© Helvetas

Strengthening Local Economies in Georgia

© Helvetas

A lot of change has happened politically and economically in Georgia in recent years. But the private sector, the public sector and civil society rarely collaborate. This makes it especially difficult for small businesses to maximize their advantages. Helvetas works to foster a local economy that is competitive, innovative and sustainable.  

  • Project Name
    Local Economic Development (LED) in Georgia
  • Project Phase
    2022 to 2026
  • Funding
    This is a mandate of the SDC.
  • Thematic focus
    Private Sector Development
    Skills, Jobs and Income

Tailor-made instead of "off-the-shelf"

Living conditions in the South Caucasus country are difficult: The unemployment rate is 11.3 percent (as of 2022) and one in five people in Georgia lives below the poverty line (also 2022), particularly in rural areas. Economic opportunities are limited, since many places in the country lack the funding for investment, training, or entrepreneurial expertise. 

In Georgia, particularly in certain regions, the infrastructure faces significant challenges. The roads are often of poor quality. The reliability of electricity and water services is a major concern, with frequent disruptions being a common issue, and internet connectivity is notably limited in mountain regions, which hinders smooth business operations. An additional issue is that essential social services such as healthcare and education are bound by centralized decision-making processes that are not adapted to local needs; what works in one place does not necessarily work everywhere. This makes it especially difficult for small businesses to maximize their advantages, such as quick decision-making, local job creation and flexibility. 

Helvetas supports local communities to create economic plans that address these challenges head-on, fostering sustainable development and promoting tailored solutions that empower individuals and businesses alike. 

More digital, greener and above all: more local

Agriculture, tourism and infrastructure have a lot of development potential to become more digital, as well as more environmentally friendly. Therefore, the focus in these areas is on low-carbon technologies, renewable energies, environmentally friendly construction practices, sustainable agriculture, efficient supply chains and the development of new environmental sectors. To this end, Helvetas supports the private sector through business innovation competitions and hackathons, as well as by fostering networking, collaboration, knowledge sharing, joint activity development, and the transfer of innovative ideas and technology. 

Helvetas also works with local vocational training institutions, apprenticeship programs and universities and supports them in incorporating innovation, digitalization and sustainable growth into their training courses.   

We also mediate between interest groups from the private sector, the public sector and civil society to strengthen their cooperation. Helvetas focuses on improving the effectiveness of institutional mechanisms, ensuring that existing policies and regulations follow a decentralization process that is more responsive to business needs. This will be achieved through participatory processes such as forums, dialogues, conferences and workshops. 

Focus and scope

The project starts in ten municipalities across Georgia and will later be extended to others. It is financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and implemented by Helvetas and the international consultancy company WINS Global Consult.  

© Helvetas / Arben Llapashtica
Armenia, Albania, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Georgia, Kosovo, Moldova, North Macedonia, Serbia, Ukraine, Montenegro

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