Georgia lies at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. In the last decade, an armed conflict with Russia took a severe toll on its economy and forced many people out of their homes. Today, the majority of people still work in agriculture, even though it only accounts for a small (and shrinking) part of the country's GDP. As a result, more than 20% of the population lives below the poverty line.
With 40 locations throughout the country, FINCA Georgia serves over 100,000 clients, largely in rural areas. As a regulated bank, FINCA offers its customers a wide range of credit, money transfers and savings services, all of which have been certified as client-friendly by the Smart Campaign.
Reaching the Financially Excluded
In terms of financial inclusion, Georgia fares better than most of the other countries of this region. However, over 60% of adults still lack access to banking services. Poverty and financial exclusion are especially prevalent in rural areas, where two-thirds of FINCA's borrowers reside. These customers take advantage of FINCA's crop and livestock loans to improve their farm production, or they may use a small business loan to diversify their income.
Quality of Life
Living standards for our clients in Georgia are similar to those found in neighboring Armenia, even though Georgia's clients have a more rural profile. Almost all breadwinners have at least some secondary education and home-ownership is the norm.
Housing size and quality, however, are still issues for many borrowers. Families often need to expand their living space to accommodate multiple generations under one roof. And while water is abundant in Georgia, nearly 20% of FINCA's borrowers live in homes without this vital service.
Income & Employment
Income & Employment
Loans from FINCA Georgia enable our clients to nearly double the employment in their businesses. Almost 90,000 people are working in FINCA-funded enterprises, averaging 1.68 jobs per business. According to our customers, about half of total employment is directly due to the FINCA loan. Most wage-earners in our clients’ enterprises are earning salaries above the poverty line.
Crops and manufacturing, which occupy about a third of our borrowers, generate the most employment overall. However, the direct impact of FINCA's loan is highest in the trading sector, which is very cash-flow dependent.
Women in Georgia are using FINCA's loans mainly to run their own businesses. About 40% of the enterprises we surveyed were run by women. Their businesses' job-creation is slightly behind men, because they are marginally more concentrated in sectors such as trade and services, which employ fewer people.
Not all women are prepared to run a business — many simply need a job to supplement their family's income. FINCA-funded businesses in Georgia are creating a lot of jobs for women — more than any other place we've studied. Women make up the majority (60%) of the people employed in our clients' enterprises. Out of 1.68 people working in an average business, 1 is a woman. This extra income can significantly enhance a family's budget and give women more authority in their households.
Attaining Business and Personal Goals
The primary goal for 38% of FINCA clients in Georgia is to expand an existing business. The next-highest priority is to improve their homes (12%). Surprisingly, a considerable share of our clients (35.7%) did not cite any goal in particular.
About 68% percent of all borrowers are confident that FINCA’s loans will (or did) help them achieve their goals. This response was particularly common among those clients whose primary goals were related to business, education and home improvement.