On 14 September, the final conference of the ‘Social entrepreneurship in Armenia and Georgia’ project, financed by the European Union under the EU4Youth programme, was held at the Biltmore Hotel, Tbilisi.
During the course of the 33-month project, the European Union supported young social entrepreneurs living in the border regions of Armenia and Georgia to engage in various professional training sessions, receive fully-fledged individual mentoring, familiarise themselves with foreign practices and establish sustainable, social mission-driven enterprises.
A total of 36 enterprises received EU funding under the project: 12 in Georgia (in Kakheti, Kvemo Kartli and Samtskhe-Javakheti regions) and 24 in Armenia (in Lori, Tavush and Shirak regions). With the support of the project, about 1,200 young people had the opportunity to engage in social entrepreneurship, business planning, finance, digital marketing, gender, leadership, fundraising and other trainings.
Addressing the closing conference, Ms. Sigrid Brettel, Head of cooperation at the EU Delegation to Georgia, spoke about the project and the importance of promoting youth development:
“The involvement of donor organisations in promoting youth development is crucial, as we believe that an investment in youth empowerment is actually an investment in the future and will have a long-lasting, positive impact on society. The youth unemployment rate in the country is around 30%, which once again underlines the importance of this project. The European Union, with its current programmes, EU4Youth, Skills4Jobs, Erasmus+, tries its best to promote youth employment. At the same time, it is necessary to ensure the support of the state by bringing the strategic and action plan for the development of the youth sector closer to the practice of the European Union.”
The conference included a panel discussion around the future of youth entrepreneurship in Georgia and Armenia, was led by representatives of the Youth Agency, non-governmental organisations Mercy Corps and Development Principles, the Association of Business Consulting Organisations in Georgia (ABCO), the Institute of Civil Society, and the Social Enterprises Alliance Georgia.
“I am very happy with the results we achieved through EU support in Armenia and Georgia within the project. The success stories of young social entrepreneurs announced today clearly show the great contribution that the project has made to the development of each entrepreneur and the region itself. The social impact created through the SEAG project in six cross-border regions is quite visible and I believe that its scope will increase over time,” said Giga Sarukhanishvili, SEAG project director.
Guests had the opportunity to get to know the beneficiaries of the SEAG project from Georgia and Armenia and to hear their success stories, as well as to familiarise themselves with the products of their social enterprise in a specially arranged exhibition space. Among the guests invited to the final conference were representatives of the European Union, representatives of central, regional and local authorities, donor agencies, international and local non-governmental organisations, young beneficiaries of the SEAG project and other social entrepreneurs from Georgia and Armenia.
“The European Union and the organisations implementing the project gave me the opportunity to fulfill my childhood dream and open an atelier in the city of Marneuli, where I employ women from the ethnic minority. In the future, I would like to inform as many people as possible about social entrepreneurship, show its advantages and support the opening of new enterprises,” said Giuljakhan Adjalova, one of the beneficiaries of the SEAG project.
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