The Social Enterprise Phenomenon in the Georgian Context

The Social Enterprise Phenomenon in the Georgian Context

The idea behind the «One day, one team, one chapter…» series is to present the four books published in the framework of the ICSEM Project and the Empower-SE Action, Social Enterprise in Asia, Social Enterprise in Latin America, Social Enterprise in Western Europe and Social Enterprise in Central and Eastern Europe, and to introduce the so many incredible people who took part in the crazy “ICSEM adventure”!

New actors and redefined business types facing various challenges

The chapter “The Social Enterprise Phenomenon in the Georgian Context” presents the historical context of social entrepreneurship development in Georgia, linking it with the period of trade development in the country in the 18th century. Then it outlines the Soviet era developments and the emergence of “collective farms”.

In the late 1990s, a new type of social entrepreneurship started to appear in Georgia, which mainly focused on supporting the poorer layers of society—conflict-affected and socially vulnerable people; these new initiatives were fostered by socially oriented businesses.

The chapter also examines the constraints of social enterprises operating in Georgia. It analyses the characteristics of social enterprises in Georgia in regards to EMES indicators. The arguments are supported by evidence from a survey conducted by the researcher, applying qualitative and quantitative research methods. The research findings demonstrated that inclusive businesses experience challenges related with lack of financial support, lack of supporting legislative infrastructure, gaps in skills and capacities, low level of awareness of the social entrepreneurship phenomena on the part of clients and absence of social-impact measurement.

All in all, the term “social enterprise” remains a very recent concept in Georgia. Interest in the concept was fuelled by the shift that happened in international donors’ activities. Indeed, because the country achieved middle-income status, international donors’ grant funding to NGOs started to decrease, and this led many Georgian NGOs to look for alternative funding sources; many turned to the sale of goods and services within an SE framework. Social entrepreneurship thus corresponds to dynamics which are not totally new in Georgia, but the actors involved in these activities are. One could even argue that the current development corresponds mainly to a redefinition of business types rather than to the invention of new types—which makes sense, as SE-related concepts seem to generate increasing interest among donors and can be considered as a possibility to attract additional financial resources.

To summarise, the social enterprises operating in Georgia experience the same type of constraints as enterprises in many other countries. Access to finances, enhanced skills and capacities, legislative support coupled with encouragement from general public are crucial for successful operation of inclusive businesses, thus enabling them to make larger-scale social impact.

The country team: Maya (Georgia)

Maya Giorbelidze is a senior evaluation professional with hands-on experience in monitoring and evaluation and social-impact assessment. Her expertise includes research experience in the field of social entrepreneurship, social innovation, civil society strengthening and economic engagement of vulnerable groups. Maya is a long-standing EMES member and holds a PhD from Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University.

Visit the Routledge website to get information about the “Social Enterprise in Asia” book as well as the full Social Enterprise and Social Innovation series. You can also contact these national researchers to learn more about their work or download the ICSEM Project’s flyer here.

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