The Government of Georgia launched on March 12 a small grants program for enhancing economic exchanges between residents of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia and the rest of Georgia.
The new initiative, dubbed as Produce for a Better Future, was developed within Tbilisi’s earlier-announced peace plan – A Step to A Better Future – and will be administered by the Government’s “Produce in Georgia” program.
The program will allocate grants amounting to GEL 7 000, 15 000, 20 000 and 35 000 to individuals and companies planning to carry out business activities inside the occupied regions or to undertake joint business projects across the dividing line, provided that they act in line with the Georgian legislation. More specifically:
- A beneficiary living and doing business in the occupied territories will be eligible to receive a grant worth up to GEL 7 000;
- Up to GEL 15 000 will be available to a group of two beneficiaries with one of them living or doing business in the occupied region;
- Up to GEL 20 000 will be available to a group of three beneficiaries with at least one of them living or doing business on the Tbilisi-controlled territory;
- Up to GEL 35 000 will be granted to a group of four or more persons with at least one of them living or doing business on the Tbilisi-controlled territory.
Applicants will be able to submit their business plans in Georgian and Abkhaz (English and Russian forms will be available later). Applications will be processed by the Produce in Georgia program, in cooperation with the Ministry of Reconciliation.
Speaking at a press briefing on March 12, Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze said the new grants scheme is “unprecedented,” and that the authorities hope it “will open up additional opportunities for closer people-to-people exchanges across the dividing line, as well as for joint business activities.”
Reconciliation Minister Ketevan Tsikhelashvili spoke on the program as well, saying the objective is to improve “the very dire economic conditions” facing those living inside Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions and near occupied areas.
“There are social, economic and humanitarian challenges; the program will promote cooperation based on common interest and will contribute to building confidence, which is essential for any peace process,” she noted.