The FINANCIAL -- The residents of 79 countries have registered businesses in Georgia during the first two months of 2015. The number of businesses registered by foreigners has amounted to 432, up from 418 from the same period of the previous year. With 93 start-ups Turkish citizens are dominating in the field of setting up businesses in Georgia. Out of total registered businesses, only 2.4% of them are fully owned by a private foreign person.
Following Turkey, there are five countries whose representatives have registered more than ten businesses in Georgia during the first two months of 2015. Azerbaijanis have established 38 businesses. 34 Russians decided to try the Georgian market, adding 24 companies owned by Russians and Georgians, 3 by Russians and Ukrainians, and one more by representatives of Russia, Ukraine and Georgia. The number of businesses registered by Ukrainians has amounted to 25. In total, 23 businesses were opened by U.S. residents. In addition, there were 4 more companies set up by U.S. and Georgian citizens, one by U.S. and UK, and another one by representatives of the U.S., Egypt and Cameroon. Iranians have registered 16 businesses.
Like this year, Turkey was also dominating in terms of businesses registered in Georgia by foreigners during the first two months of 2014. 70 registered businesses were owned by Turks during the first two months of last year. An additional ten were established by Turks and Georgians. With 45 start-ups Iran was the second country by business registration during January-February 2014. This year the number has only totalled 16; or 64% less. 38 Iraqi citizens tried their hand in the Georgian market last year. 2 more were set up with the cooperation of Georgians, and one more was opened by Iraqi and Dutch people. This year the number has dropped to 7; or 80% less. The activity of Russians in Georgia was also visible in 2014. During the first two months of the previous year 30 Russians opened businesses in Georgia. An additional 15 decided to found a business by partly sharing with local entities. Comparison of the years 2014-2015 shows increasing activity of the Ukrainian business society in Georgia. 15 less companies registered last year, in comparison with the current data. The number has totalled 10. An additional ten businesses were registered with the cooperation of local citizens. 14 Armenians and 11 U.S. citizens registered a business in Georgia in 2014. While the interest of Armenians has slumped this year, as it reached just 8, the activity of U.S. citizens appears to be growing.
The Hungarian Trade House-Georgia was established two months ago by two Azerbaijanis. The main goal of the company is the introduction of Hungarian products to the Georgian market. “In February when Georgian PM Irakli Gharibashvili visited Hungary, it was announced that the Hungarian Export-Import Bank (Exim Bank) will offer USD 50 million to Georgia to support business development in the country. In this line we established our company and are playing the role of middleman between local companies seeking cheap credit and Exim Bank. Exim Bank will offer Georgians loans at 2.5-3%,” Levan Pateishvili, Director at Hungarian Trade House-Georgia, told The FINANCIAL.
“Hungary has quite big production. The country is well-known in various industries: food production, technology, vehicle production, agriculture and others. We will soon start importing products not only to the retail segment, but also corporate,” said Pateishvili.
Hungarian business is quite successful in Azerbaijan. This is the reason why Azerbaijani citizens founded this company. “The Hungarian side was aimed at regional development,” Pateishvili said.
Vano Abashidze holds the dual citizenship of both Russia and Georgia. He was living in Moscow from 1993 where he founded the construction company Gradstroi. In order to bring up his children in his homeland, Abashidze returned to Georgia two years ago. He opened the Gradstroi branch in Georgia. The company is operating with tenders, and is constructing schools, kindergartens and other municipal buildings. “There were no open tenders yet in this line, so I am still waiting,” Abashidze said.
“In Moscow we have been building projects worth a minimum of USD 3-4 million annually,” he added.
Lachin Mamishov is the owner of Marka Film Production, recently established in Georgia. The company is making documentary movies. “Out of all the post-Soviet states Georgia has the easiest legislation for doing business. That is why I decided to register my company, Marka Film Production, here. During recent years Georgia has been a masterclass of building democracy for the whole of the Caucasus. Even in European states there is big bureaucracy. I have frequently visited Georgia. I consider it to be my second homeland. I am glad that I will be paying taxes to the budget of this state,” Mamishov said.
Mamishov is a journalist. According to him, there are many journalists who are currently in jail in Azerbaijan due to their oppositional views. “Hence I found it risky to continue my work in my homeland. I left Azerbaijan in September 2014 for Europe. I am working on a documentary film about political migrants. My first film has not been welcomed by the Azerbaijani Government. There will be over ten in the series. Each of them will be devoted to one political migrant. In September, when I was in Brussels Azerbaijani police officers started calling me and questioning me. It made me decide not to return to Azerbaijan. The only way to continue to live a peaceful life in Baku was to become a puppet journalist of the government. But that was against my principles,” said Mamishov.
Mamishov mostly lives in various countries of Europe. In Georgia he is planning to make a documentary film about Konstantine Gamsakhurdia, the prominent Georgian writer. “His novel Friendship of Foes is devoted to Rakhim-bek Vekilov, who was secretary of the Azerbaijani Democratic Republic. I am collecting some archive materials to prove that Vekilov did not commit suicide. It was a ruse, supported by his friend Gamsakhurdia, by which he managed to escape from the NKVD to Istanbul,” Mamishov told The FINANCIAL.
Ildirimturk Ildirim registered the German Market Alman Phazar in Georgia. This is the first business he has started in Georgia. A second-hand clothing store will soon be opened in Tbilisi. The products will be imported from Europe. Initially, Ildirim plans to open just one branch, then if it turns out to be a success, he will expand his business in Georgia.
A friend recommended that Turkish Musa Sarsilmaz come to Georgia and start a business here. Sarsilmaz registered cafe-bar Disco 32 in Tbilisi. Meanwhile, he has not yet developed his business plan further, as for the last month he has been awaiting his resident permit in Georgia.
Noble Photograph and Advertisement is owned by Turkish Barish Ishchi. The company will soon start offering an advertising service for Georgians.
According to the Georgian National Statistics Office, there are 605,390 registered businesses in Georgia as of 1 February, 2015. Out of this number, only 118, 108 are active. With 20.7% trade; the repair of motor vehicles and personal and household goods are dominant in terms of type of economic activity.