First Round of Employment and Entrepreneurship Shuttles Closes in May & June
May is the month that students around the world anxiously await their final results and the diploma ceremonies. In 2019, participants of the Employment and Entrepreneurship Shuttles in Georgia also had their eyes set on this month when they would receive their certificates, get feedback on job applications and receive the results of their grant applications. The shuttles have been implemented within the project “Economic and Social Participation of Vulnerable Displaced Persons and Local Population in the South Caucasus” (EPIC) supported by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and funded by the Federal German Government. The shuttle courses are five-months in duration and through this project 228 participants have been assisted by coaches to increase their professional and personal competences and to prepare them to seek-out employment, return to education or open their own business. As of early July 2019, 36 participants have found employment, 34 have engaged in training courses, 11 have started internships and 73 have applied for a business grant.
The shuttles are open to everyone within the six target municipalities (Tbilisi, Marneuli, Zugdidi, Tsalenjikha, Senaki and Poti), although specific attention is given to IDPs, youth, women and minority groups. A key element of the program is to increase participant’s self-confidence and self-esteem: “Before I had a feeling of fear, I thought that everything was impossible, but [through the shuttle] I was convinced that if you do your best, nothing is impossible” explained Marika, at the closing event of the Zugdidi Employment Shuttle.
“In the beginning, it was chaotic [the relationships among participants], because we didn’t know each other, but then we got together as a team and now if we don’t meet each other for a day…we almost can’t live without each other”, remarked Ana, also from Zugdidi, who is now attending a web-programming and social media marketing course. This too is an important part of the methodology as it encourages the growth of a community of people, who enter the shuttle as strangers and leave it as friends who can support one another in the future. The learning process helps to overcome personal difficulties, social prejudices and other barriers.
The shuttle methodology was developed in Spain at the Action Against Hunger headquarters. The Employment Shuttle aims at supporting participants to actively seek out employment opportunities, while the Entrepreneurship Shuttle helps people unlocking their business potential in new, innovative and growth markets to establish their own business. The shuttles were first introduced into Georgia in 2015, and after adapting them to the new context, they have proved to be as successful as they are in Spain. Since late 2018, through this GIZ-funded project, Action Against Hunger is now supporting the implementation of the shuttles in Armenia and Azerbaijan.