On October 2nd, ISET was visited by representatives of FMO, the Dutch Entrepreneurial Bank, who came to talk about the Bank’s activities and its investments in Georgia. Mr. Jan-Willem Hoek, Investment Officer, and Ms. Naomi Campbell, Environmental & Social Officer, gave a presentation entitled ‘Doing Makes The Difference’, and explained the Bank’s commitment to global development and humanitarian outcomes.

In Georgia, FMO has partnered with TBC Bank to finance young entrepreneurs running micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as retail customers requiring a mortgage. FMO’s own financing is split between the Netherlands’ major banks and the Dutch Government; along with its partners in TBC, the Bank cooperates closely with the Dutch Embassy in Georgia, and so Her Excellency Loes Lammerts, the Deputy Head of the Embassy of the Netherlands, also attended.

That Georgia is making strident progress on a variety of international indices is widely reported in the domestic press, but many Georgians may still view claims of their country ranking highly on global lists of safety and economic freedom with a degree of skepticism; after all, the average wage remains low, and there are few opportunities outside of the capital.

It is, therefore, enlightening to hear exactly how Georgia is making progress first-hand from experts. On Friday June 28, representatives of the Heritage Foundation visited ISET to present the findings of the organization’s 2019 Index of Economic Freedom. The Heritage Foundation is an influential Washington-based think tank that came to prominence during the Reagan Administration of the 1980s, and remains one of the most influential research institutions in the United States. Along with its economic interests, the Foundation also reviews government policies and budgetary activities.

On June 12, ISET hosted Kinan Bahnassi of the International Labor Organization, one of several UN-affiliated bodies active in Georgia. Mr. Bahnassi treated the audience of students, staff and faculty to an interesting, perceptive and rather creative presentation.

Mr. Bahnassi began by explaining that although the ILO presence in Georgia is comparatively small compared to other organizations, it has had a significant impact in the country. He drew particular attention to the lack of a national labor code, and the fact that many people working in the country (particularly those in manual jobs) face hazardous conditions. This issue is particularly poignant for Georgians, since loss of life in the building industry and mining is – while not common – still too much of a regular occurrence. However, thanks to the ILO’s efforts, health and safety standards on construction sites will be introduced later this year, with appropriate attire and helmets becoming mandatory.

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