Women’s economic empowerment forum in Zugdidi facilitates contacts in tourism and hospitality sectors

Date: Sunday, July 21, 2019

“We can do a lot by helping each other. Samegrelo…has all the components to make it a marketable and profitable [tourist destination],” remarked Mariam Kvrivishvili, Head of the Georgian National Tourism Administration, at the women’s economic empowerment forum in Zugdidi.

Lasha Koberidze, the representative of the Academy of the Ministry of Finance leading session on business management
Lasha Koberidze, the representative of the Academy of the Ministry of Finance leading session on business management; Photo: UN Women

Organized by UN Women and the Business Leaders’ Federation “Women for Tomorrow” on 20-21 July, the forum had a special focus on discussing women’s opportunities in the tourism and hospitality sectors. Tourism is an important factor in the Georgian economy; according to the Georgian National Tourism Administration (GNTA), it made up 7.6 per cent of the country’s GDP in 2018. At the forum, women role models who work with tourists shared their experiences and successes with the audience, while government agencies presented information on the grant programmes that women can utilize to expand their guesthouses and other businesses.

Among other topics, the forum speakers discussed the importance of quality culinary experiences and winemaking in the region – important attractions for tourists in Georgia. “Historically, we know that women have always been involved in winemaking,” noted Keto Ninidze, winemaker and hostess of Oda Family Winery in Martvili, Samegrelo. “Today, many women are interested in testing themselves and getting involved in the business.”

Representatives of the governmental agencies are introducing education and grants opportunities for the entrepreneur women
Representatives of the governmental agencies are introducing education and grants opportunities for the entrepreneur women; Photo: UN Women

The forum was also joined by a group of seven experts in photography, social media, marketing and culinary arts motivated to support women’s hospitality businesses in the region. During the forum’s consultation session, many women participants took advantage of the opportunity to create contacts and get advice from the experts on expanding their business activities. By the end of the forum’s second day, the team had already visited four women’s businesses to provide hands-on advice.

The theme of creating business linkages was also otherwise present at the forum. The real estate company m2, already a signatory of the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs), contributed to the forum’s content and provided the forum’s lunch, which highlighted the region’s women producers and provided information on the women farmers behind the products. The restaurant that catered the forum became inspired and is now including one of the female cheese producers introduced to them through the event among their suppliers.

The forum was the last of a series of three forums held by UN Women and “Women for Tomorrow” in different regions of Georgia in 2019. All forums were organized with the financial support of the Governments of Norway and the United States of America.