DCFTA Local Advisory Council meeting was held at the office of the Young Scientists Union "Intellect" in Adjara AR.

on 26 May : 12:40

On May 24, 2018, an Adjara A/R local council meeting was held at the office of the Young Scientists Union "Intellect". The meeting was attended by 24 participants:

1. CSOs – 7
2. SMEs /Cooperatives - 12
3. Public officials / local administration representatives -  4
4. Ajara Television - 1 

The meeting Agenda covered the following issues:

- Main challenges for economic development in Ajara AR;
- Discussion of governmental initiatives (SME support, regulations/restrictions, recommendations);
- Formulation of recommendations and messages;
- Election of 2 candidates to represent LAC in the Central Advisory Council (CAC) 
 
To assist with next steps, LAC members, with help from the facilitator, discussed and identified and problems and constraining factors for prioritized sub-sectors. Participants selected two sub-sectors that received the highest number of points. These were Beekeeping (with total of 43 points) and Fish (fresh-water) farming (with total of 40 points). In the section below are provided current problems and obstacles in these sub-sectors as listed by LAC participants.  
 
Upon completion of the meeting, a Memorandum of Cooperation was introduced to attending LAC members; LAC members agreed that in the nearest days all LAC participants will sign the memorandum. Also, near the end of the LAC meeting, all attending participants anonymously filled out a post LAC survey form by which they evaluated the proceedings and results of the meeting and shared their opinion on how much the meeting met their expectations and how satisfactory and useful it was, specified the most relevant issues with regard to target sub-sector and SME development in the region, and, finally, named topics for possible discussion during future LAC meetings. (please see attached the Summary of Results of the Post-LAC Survey Questionnaire).
 
Summary of Results of Post-LAC Survey Questionnaire The participants evaluated their meeting with expectations by 4.38 points and content satisfaction level with 4.31 points (both out of a total 5 points). In the questionnaire, participants also indicated that they anticipated they would consider problematic issues that impede development of small and medium business in the region.
 
On the survey question “Did participation in LAC help you to increase your involvement in the DCFTA implementation?” 69% of participants responded “yes”; the remaining 31% responded “partly”. The participants also identified the following outstanding issues for the development of small and medium enterprises:

- Knowledge dissemination about DCFTA and new regulations;
- Existence of state support programs;
- Involvement of relevant agencies  in helping to resolve issues;
- Export-Import Issues;
- Cooperative development;
- Mediator presence.
 
In the “additional comments” section, participants indicated time discrepancy and a clear set of directions in need of discussion. Consequently, they recommended to discuss each direction in turn during future meetings and inviting experts to provide insight into the relevant direction.
 
Participants expressed considering such meetings necessary; some of them  noted that it is desirable to organize similar meetings with more intensity; some of them noted that it is desirable to prepare practical guidelines for each direction and develop specific written recommendations after meetings.

DCFTA Local Advisory Council of Mtskheta-Mtianeti Region was organized in Mtskheta

on 24 May : 11:45

On May 24, 2018, Georgian Institute of Politics (GIP) facilitated the Local Advisory Council (LAC) meeting in Mtskheta. Participants of the LAC included representatives of local civil society organizations (CSOs), SMEs and public officials of local Mayor’s offices and Sakrebulos of different municipalities of the regions as well as the staff of the Information-Consultation Centers (ICCs) operating under the Ministry of Environment and Agriculture of Georgia.  LAC meeting in Mtskheta gathered 15 participants, among them 5 representatives of CSOs, 3 SMEs and 7 Public officials.    
The LAC was organized in three sessions. During the first session, LAC members identified three sub-economic sectors for Mtskheta-Mtianeti region that the participants considered most important for region’s economic development. Sub-economic sectors included: production of non-timber forest species (NTF), handicrafts and bee-keeping. Within the second session, LAC participants discussed the major problems SMEs are facing in the respective region in terms of DCFTA implementation. Among key challenges influencing SMEs activities in the region, the LAC participants noted the lack of education and qualified workforce, the lack of funds to receive the quality certifications to export products on EU single market, the lack of necessary infrastructure and access to the internet, shortcomings of irrigation system. The final session featured a discussion about the recommendations and possible measures to address the problems existing within identified prospective economic sub-sectors.   
At the end of the meeting, LAC participants nominated 2 delegates (one civil society actor and one local entrepreneur) to represent the region at the Central Advisory Council to be held in Tbilisi.    

DCFTA Local Advisory Council in Samegrelo and Zemo Svaneti Region Took Place in Zugdidi.

on 23 May : 19:55

On May 23, 2018, in frame of the project "Georgia on European Way: Creation of Effective Model for DCFTA and SME Strategy Implementation" which is funded by European Union and is implemented in Georgia by Consortium consisting of international and Georgian organizations, there was held a Local Advisory Council (LAC) meeting in Zugdidi of Samegrelo and Zemo Svaneti region, which was organized by the Consortium member organizations – Association “Atinati” and was facilitated by ABCO. Participants of the LAC meeting included representatives of the three target groups of the region’s society – local CSOs, SMEs and Public representatives - officials of local Mayor’s offices and Sakrebulos of different municipalities of the region as well as staff of the municipal Information-Consultation Centers (ICCs) of the Ministry of Environment and Agriculture of Georgia. LAC meeting took place in the meeting hall of the Mayor’s office and local Sakrebulo in Zugdidi. Total number of 30 participants attended, including representatives of 10 CSOs, 9 Cooperatives and 11 Public sector representatives. 

According to the LAC agenda, participants aimed at accomplishing the following tasks which included: 1) Identification and prioritization of economic sub-sectors typical for Samegrelo and Zemo Svaneti region that have potential for development and for export-oriented production in frame of the DCFTA agreement between Georgia and the EU;  2) Identification of the problems and constraints which SMEs and farmers who operate in the prioritized economic sub-sectors of the region are currently facing; 3) Development of recommendations for relevant state institutions and government agencies at local and central levels, regarding possible measures to address problems and constraints existing within the prioritized sub-sectors of economy that aim at improving situation for SMEs operating within these sub-sectors. 

The event lasted approximately 4,5 hours through facilitation from ABCO’s staff and active engagement of LAC's participants. In the end, all tasks set by the agenda were successfully accomplished and recommendations of the LAC were collected for the future use for the Central Advisory Council (CAC). Additionally, attending LAC members all agreed to sign a special Memorandum stating their organizations’ willingness to cooperate with the DCFTA project and each other within the given format of the LAC. During the event, participants also nominated 2 persons from among their midst (one representing SME sector and one CSO sector) as delegates representing the region of Samegrelo and ZemoSvaneti in the CAC to be held in Tbilisi.

DCFTA Local Advisory Council of Shida Kartli Region Took Place in Gori

on 23 May : 11:45

On May 22, Georgian Institute of Politics (GIP) conducted the Local Advisory Council (LAC) in Gori. Participants of the LAC included representatives of local civil society organizations (CSOs), SMEs and public officials of local Mayors’ offices and Sakrebulos of different municipalities of the region, as well as the staff of the Information-Consultation Centers (ICCs) operating under the Ministry of Environment and Agriculture of Georgia.  LAC meeting included 23 participants, among them 7 representatives of CSOs, 3 SMEs and 13 public officials.    
The LAC included three sessions. During the first session, LAC members identified three sub-economic sectors for Shida Karti Region which have the export potential to the EU Single Market. Sub-economic sectors included: bee-keeping, wine-making, fruit growing. Within the second session, LAC participants pointed out major problems SMEs are facing in respective region in terms of DCFTA implementation. Among key challenges influencing SMEs activities in region included the lack of education and qualified workforce, the lack of necessary infrastructure and technologies, problems related to comprehensive soil diagnosis. The final session featured a discussion about the recommendations and possible measures to address the problems existing within identified prospective economic sub-sectors.   
The LAC was facilitated by the staff of the Georgian Institute of Politics (GIP). At the end of the meeting, LAC participants nominated 2 delegates (one civil society actor and one local entrepreneur) to represent the region at the CAC to be held in Tbilisi.    

DCFTA Local Advisory Council Held in Guria Region

on 22 May : 20:25

On May 22, 2018, Association of Business Consulting Organizations of Georgia (ABCO) organized and facilitated the fourth regional DCFTA Local Advisory Council (LAC) meeting, held in Guria region. LAC event took place in the regional center - Ozurgeti with the venue provided by the Ozurgeti Municipality’s Mayor’s office.    Participants of event included 25 LAC members, among whom were representatives of 9 locally based CSOs, 10 Local SMEs/Farmers and 6 persons represented local administration and state Informational-Consultation Centers (ICCs) of the Guria region.   The participants of the LAC identified through brainstorming two most prospective priority sub-sectors: tea production and hazelnut/walnut production and then discussed and developed recommendations  for the up-coming Central Advisory Council that is to take place in Tbilisi with the state administration experts responsible for the DCFTA implementation at the stat level attending.

DCFTA Local Advisory Council Held in Kutaisi, Imereti Regio.

on 21 May : 21:24

On May 21, 2018, Association of Business Consulting Organizations of Georgia (ABCO) organized and facilitated its third regional DCFTA Local Advisory Council (LAC) meeting, conducted in the region of Imereti. The event was held in the regional capital Kutaisi, in the “King David Hotel”. Total number of 28 participants attended the LAC meeting who represented all 3 target groups of the Project – CSOs (12 participants), SMEs/farmers (10 participants) and 5 participants represented local Public sector /State administration/ agencies from different municipalities of the region, including staff of the state Informational-Consultation Centers (ICCs).   LAC event, facilitated by ABCO’s facilitators, applied the methods of brainstorming, group discussions and analysis and followed the Agenda which provided for identification and prioritization of the most significant sub-sectors relevant for the local economy in the view of new perspectives provided by the DCFTA. After that, LAC members worked on identification and evaluation of specific problems and obstacles that create hindrances for sustainable development and profitable activities in the priority economic sub-sectors of the region. As a final step, LAC participants elaborated recommendations on how to address the identified problems and challenges for some of the identified sub-sectors that for Imereti region included: dried-fruit production, tea production, fruits and berries production.  The recommendations will serve as baseline for the discussion at the Central Advisory Council in Tbilisi with representatives of relevant state institutions.

DCFTA Local Advisory Council of Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti Region took place in Ambrolauri

on 19 May : 11:45

On May 18, 2018, Georgian Institute of Politics (GIP) conducted the Local Advisory Council (LAC) in Ambrolauri. Participants of the LAC included representatives of local civil society organizations (CSOs), SMEs and public officials of local Mayors’ offices and Sakrebulos of different municipalities from Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti region, as well as the staff of the Information-Consultation Centers (ICCs) operating under the Ministry of Environment and Agriculture of Georgia. LAC meeting gathered 28 participants, among them 11 representatives of SMEs, 2 CSOs, and 14 public officials. 
The LAC was organized in three sessions. During the first session, LAC members identified four sub-economic sectors for Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti region, which have the export potential to the EU single market. Sub-economic sectors included: bee-keeping, wine-making, potato planting and producing of dry fruits. Within the second session, LAC participants discussed the major problems SMEs are facing in respective region in terms of DCFTA implementation. 
Among key challenges influencing SMEs activities in the region, LAC participants mentioned difficulties to access the financial resources, including to fund acquisition of quality certifications; low volume of production, which cannot guaranty the constant supply for export; and lack of knowledge about existing EU market requirements among the local SMEs.  The final session featured a discussion about the recommendations and possible measures to address the problems existing within identified prospective economic sub-sectors. At the end of the meeting, LAC participants nominated 2 delegates (one civil society actor and one local entrepreneur) to represent the region at the Central Advisory Council to be held in Tbilisi.    

DCFTA Local Advisory Council Held in Samtskhe - Javakheti Region

on 16 May : 20:22

On May 16, 2018, Association of Business Consulting Organizations of Georgia (ABCO) organized and facilitated its second regional DCFTA Local Advisory Council (LAC) meeting, this time in Samtskhe-Javalketi region. LAC event was held in regional centre – Akhaltsikhe, at the venue of the local CSO – “Democrat Meskh’s Union”. LAC meeting was attended by total 16 members, among whom 7 represented local CSOs, 5 persons represented SMEs and farmers 4 participants represented local State administration from different municipalities of the region, including staff of the state Informational-Consultation Centers (ICCs). The participants of the LAC representing the Samtskhe - Javakheti region identified following four sub-sectors as the most prospective from the point of view of export and local development significance: cattle-breeding, potato production, beekeeping and handcraft.   The LAC members managed to assess problems and constraints within these 4 sub-sectors and then they discussed and suggested recommendations on how to address these problems and hindrances existing in prospective sub-sectors. These recommendations are meant for the meeting of the Central Advisory Council later in Tbilisi, where representatives of LACs will discuss their suggestions with experts from relevant state institutions with the aim to improve the situation in identified sub-sectors.

DCFTA Local Advisory Council Held in Telavi, Kakheti Region

on 08 May : 19:55

On May 08, 2018, Association of Business Consulting Organizations of Georgia (ABCO) organized and facilitated the first in the series of regional DCFTA Local Advisory Councils (LAC) meetings, which was held in Telavi – the regional center of the Kakheti region. The event took place at the venue provided by the Mayor’s Office of Telavi and located in the building of the Mayor’s office and local governance body Sakrebulo. Participants of the event represented target groups of local stakeholders - CSOs, SMEs/farmers as well as local public administration officials - representatives of the Mayor’s offices, economic and other relevant departments and State agencies at the municipal level including local offices of the Information-Consultation Centers (ICCs) of the Ministry of Environment Agriculture of Georgia. Total number of 16 LAC members attended the meeting, among them 8 representing CSOs, 4 persons - Business/SME sector and 4 participants represented the local administration / public sector. The participants of the LAC representing the Kakheti region identified following two sub-sectors as the most prospective from the point of view of export and local development: viticulture/viniculture and cattle-breeding. The participants have managed to discuss and suggest recommendations within these two sub-sectors, that will be tabled at the meeting of the DCFTA Central Advisory Council in Tbilisi.

CLOSED: Call for proposals for Georgian organizations to contribute to DCFTA awareness campaign

on 02 May : 13:49

Georgian civil society organizations established in regions are encouraged to apply for subgranting aimed to support activities contributing to increasing awareness about the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) among Georgian population. The subgranting is a part of the European Union supported project “Georgia on European Way: Creation of Effective Model for DCFTA and SME Strategy Implementation” implemented by EESC together with partners. Lithuanian Development Cooperation and Democracy Promotion Programme is co-funding the project.The project aims to increase and support Georgian civil society organizations’ role in raising public awareness, understanding and support for implementation of DCFTA that has entered into force between Georgia and the European Union in June, 2016. The agreement provides better-matched regulations for Georgian producers to access the European market. According to the survey executed by project implementers in Summer 2017, majority of all interviewed Georgian region-based civil society organizations - 92% - are interested in working on DCFTA-related issues. At the moment of survey only 5 % of civil society organizations identified DCFTA implementation among their fields of activity. Based on existing willingness to step up and play a bigger role in DCFTA-related issues, the project implementers via sub-granting regional civil society organizations seek to, first, enable these organizations to contribute to the on-going discussions and awareness raising about DCFTA implementation, and, second, to become active actors in their respected communities and to engage and inform the public, especially small and medium size producers about DCFTA provided opportunities.  In total 60 small sub-grants of up to 1000 Euro are expected to be distributed to civil society organizations in regions of Georgia.The sub-granting to be based on two following topics:

I.    Awareness raising about DCFTA among Georgian public;
II.   Awareness raising about DCFTA among regional small and medium enterprises and public servants.

I.    The call for awareness raising about DCFTA among Georgian public is open for regional civil society organizations interested in working within their local communities and to implement activities focused on informing and educating the general public about DCFTA and opportunities it provides for Georgia and its people. Also, informing the public about existing strategy for small and medium enterprises development in Georgia .

The organizations are encouraged to apply for funds that would allow them to execute public DCFTA communication campaign in a form of public events, for example town-hall discussions or other community gatherings involving as broad local population as possible; public product-producing activities, for example, series of articles or educational discussions on local TV and/or radio, or children painting exhibitions; or other initiatives.

Among criteria when evaluating the project proposals will be following:
-    an original idea,
-    preparing more of civil actors able to educate the public about the DCFTA in given region,
-    reachability of project activities, applicants are expected to reach as many members of local population as possible,
-    diversity of reached population, applicants are expected to reach as broad population as possible (from schoolchildren to seniors),
-    inclusion of ethnic minorities and vulnerable groups, including women and young entrepreneurs, returned migrants, internally displaced people.
A strong advantage is if applying civil society organizations has took part in the training offered by the project implementer that took place in March-April 2018 in their respective region and shared gained knowledge with their counterparts and community upon return from the training.

II.    The call for awareness raising about DCFTA among regional small and medium enterprises and public servants is open for civil society organizations interested in engaging local producers and public servants by delivering missing skills and information about DCFTA and the “SME Development Strategy of Georgia 2016-2020”. Involvement of these two target groups should variate from téte-á-téte meetings to practical learning exercises during which local producers and public servants will learn not only about DCFTA provided opportunities but would also receive practical knowledge on how Georgian producers can access the European market. Priority to be given to the projects aimed at linking small and medium enterprises with already existing mechanisms from the EU and other donors’ side, for example, EU4Business initiative, aimed at supporting Georgian producers’ exposure to the EU market.
Among criteria when evaluating the project proposals will be following:
-    an original idea,
-    activities that would not be limited to informing local producers and public servants about DCFTA and the SME strategy, but would also provide practical information and assistance that a) would enable public servants to better perform their duties when supporting local producers and those duties that fall under DCFTA implementation, and b) would assist local producers in their search for support and ways how to meet all the EU imposed production requirements and regulations in order to export into the EU, including where to look for required funding or consultative assistance that is being provided by Georgian state and international donor organizations/institutions.
-    preparing more of civil actors able to inform, assist and support small and medium enterprises and public servants,
-    reachability of project activities, applicants are expected to reach as many small and medium enterprises and public servants as possible,
-    focused reach of target groups – Georgian producers with potential to export in to the EU and to use DCFTA provided opportunities; and public servants working on economy and DCFTA-related issues;
-    inclusion of ethnic minorities and vulnerable groups, including women and young entrepreneurs, returned migrants, internally displaced people.
A strong advantage is if applying civil society organizations has took part in the training offered by the project implementer that took place in March-April 2018 in their respective region and shared gained knowledge with their counterparts and community upon return from the training.

In total 60 grants of amount up to 1000 Eur will be distributed by ensuring equal distribution within the topics I & II, as well as geographical coverage of all 9 Georgian regions and the Autonomous Republic of Adjara (at least 3 grants/ 9 regions & Adjara).

Requirements for applicants:

-    to be a registered civil society organization in Georgia
-    to be a regional civil society organization form any of 9 Georgian regions  and the Autonomous Republic of Adjara. Organizations registered and based in Tbilisi are ineligible to apply.
-    to execute project activities solely in the represented region. Applicant can execute activities in more than one region, if it chooses.
-    to demonstrate experience in executing similar activities/project.

Application procedure:
Project proposal with all required documents has to be submitted by May 31, 2018 via email at info@gip.ge .

Required documents:
-    Annex I - Project proposal in the Word Document format. Please use this template.
-    Annex II - Project budget in a free form. Please indicate all expected expenses. Please ensure to fit all project costs into amount up to 1000 Euro.
-    Organization’s registration document.
-    Organization’s financial report for the year of 2017.

In case of any questions please send your inquiries to following email: info@gip.ge .
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