In December 2006, SEAF launched the $30 million Georgia Regional Development Fund (GRDF) to invest in growing and dynamic small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Republic of Georgia. In particular, GRDF focuses on businesses outside the capital of Tbilisi and those operating in tourism and agribusiness.
As was common in the region after the fall of the Soviet Union, Georgia experienced major market contractions and drops in productivity, as well as political disturbances and conflict as the country struggled through a challenging period of transition away from communism. Nevertheless, since the Rose Revolution in 2004, the country has made significant progress instituting democracy and market reforms. Against this backdrop, the Millennium Challenge Georgia (MCG), a Georgian government agency sponsored by the U.S. Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), established GRDF to promote transparent private sector development and poverty alleviation in Georgia.
Since GRDF launched, SEAF, through the fund’s local team in Georgia, has partnered with strong local entrepreneurs engaged in a variety of industries to promote domestic growth and economic independence and stability. Among other sectors, SEAF has invested in concrete production, anchovy fishing, regional hotels, hazelnut production and processing, poultry breeding, and telecommunications infrastructure.
While Georgia has faced various political and economic challenges during SEAF’s tenure in the country, it has engaged the power of ambitious entrepreneurs who, with GRDF’s risk capital investments and business partnering, have achieved growth for their companies, sustainable employment for Georgian citizens, and other positive impacts on the Georgian economy.