EBRD and Sweden announce new program to support Georgian women in business

Nino Zambakhidze, co-owner of the Tsnisi Dairy Plant, near the city of Akhaltsikhe.
Agenda.ge, 19 Nov 2014 - 15:52, Tbilisi,Georgia

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Government of Sweden have announced an upcoming program to support female women entrepreneurs in Georgia.

The initiative will consist of €45 million (about 100 million GEL) in credit lines to local banks for on-lending to female-led small-medium enterprises (SMEs) that launch in 2015 in six countries in Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus, including Georgia.

The program will be combined with credit enhancement, technical assistance to the partner banks and a comprehensive package of advisory support, including consulting projects, mentoring, training and networking opportunities.

"Women’s participation in business is an important element in economic growth and job creation and this potential is currently widely overlooked in many countries of the region. This programme will help to unlock the vast potential which women have in running businesses,” said Bruno Balvanera, EBRD director for the Caucasus, Moldova and Belarus.

He made this poignant point at an EBRD-led seminar on Challenges and Opportunities for Women in Business in Georgia today. The occasion took place as part of the activities of Global Entrepreneurship Week.

According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (2004), the participation rate of women in the workforce in Georgia was almost 20 percent lower than that of men.

Furthermore, employed women were often found predominantly in low-paying sectors such as healthcare, hospitality and social services. In addition, the gender pay gap was high, and less than one fifth of all employed women are self-employed.

The EBRD believed the strong combination of services provided by the Women in Business Program would serve to promote women’s entrepreneurship by boosting access to finance for female-led businesses, improving local banks’ ability to serve the female market and helping female entrepreneurs access business advice and know-how to develop their enterprises.

The Women in Business Program is part of a regional initiative that covered Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. It will be formally launched in the next few months.