You can too! How the EU supports women entrepreneurs in Georgia

  • I want to start my own business, but I’m not sure my idea would work. Who can advise me?
  • I already have a business, but my biggest challenge as a businesswoman is to take it to the next step: is there any EU support available for me?
  • I’m not sure I want to start a business, but I want to learn new skills: is there something for me from the EU?
  • Are there women like me, who started their own business with EU help?
  • Whom can I ask for help?
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I want to start my own business, but I’m not sure my idea would work. Who can advise me?

The European Union is very active in supporting the development of new businesses, particularly among women and particularly in the regions of Georgia, often with a focus on rural and disadvantaged areas. So don’t think that you need to be in Tbilisi, to have a higher education or an established business in order to access EU support – on the contrary!

The EU supports a number of programmes and business support facilities that provide know how, practical help, and even funding to help you start your business.

Here are some examples:

If you are looking for support in agriculture, the ENPARD programme provides information, training, advice, and financial support all over Georgia, with hundreds of thousands of farmers benefitting since 2013. The programme provides support to NGOs working directly with communities on the ground and aims to promote diversified social and economic opportunities in rural areas, particularly for women. Find out more about ENPARD’s support for agriculture and rural development, and see the list of Local Action Groups that can support you across the country.

The Caucasus Environmental NGO Network (CENN) also implements two projects GREEN Guria, and Empowering CSOs to Promote Inclusive and Green Post-COVID Recovery in Multi-ethnic Kvemo Kartli Region that support professional development and empowerment for women in vulnerable rural communities. Check out the CENN Facebook page for opportunities.

The Mayors for Economic Growth programme supports local authorities in developing economic growth and job creation. Among the dozens of local authorities that have signed up to the initiative in Georgia, two – Kutaisi and Batumi – are running  major projects including enhanced support for entrepreneurship and innovation.

In addition, the EU4Youth programme will soon launch a series of projects aimed at enhancing youth employment and entrepreneurship, including mentoring, training programmes and apprenticeships. The previous wave of EU4Youth projects saw hundreds of skills development activities carried out in Georgia (75% of beneficiaries were women), as well as apprenticeships and internships for young people, training and grants to launch new business ideas, and the creation of three rural innovation knowledge hubs in Gori, Ninotsminda and Akhmeta. Follow the EU4Youth page for upcoming opportunities.

I already have a business, but my biggest challenge as a businesswoman is to take it to the next step: is there any EU support available for me?

If you are looking to develop your business, advice and funding are available through the EU4Business initiative, which supports private sector development across Georgia.

Specifically, the EBRD’s Women in Business programme offers loans, training and advisory services that are specifically tailored to women-led businesses. The programme works with local partners Bank of Georgia, TBC Bank and ProCredit Bank to offer dedicated financing to help women entrepreneurs, with products that specifically address the needs of women-led SMEs. Visit their website or stop by your local branch for more information. You can also meet representatives of the banks in person at the EBRD’s Women in Business seminars.

Apart from providing loans, Women in Business offers training and subsidised advisory services that are specifically tailored to women-led businesses. The programme also offers a personalised online tool – the Business Lens – to assess your business and see what kind of support you can access.

Small business loans, ranging from micro-finance to major investment loans, are also available through a number of other EU4Business programmes, working through partner banks BasisBank, ProCredit Bank, Credo Bank, MFO Crystal, and Isbank Georgia. Visit the EU4Business website for information about all the current loans and grants available to small businesses in Georgia.

Small loans (average size €14,300) are also available to the smallest businesses (less than 10 employees) in sectors such as agriculture, industry, trade and services through the European Fund for South East Europe (EFSE).

A number of grants for agricultural projects are available under the ENPARD programme. Follow UNDP Georgia on Facebook for the latest information about grants and opportunities.

Subsidised consultancy services are also available from the EBRD’s Advice for Small Businesses programme, in areas including strategy, marketing, operations, quality management, energy efficiency, financial management and more. The programme can connect SMEs to local consultants and international advisers who can help transform a huge range of businesses. The EBRD supports businesses from many industries, such as food and beverages, wholesale and retail distribution and construction and engineering. Almost 30 per cent of the projects supported are outside Tbilisi.

If you have an active social enterprise, you can also apply for support from Actio,  an impact investment fund for social enterprises in Georgia, operated and managed by the Center for Strategic Research and Development of Georgia (CSRDG). The fund was developed as a part of the EU-funded, “Collaborate For Impact” project, which aims to develop social entrepreneurship and social investment in the Eastern Partnership countries.  Actio aims at empowering social enterprises to scale up their business, as well as increase their social and environmental impact. The fund offers financial support, as well as organisational development services tailored to the needs of social enterprises, such as strategic management, finances, marketing, sales, etc. Click here for latest news and opportunities.

I’m not sure I want to start a business, but I want to learn new skills: is there something for me from the EU?

Training and skills are a key priority of EU support in Georgia, and the EU has provided considerable funding for Vocational Education and Training (VET).

The EU-funded Skills for Success project helped to set up a Youth Opportunities Online Platform – – which gathers in one place all available education, training and employment opportunities for young people, whether offered by state, NGO or international partners. The project, which ended last year and was implemented by Save the Children, also created Youth Innovation Labs in the regions, where young people are able to initiate business ideas with the support of mentors. Follow Save the Children Georgia on Facebook for information, success stories and available opportunities.

Local Hubs for Skills Development – LINKS Centres were also set up in four regions of Georgia – Adjara, Guria, Kvemo Kartli, and Shida Karltli – as a part of the ‘Local Investments in Networks for Knowledge and Skill-share (LINKS), financed and supported by the European Union, in the framework of the Skills4Jobs programme. The centres offer young people aged 15-29 a number of activities to develop market-relevant skills and competences, including digital and computer literacy, English language courses, key entrepreneurial competences, and funding of social and socially responsible start-ups.

For young women under the age of 30, the EU offers exciting opportunities under its Erasmus + youth programmes. You can join the thousands of young Georgians who have already learned new skills and developed valuable experience by participating in youth projects or volunteering for work abroad under the European Solidarity Corps.

And if you are in higher education, Erasmus + offers student exchanges and post-graduate programmes in Europe. Find out more about all the opportunities and how to apply.

Are there women like me, who started their own business with EU help?

There are more than you can imagine!

In 2022, 30,628 SMEs were supported through the EU4Business Initiative in Georgia, generating an extra €228 million in income and 24,284 new jobs, growing their turnover by 18%, and increasing their exports by 16% as a result. Almost 40% of those businesses were women-owned!

For example:

Eka Boqolishvili got support from an EU4Business project to acquire new, modern machinery for the production of traditional Georgian churchkhela meaning her company can now take big export orders and not worry about product quality any more.

Nino Ioseliani’s textile start-up Colours of Caucasus teamed up with the Georgian Apparel and Fashion Association (GAFA), established with the support of the EU4Business project, helping her business to become more competitive.

Erna Pepanyan, aged just 21, received a grant under the ENPARD programme to develop her family’s guesthouse in the in the Khrami River Gorge. She advises young women like her, who want to start a new activity but have no idea where to start, to believe in their potential, work hard, and take small steps towards success.

Tsitsi Shengelia turned her wood-carving hobby into a business and opened a creative studio with support from EU4Youth, which provided business training, mentorship and finance.

Irina Gloveli and Tekla Mamageishvili both received advisory support as part of the Women in Business programme. For Tekla, the project helped to plan the activities of her eye clinic more strategically and attract financial resources, while Irina received help to put her engineering company’s financial reporting in order, leading to a 7.5% rise in profits.

Manana Chqareuli worked from home as a seamstress. With the help of loans under the EFSE programme, she was able to upgrade her equipment, lease a proper workspace and hire staff to develop her business. Now her company is on its way to becoming a brand in its own right.

Whom can I ask for help?

For information and contacts about projects and funding opportunities supported under the EU4Business initiative, visit the EU4Business portal for Georgia. The website includes comprehensive details of loan and grant opportunities and business development services.

Follow the website for details and links to actions and opportunities across the full range of EU-funded projects, in particular its dedicated opportunities section.

For education opportunities, contact the national Erasmus + office in Georgia and for youth opportunities follow Erasmus + youth programmes on Facebook.

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