Georgia Economic Prosperity Initiative
The goal of EPI is to improve enterprise, industry, and country-level competitiveness by identifying and targeting key external and internal factors to enhance the growth rates and productivity of enterprises in the economy, thereby enhancing the economic well-being of workers in the economy. EPI is being implemented through the following components:
- Expand and Deepen Georgia’s Economic Governance Capacity and Country-Level Competitiveness
- Improve the Competitiveness of Agriculture Sector
- Improve the Competitiveness of Targeted Manufacturing and Service Sectors
J.E. Austin Associates, Inc. (JAA) is responsible for the selection, analysis, and implementation for the manufacturing and service value chains, and oversaw the sector selection process for the agricultural value chains. First, JAA conducted a sector assessment which included the apparel, construction materials, education tourism, film and TV, logging and timber, pharmaceutical, renewable energy, tourism, information and communications technology (ICT), logistics and transport, and packaging sectors. The assessment looked at international and domestic market trends and growth potential, skills and capacities, market constraints, resources and inputs, and potential SME linkages. The sector assessment report was delivered to and accepted by USAID and the Government of Georgia. From this assessment, three sectors were chosen to move to the next phase, which was value chain selection. The three sectors chosen were tourism, apparel, and construction materials. The ICT, logistics and transport, paper packaging, and business support services sectors are considered crosscutting and are part of the selected value chain interventions.
In the value chain selection phase, JAA looked at potential value chains for project intervention within these sectors. Each value chain was assessed in terms of its 1) competitiveness potential; 2) impact on the economy and beneficiaries; 3) quality of leadership (within the value chain); and 4) synergies with other value chains, cross-cutting themes, and other aspects of importance to EPI’s objectives. The value chain assessment report was delivered to and accepted by USAID and the Government of Georgia. The value chains with which the project is currently working are apparel, meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) tourism, and wine tourism.
In the apparel sector, one company, Miller and Company, completed its first export of products, valued at USD 21,000, to Unitex in Turkey and will export another USD 56,000 of exports to Kardem Tekstil (also in Turkey) in the near future. This is in addition to the USD 23,270 in exports from three companies from orders facilitated by EPI. The project is currently working with the beneficiaries to bring them in line with international health, safety, and environmental (HSE) standards through Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) certification. The beneficiaries expressed interest in this certification after learning of the importance of HSE standards to European and other clients after attending a trade fair in Kiev, Ukraine.
In transport and logistics, the project is currently carrying out a pre-feasibility study for an agriculture hub near Tbilisi. This hub would be a central transport and market location for Georgia’s agriculture products. In transport and logistics project beneficiaries in the first year of the project, employment increased by 20%, there was USD 9 million of local direct investment, and revenue increased by 30%.
In ICT, the project is supporting the government in e-ID applications, which is part of the e-ID card initiative. E-ID cards will allow businesses and citizens to streamline daily activities by storing information on each person’s e-ID card. The project also conducted first survey of Georgian ICT firms to gather information such as employees, revenue, products, future plans, etc. Information used in trade fairs and as market information for local firms. In ICT project beneficiaries in the first year of the project, revenues increased by 30%, employment increased by 40%, and there was USD 3 million in investment.
In MICE tourism, EPI has been conducting workshops for destination management companies, travel agencies, hotels, event management companies, and government bodies to provide them with advice on MICE tourism business development best practices.