BAKU, Azerbaijan, April 28. A two-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Visa and Georgia is aimed to foster cooperation with the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development establishing a collaborative framework, Senior Director, Visa Country Manager for Caucasus Region Diana Kiguradze told Trend in an exclusive interview.
According to Kiguradze, the cooperation within the MoU will focus on the support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), local and international tourism promotion, boost innovative technologies development, and promote economic and financial inclusion in Georgia.
Kiguradze said that one of the main directions of cooperation between Visa and Georgia within the MoU is to activate a global educational digital platform.
“Visa is going to assist Georgia’s businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic by offering joint educational programs, such as launching Visa Business Skills platform in cooperation with Enterprise Georgia state program, and accelerate digitization process,” the country manager said.
Visa’s global educational digital platform - Practical Business Skills (PBS) offers more than 50 online training modules to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), enabling them to receive information, improve business management skills, and increase financial literacy, she explained.
She noted that Visa is willing to explore new opportunities to deepen the partnership between Visa and Enterprise Georgia even more.
Further speaking, Kiguradze said that Visa plans to promote local tourism and increase the number of local and international travelers through joint activities. The country manager noted that, within the partnership, Visa aspires to achieve a long-term positive effect by endorsing national cultural heritage and promoting the country as one of the world’s best destinations.
“Visa will be sharing specific data with the Ministry, including deep analysis of travelers’ patterns. The designed framework will enable effective tourist traffic stimulation, and help identify soft spots,” she said.
Among other Visa initiatives in Georgia is the “She’s next” global campaign that became one of the most successful projects across the region. Visa has conducted free online educational masterclasses for women entrepreneurs with Visa speakers, brand experts, and successful businesswomen within the initiative.
Also, the contest was held for female entrepreneurs featuring our partner organizations – “Women for Tomorrow” Business Leaders’ Federation and Forbes Woman Georgia. According to the country manager, the campaign launched in 2019 in the US has already brought together up to 2,000 women in Georgia with a potential for further network expansion.
“Visa follows the modern trends closely, according to which - we give equal opportunities to all members of the society - regardless of race, gender, age, skin color or other traits,” Kiguradze said.
Meanwhile, Visa continued to raise awareness of innovations and introduce successful businesses in Georgia, the country manager added.
“In this respect, along with Forbes Georgia - we have created a podcast series on driving innovations in Georgia to discuss startup ecosystem and innovation trends in the country featuring representatives of startups, Visa experts, fintech companies and key financial sector representatives,” Kiguradze said.
She also noted that Georgia is among the leaders in the world in terms of contactless payments. Some nine out of ten payments in the country are made by non-contact technology through Visa cards.
“Georgia retains a strong position in terms of openness to innovations in the country. Georgia chose the way to development, digitization, cashless economy a very long time ago. At Visa, we witness that our small region has big potential to drive innovative technologies,” the country manager said.
Kiguradze noted that over the last two years, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Georgia’s business was able to transform digitally. Businesses have moved online, brand strategies were adapted to the new realities, and in general, the demand for digitalization has increased, and the area of non-contact payment functionality has expanded.
In this context, the pandemic enabled Visa to create more opportunities to facilitate money movement, support, and boost small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as the driving force of Georgia’s economy, Kiguradze said.
“We have helped to smooth the online transformation process by launching a global campaign - Where You Shop Matters. Through this promotion, we supported local businesses to operate and sell the products in a nonstop regime,” she added.
By introducing innovative technologies and improving the financial ecosystem, Visa will create a healthier competitive environment, which is crucial for businesses to overcome the existing barriers and challenges so to the pandemic, Kiguradze said.
The signing of the memorandum truly marked the creation of an important collaborative platform for Visa as Georgia aims for further development of the national economy, boosting the business ecosystem and financial players in the country, she added.
“We will continue bringing innovation and technology development to Georgia, strengthening products, supporting small and medium-sized businesses, empowering women, working closely with financial institutions, fintech companies, banks, regulators, and a growing number of business partner companies,” Visa country manager concluded.
Follow the author on Twitter: @mariiiakhm