director, actor and choreographer Archil Sologashvili said, he is happy to receive the award, as musical performance contributes to the development of the country’s culture and "it is a very pleasant feeling when this work is appreciated." “It was a special award that we didn't expect at all. Honestly, we are very happy because we believe we are doing a good job for our country and for our culture and it is a pleasure when this contribution is appreciated. It is a great responsibility to participate in this project. During this two-hour performance, the audience can learn more about the important features and distinctive characteristics of Georgia that we are proud of,” he said. WHERE.GE hosted the guests of the event with unique Georgian wine "Karde-

nakhi Winery N1". The event was attended by representatives of diplomatic missions, international organizations, the Government of Georgia and the travel business. WHERE.ge is the winner of the 2017 National Tourism Award in the nomination ‘Best Tourism Marketing Campaign.’ Its goal is to popularize Georgia's tourism potential around the world and to provide qualified and helpful information to tourists. WHERE, an essential guide to Georgia, is available in major hotels and restaurants, giving travelers the low down on the most famous tourist destinations throughout the country. Each section of WHERE is opened by special celebrity guests sharing their unique experience and knowledge about WHERE to Go, Stay, Eat, Drink, Buy. In addition, the travel magazine allows its readers to discover and learn some things that even their tour guide might not know.




NOVEMBER 26 - 28, 2019

75% of German Companies Affected by IT Security Incidents in 2019 Another 16% of them were likely affected by such theft. Analog social engineering was the second most common IT security incident in the German market, with 30% of companies reporting this problem.



erman companies are plagued with an increasing number of cyber-attacks and IT security incidents. According to PreciseSecurity.com research, 75% of them have been affected by some sort of IT security incident in 2019, causing total damage of €102.9 billion this year.

DIGITAL ATTACKS CAUSED TOTAL DAMAGE OF €205.7 BILLION IN TWO YEARS The 2019 statistics show that digital attacks caused damage to seven out of ten German companies. Most of them, or 25% to be precise, were exposed to password attacks. Another 23% of companies reported malware infection. Phishing took third place on the list, with 23% of German companies reporting this type of digital attack. Compared to 2017 facts, all types of digital attacks marked an increase, except malware infection. Nevertheless, data thieves were primarily interested in communication and financial data. Almost 50% of businesses reported communication data stealing in 2019, while 26% of them became victims of financial data theft. Digital attacks and IT security incidents in German companies have caused total damage of €205.7 billion within the last two years.

THE GROWING TREND OF IT SECURITY INCIDENTS The statistics show a significant increase in the number of IT security incidents among German companies during the last two years. Back in 2015, 51% of companies were affected by IT security incidents. Two years later, in 2017, the number of afflicted firms modestly increased to 53%. The 2019 survey indicates a significant increase, with 75% of companies claiming to have been affected by IT security incidents.

ONE THIRD OF COMPANIES REPORT THEFT OF IT OR COMMUNICATION DEVICES During 2019, 32% of German companies became victims of theft of IT or communication devices, making it the most ordinary type of IT security incident.

The full story can be read here: https://www. precisesecurity.com/articles/75-percent-ofgerman-companies-affected-by-it-securityincidents-in-2019

Image by Michael Kappeler/dpa via AP

#CityWithCharacter Borjomi Water Campaign Winners Revealed

tition was not limited. The only condition was to show the connection between the author and the selected city. The competition was held in two categories, "amateur" and "professional". The project was organized by IDS Borjomi Tbilisi and it is based on the com-


DS Borjomi mineral water’s #City Character campaign, a large-scale creative competition seeing Georgians creating a unique #citywithcharacter, has come to a successful close. The winners in the "professional" and "amateur" categories were identified by a jury for the competition, and IDS Borjomi Tbilisi announced Borjomi as a favorite company. In the category of "professional," Tamuna Tabatadze (Tsnori) won, while the "amateur" category was won by Anuki Gugutishvili (Gori). IDS Borjomi Tbilisi’s favorites were: Mikheil Diasamidze (Tbilisi), Giorgi Khelashvili (Rustavi), Irakli Namoradze (Tskaltubo), Ilushka Toidze (Ozurgeti), Sophie Kazaliani (Telavi) and Nino Vartapetyan (Borjomi). #CityWithCharacter was a creative competition that kicked off on September 24, the purpose of which was to show the individual nature of Georgian towns and to introduce them to a wider audience.

“It was very interesting to see how the contestants saw and felt the character of each city,” said Irina Keidia, Brand Manager of Georgian Mineral Water Borjomi. “However, in order to evaluate the work, the quality of capturing, the perfect story and the individualism in vision were important. The aim of the project was to show the different parts of Georgia with their individuality and character from the view of the contestants, as only a local resident or person with an emotional connection can feel, convey and show the character of a city from a different perspective. Georgia is truly unique with its sights, regions, and urban areas. As a human being, each town has its own unique character, which is why IDS Borjomi wanted to give everyone the opportunity to better understand and introduce to the public their town, with its history, familiar or unfamiliar. We think the project has justified itself,” she concluded. The voting committee consisted of

director Tina Kajrishvili, The Movement TV founder Anano Bakuradze, founder of Live Branding Alex Chikovani, cameraman Mindia Esadze, Palitravideo.ge editor George Giorgashvili and photographer Marie Nakani. At the awards ceremony, they talked about the importance of the competition, the criteria used in evaluation and the work of the nominees. All competition works can be checked out on the projectspecific platform www.qalaqikhasiatit. borjomi.com The #CityWithCharacter campaign was a large-scale competition that anyone living in Georgia could take part in. Contestants had to record a short video, or create a photo collage about their chosen town and use Borjomi mineral water in it. The finished videos were uploaded on the person’s Facebook and/ or Instagram page using the hashtags: #ქალაქიხასიათით (#CitywithCharacter); #Borjomi (#ბორჯომი); #დაახასიათეშენიქალაქი (#CharacterizeYourCity). Importantly, the theme of the compe-

munication platform of Georgian mineral water ‘Borjomi 2019 - you have a character! You can't hide the character!’ IDS Borjomi, with the project #CityWithCharacter, has opened the doors to Georgia and introduced a wider audience to its regions with new faces.




Inn Group - High Standard Budget Hotel Chain in Georgia



nn Group is a chain of hotels that offers visitors high-class hotel rooms at reasonable prices. We spoke with Teona Kokaia, their Deputy Director, who told us about the company's central strategy and projects that are scheduled to be implemented in the near future.


The idea goes back to my family. The city center was so overwhelmed with hotels that we wanted to bring something new to the market by designing a distinctive type of space. We decided to create a fancy hotel with a proper level of service and pricing that envisages an average segment customer. Soon enough, like-minded friends and partners put this idea into effect.

HOW MANY HOTELS DOES INN GROUP INTEGRATE? Inn Group currently operates four hotels, including: Iveria Inn, Gudauri Inn, Royal Inn and Bakuriani Inn.

At the outset, we founded Iveria Inn, which consisted of 70 rooms, but it came to be so irresistible to the public that we added 30 more on demand. Today, the hotel has 195 rooms and fully meets the standards of a high-class 4-star hotel, equipped with everything needed for a comfortable vacation. Next was Gudauri Inn. We chose Gudauri as it was the most popular place for our tourists after the capital. Given that in that period, demand in Gudauri was growing faster than supply, our decision was even more auspicious. We opened one of the most prominent hotels in Gudauri and this was reflected in the

first few days, as the hotel was fully operational three days after its opening. Due to high demand, we increased the number of rooms from the initial 60 to 93 in December 2019. The added rooms include spa rooms and conference spaces. After Gudauri, we initiated the largest project of the company in Bakuriani. This time, we went from a 4 to a 5-star hotel. The hotel complex occupies 25,000 square meters of land. The outside area is replete with cedars and green meadows; hiking and biking trails; billiards and play areas for guests; conference and meeting rooms of various sizes; several types of restaurant and lounge, and a winter garden. The hotel has 154 rooms, including 125 standard, 10 family, as well as luxurious rooms of more than 100 square meters. Our customers requested a hotel in the center of Tbilisi, but it was impossible to build a large hotel there. When we began our search for land, it turned out that the house of George Tsitsianov (Tsitsishvili) was on sale- a house that today is considered a historical monument. The building was in ruins and needed reinforcement and restoration. We decided to let the building retain its traditional appearance. As a result, on September 30, we opened a 21-room hotel that merges modern and classical styles of architecture.




Commercial Director: Iva Merabishvili Marketing Manager: Sesili Tikaradze



Editor-In-Chief: Katie Ruth Davies

Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Zaza Jgarkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze, Beka Alexishvili, Tea Mariamidze, Ana Dumbadze, Nini Dakhundaridze Photographer: Irakli Dolidze

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

Our main goal was to provide our guests with high standard hotels at affordable prices. As already mentioned, Inn Group combines 4 hotels, but in the near future we want our brand to appear in all parts of Georgia.

WHAT OTHER SERVICES DO YOUR HOTELS OFFER? Every hotel has its own charm. For example, Bakuriani Inn has a fitness room, a sauna and a pool; at the Royal Inn, you can find 19th-century Tbilisi architecture and a charming Tbilisi courtyard. In all our hotels, one can taste a wide assortment of delicious dishes and varieties of Georgian wines.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR FUTURE PLANS. In the near future we plan to add the hotel ‘Kutaisi Inn,’ which will have 120 rooms. In addition, we’ve started building apartments in Bakuriani because there was a great demand for it. We offer buyers 25-60 sq.m apartments with complete renovation, furniture and appliances. Apartment owners will benefit from a 20% discount on any of our hotel services. Holidaymakers will be able to rest in their apartments from next year onwards. These types of apartments are especially suitable for families who want to stay with their children.


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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1206 Business  

November 26 - 28, 2019

Issue #1206 Business  

November 26 - 28, 2019