The USAID program Supporting Youth and Women Entrepreneurship in Georgia (USAID YES-Georgia) supports the economic empowerment of Georgian youth and women by developing entrepreneurial skills, providing business trainings, mentoring and access to finance. The program supports beginners, as well as already operating women entrepreneurs. With limited access to knowledge, skills and finance, women are hindered from succeeding as entrepreneurs. The program tries to help women access these resources and increase self-confidence and motivation to overcome mental and cultural barriers and gender stereotypes.
USAID YES-Georgia program 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 the Financial Inclusion Organization Crystal.
USAID YES-Georgia works in a number of directions, among them the Buzz Georgia component, which represents a unique set of skills development trainings tailored to improve personal, leadership, entrepreneurial and financial skills and competences. The aim of the component is to increase women’s skills, including the soft skills necessary to plan and manage a business through a specially established mobile business service to reach out women, especially in regions and villages of Georgia.
“USAID has been working in Georgia since 1992. Since that day, the American people have provided $1.8 billion in assistance to Georgia through USAID,” notes Anna Chaus, USAID/Georgia Economic Growth Office representative. “USAID implements more than 30 programs in Georgia that contribute to Georgia’s economic growth, the development of democratic institutions, the strengthening of energy security, the improvement of the education system, and the integration of minorities and disadvantaged people, including those living along ethnic and geographical boundaries. USAID-Georgia also works to empower young people and women. One such program is USAID YES Georgia, an important component of which is Buzz Georgia, which works with women living in the regions and aims to provide 1,500 women with training and knowledge about entrepreneurship. Within this component, trainings and seminars are conducted in the field of personal development and entrepreneurial-financial education. Also, through the Buzz component, already experienced women entrepreneurs have access to business services and finances to further develop their businesses and be able to contribute to the advancement of the Georgian economy’’.
Considering the global pandemic, USAID YES-Georgia program Buzz component moved all activities including the trainings and informative meetings and discussions to online. After lifting the state regulations, Buzz Georgia moved to its normal plan to visit women in various cities and villages to raise their awareness about the program and women entrepreneurship and involve them in the Buzz training series.
The awareness-raising campaign was conducted on April 22-25, 2021, in West Georgia. The goal of the campaign was to reach out to as many women as possible in the regions and villages of Georgia to inform them about women entrepreneurship opportunities and invite them to participate in Buzz Georgia trainings and seminars that will introduce women to concepts of savings, financial planning, networking, business skills and personal development.
From April 22-25, Baghdati, Samtredia, Tskaltubo, Khoni and the surrounding villages were visited by the program staff and 18 trainers and support staff from Financial Inclusion Organization Crystal, the program partner organization. During the campaign, over 600 women were reached and 280 expressed interest in participating in Buzz Georgia trainings and shared their contact information.
“Buzz Georgia is not a project that starts and ends after some time,” said Kristine Kutateladze, Buzz Georgia project beneficiary. “The project is not over, it still supports women from different regions of Georgia who especially need support, encouragement and motivation. These women need to believe that they can manage different businesses independently. I think more women should join the project and improve their knowledge in the field of entrepreneurship.”
“We are a united team of women from all over Georgia, and we hold various actions to get more interested women to join our big family,” says Natia Letodiani, Loan Officer, Financial Inclusion Organization Crystal; Buzz Georgia trainer. “We held actions at four locations in the Imereti region, seeing a flow of interest and positivity coming out. Women love it when they are noticed and their potential is seen. We serve this very cause. The main line of our project is the economic and personal development of women and I am proud to contribute to this. The actions came out full of emotions, ladies stopped us, called us, invited us to their yards, asked us where and why we had come in the big bus, and asked us to provide more information about the training. There were also cases when men stopped us to find out the goals of Buzz Georgia and asked us to register their wives and daughters for training, which was really unexpected.”
‘’Those 5 days of the Buzz Georgia marketing campaign tour in the Imereti were filled with love, positive energy, inspiration, lessons learned, realizations and new ideas,’’ said Maya Kobalia, Head of Environmental and Social (E&S) Department from Financial Inclusion Organization Crystal. “More than 600 women we met during our tour were positively surprised to hear about the unique possibility that USAID YES-Georgia is offering them. The uniqueness of the Buzz Georgia trainings lies in the combination of off-line and online/virtual courses and in the mixture of the training modules, which covers both entrepreneurial and personal development.
“Women, especially in the regions of Georgia, are in crucial need of such development courses and even more importantly in need to the access to finance and consulting, which is offered by the financial inclusion organization Crystal in the framework of USAID YES-Georgia program. The next steps of the coming 2-3 months will be to meet those amazing women – partly virtually and partially face-to-face (as much as the global Covid-19 situation allows us) and continue strengthening them and supporting them with the Buzz Georgia above-mentioned tools.”
To date, around 700 women have participated in Buzz Georgia introductory training sessions that helped develop self-motivation, personal skills, financial skills and planning; over 160 were selected as Buzz Ambassadors to get more intensive training in various topics and participate in networking and information exchange process. The awareness-raising campaign will be followed by in-person trainings for rural women to raise their motivation and interest to initiate micro enterprises for their better economic performance and increased income. USAID YES-Georgia continues its activities to number of directions, youth entrepreneurship development and local women business support activities are among them.