CSR efforts can grow under even challenging circumstances. This was true when I visited Belarus and my recent visit to Georgia proved it again. A country that’s experienced the first European war in recent time and continually is being bullied by Russia while the international community in many cases turns a blind eye as Georgia’s territory is annexed. It’s also a country that’s still trying to cope with a challenging economic situation where pockets of the population still live under the poverty line (A recently published report by The International Red Cross “A Welfare Barometer” found that an estimated 2% of children in Georgia live for less than 1,5 USD a day).
The will to succeed
Georgian history has taught us, that Georgians have the will and persistency to succeed through difficult times. I had the great pleasure of being invited by CSRDG (a non-profit working across sectors to strengthen CSR in Georgia) to do a keynote and a master class for a selection of companies in Georgia like Bank of Georgia and Wissol (a petroleum company operating within many different sectors like restaurants). There was an appetite for the topic and the national broadcaster covered the seminar. The event was sold out with more than 500 people on the waiting list and +800 people decided to watch the live stream. Social issues and widespread garbage problems were high on the agenda and it was a great experience to spend face-to-face time with both Georgian companies and agencies in the master class. I was reminded that change begins with individuals in companies, who want to lead and drive the agenda. Long live intrapreneurs!
Embraced by warmth & hospitality in a captivating natural landscape packed with history
The organization had also arranged an exciting social program for my stay. First day a lecturer from Georgian American University, David Jishkariani, showed me around in Tbilisi sharing its rich cultural and architectural history and the importance of preserving the heritage. I was truly impressed by the many old beautiful neighborhoods and buildings, but unfortunately many of them are not well-kept and giving way to skyscrapers and apartment blocks.
I also had an amazing trip to the countryside seeing a Russian erected pole marking the division line between Europe and Asia, the first ever tractor arriving from Russia to modernize the agriculture and the church and its saint marking the arrival of Christianity to Georgia in the 4th century. We also went to the breath-taking city of Signagi that’s still surrounded by a city wall and offers an impressive view of the Caucasus Mountains lining up in the horizon as a natural wall towards Russia.
The Georgian Mediterranean dominated-cuisine impressed me. We went for a wine tasting and lunch at Pheasant’s Tears offering organic, free range food and great tasting single-grape organic wine made the traditional way in clay pots sealed with bee wax. Georgia has more than 500 grape varieties impressive for the size of the country. In general the Georgian landscape is unspoiled and captivating and I was charmed by the Georgians incredible hospitality and it was great to experience that English is widely spoken. I hope to say gamarjoba (Hello in Georgian) again soon!