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Path to Prosperity

By Salome Modebadze
Monday, November 2
The US Agency for International Development hosted the opening of four new businesses in the new IDP settlement of Tserovani on October 28. Four out of 13 applicants met the criteria set by the evaluation committee of USAID’s Small and Medium Enterprises Support Project and received grants to start new businesses and employ IDPs.

The SME Support Project supported by USAID is a four-year program designed to increase the rate of development and growth of small and medium-sized enterprises and create new jobs for Georgian citizens. USAID has provided $180,000 in start-up funding for businesses that will ensure employment opportunities and the provision of essential goods and services to the residents of Tserovani. The four new businesses are Tserovani Bread Bakery; Kheoba Chicken, a poultry farm; Tserovani Service Centre and the Cement Tile Micro Enterprise which produces standard and decorative tiles.

Jock Conly, Mission Director of USAID/Caucasus, expressed his satisfaction with the projects and thanked the businessmen for their work. “I wasn’t in Georgia last year and I can’t imagine all the misfortune these people experienced but I know there has been a lot of struggle and a big effort has been made for the people of Georgia by the Government of Georgia to build this community. This settlement has a very short history but we hope it has a great future,” Jock Conly stated at the newly opened Bread Bakery.

Conly added that creating jobs for the residents of the IDP settlements was identified as a priority. “I’m very pleased that the US Government has been able to make a contribution by giving humanitarian assistance and helping build a new private sector economy in the settlement. The new businesses in Tserovani will ensure a successful economic future for the region,” he stated.

Koba Subeliani, Minister for Refugees and Resettlement, thanked the US Government, the US Embassy and all the international organizations which had cooperated with the Georgian Government to overcome the postwar difficulties in the country. “Last year everyone around doubted and criticized us. They wondered what all these IDPs could do, where they could live, but we have done lots of things together. Life goes on. The potential for further development is so high that we suppose in a year this settlement will become one of the best, as it is situated near Tbilisi, it has some trade and business connections and what’s more each family has land plot to grow things on,” Subeliani stated.

Avtandil Kochishvili, Chairman of the Akhalgori Council, emphasized the importance of support from businessmen and stressed that local authorities will still do everything they can to solve the problems of the IDPs with them. He admitted that their main problem is employment and the new businesses opened in Tserovani have been of great help.

Giorgi Gigauri, one of the bakers, and Nino Kakhniashvili, the yard-keeper at the Tserovani Bakery, expressed their gratitude to the Government and USAID for their assistance and support. Gela Zoziashvili, owner of Kheoba Chicken, spoke about the despair which he used to feel as an IDP from Tskhinvali. He emphasized the importance of external support and thanked USAID for giving him the chance to start his business. “I have received a grant of USD 20,000 and found a good partner who has given me an opportunity to build a chicken farm on his lot. Today I plan to expand my business,” Zoziashvili stated.

The guests at the presentation were able to view all the Tserovani Projects. Kristo Kakhniashvili showed them his Service Centre, which is equipped with modern facilities and goods which will give Tserovani residents the opportunity to take computer classes or do repairs. The Cement Tile Micro Enterprise was also very interesting and impressive and the guests as well as the organizers thanked the IDPs for their desire and trust.