USAID/Georgia Economic Growth Office on the USAID YES Program

The USAID YES-Georgia program (full name “Supporting Youth and Women Entrepreneurship in Georgia”) is implemented by Crystal Fund with financial support from the American people through USAID and the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Initiative. Additional financial support is provided by JSC MFO Crystal. The program supports Georgia’s economic development and the strengthening of Georgian youth and women by encouraging innovation, promoting entrepreneurship, and enhancing employability. The program operates both in Tbilisi and in the regions, targeting youth (16-28 years old) and women (28 years and above), who have business start-up ideas or already operate a business and need to enhance their enterprise through skills development, access to finance and business services.

Starting in 2021, the USAID YES-Georgia program will be focused purely on women entrepreneurs (both emerging and existing) and will support their professional development by turning their existing enterprises into higher-revenue businesses.

USAID YES-Georgia topics and activities include access to finance and business services, enterprise skills development, business trainings, mentorship and coaching, confidence building, awareness raising and many more, which are extremely necessary for successful management of a start-up enterprise.

Speaking to GEORGIA TODAY about USAID and its mission in Georgia, Marika Olson, Director of USAID’s Economic Growth Office in Georgia told us of USAID Georgia’s wide-ranging portfolio of economic development assistance, focused on creating high value employment opportunities across the country.

“By partnering with the Government of Georgia, entrepreneurs, business associations, and enterprises of all sizes, Georgian and international, we’re here to help Georgia achieve the kind of economic growth that benefits its people, families, and communities,” Olson says. “For us, that means supporting the creation and development of high value employment sectors, diversifying markets and trade sectors, and supporting Georgia in fulfilling its commitments under the EU Association Agreement, alongside helping to build a stronger democracy where citizens have opportunities to participate in the political process, and where elected officials are more responsive and accountable to the people they represent.

“USAID has more than 30 programs. In addition to economic growth, we support elections and political processes, good governance, civil society development, and social inclusion. As Georgian society has made strides and become more self-reliant, we’ve shifted our programs from humanitarian aid to a more forward-looking approach - helping consolidate democratic institutions, integrating Georgia’s economy into international markets, and helping the country move closer to its European partners.”

Anna Chaus, USAID/Georgia Economic Growth Office representative, manages the USAID YES-Georgia program. Of the many USAID projects, she highlighted in particular the Young Entrepreneur’s School and BUZZ-Georgia components.

“The Young Entrepreneur’s School was created years ago within the framework of the program. The schools run trainings in seven locations of Georgia (Tbilisi, Telavi, Gori, Akhaltsikhe, Kutaisi, Zugdidi and Batumi) and aims to support youth and women’s entrepreneurship development, and the capacity building of youth-led small enterprises, through innovative forms of access to finance, knowledge and expertise,” she tells us.

Anna Chaus, project management assistant in USAID/Georgia's Economic Growth Office

“The BUZZ-Georgia component targets women in the remote regions of Georgia. It aims to reach out to 1,500 women and introduce them to concepts of savings, financial planning, networking, business skills and personal development, which is essential for Georgia’s economic development.”

We asked Anna to tell us about main results of the program, its successes, goals and objectives.

The USAID YES-Georgia program was launched in 2015. Since then, it has supported more than 4,000 young entrepreneurs and professionals, and providing professional skills training to nearly 1,600 youth. Besides this, the program assisted more than 300 young people to draft business proposals and apply for financing. The most successful 78 young people already received financing and launched their own enterprises.

It’s a huge success that last year the USAID YES-Georgia program was chosen by the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Initiative, a White House led fund to empower women around the world. The program thus expanded its focus on supporting women, launching new activities designed to meet the needs of women entrepreneurs.

The objective of the USAID YES-Georgia program is to increase the number of women who become and succeed as entrepreneurs. Thus, the main goal of the program is to provide more than 2,500 women with business management training, access to legal and accounting services, and mentoring and networking opportunities, by 2024. As I already mentioned, the program operates not only in Tbilisi, but also in the regions and thus aims to reach and positively affect around 100,000 women and girls in various regions of Georgia through media campaigns, social networking, events and other activities. The program’s enterprise-driven goals support USAID’s broader goals in Georgia, specifically private sector engagement and support for self-reliance.

How can people register for the Young Entrepreneur’s School trainings?

The Young Entrepreneur’s Schools professional skills development trainings are held twice a year. The next round of trainings will start this September. The call for applications will be officially announced on the USAID/Georgia Facebook page ( and Young Entrepreneur’s School Facebook page (, on and, etc. Public announcements will be made through various radio stations and TV channels. Given the fact that these trainings are free of charge and provide participants with excellent enterprise development skills, I would encourage all interested young people to register for these trainings, obtain entrepreneurship knowledge as well as expertise, and become successful, prominent entrepreneurs.

“In the end, all of our work comes down to supporting the stable economic base which allows Georgia and its people to thrive,” Marika Olson tells us. “An economy which values its workers, provides high-value, fulfilling job opportunities, ensures the freedom to innovate, and encourages investment in its future. COVID-19 may slow us down, but it will not stop our commitment to Georgia, and it certainly won’t stop the people of Georgia from attaining a brighter tomorrow.”

Main photo: Marika Olson, director of USAID/Georgia's Economic Growth Office

06 August 2020 18:18