DFC builds upon investment history in Georgia with new projects addressing current challenges
For more than 30 years, the United States has worked to create and maintain strong diplomatic and economic relations with Georgia. DFC’s predecessors, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Development Credit Authority (DCA) were among the first development finance institutions to invest in newly independent states following the fall of the Soviet Union. DFC continues to advance development in the region through investments in agriculture, financial services, and infrastructure projects such as the Port of Poti on Georgia’s Black Sea coast.
Last month, a DFC team including Chief Development Officer Andrew Herscowitz and Kenneth Angell, Managing Director of Project Finance, traveled to Tbilisi, Georgia to highlight some DFC-supported projects and meet with regional leaders. During the trip, DFC signed two new loan agreements with Georgian businesses for logistics and infrastructure projects and explored ways that DFC’s new technical assistance tool could further build on its impact in the region.
At the America Georgia Business Council’s 25th annual conference, CDO Herscowitz and Mr. Angell joined government officials, Georgian and global business leaders, and regional development experts in a series of panels and presentations highlighting the 30 years of successful American-Georgian partnerships. Herscowitz emphasized DFC’s commitment to development impact in all the projects it supports.
“We make sure that our financing is benefiting all the people in the country. It’s not just supporting the business owners but making sure that every deal is structured to have a development impact on people who work for those businesses. . .” said Herscowitz.
The conference also featured a signing ceremony for a new DFC investment to support the further expansion of the Port of Poti, which has been a key hub of food and fertilizer moving from Central Asia to markets in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Europe.
In collaboration with USAID, DFC has formulated innovative solutions to meet the changing needs of the region. DFC’s $15 million loan portfolio guaranty to Bank Lviv will support lending to thousands of Ukrainian micro, small, and medium enterprises (SMEs), including many farm and rural enterprises that struggle to access financing.
DFC has also supported two transactions to address the surge of refugees in neighboring countries. A DFC technical assistance grant is helping the state-of-the-art American Hospital Tbilisi provide outpatient care and surgical services to Ukrainians temporarily living in Georgia.
Over $1.5 million in DFC technical assistance and grant funds have gone to support Gazelle Finance’s Ukraine Bridge Facility. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Gazelle Finance helped many SMEs expand and cover operating expenses, creating 222 jobs and mobilizing $5.6 million in new private sector investments. Their new economic recovery facility will offer safety and support to displaced Ukrainian workers and firms that have relocated or expanded their businesses to Georgia as a result of the war.
USAID and DFC are also working together to pave the way for future investment opportunities — notably in renewable energy development — and look forward to supporting the launch of Georgia’s recently-announced renewable energy investment plan in 2023. The plan hopes to incentivize investment in the energy sector by offering up to 15 years of government support for new power plant projects.
“There’s tremendous potential in this country for clean energy. Georgia is blessed with vast hydro resources. In fact, approximately 80 percent of Georgia’s energy comes from hydropower, which can serve as a ‘battery’ to back-up large-scale, intermittent renewable energy such as wind and solar for the region,” said Herscowitz.