2020 April-May News

AmCham member companies respond to coronavirus

AmCham member companies have been swift to react to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis in Georgia.

Financial donations to the anti-virus effort have been quick in the coming from companies such as M2, PMI, APM Terminals Poti, Silknet, Lomisi, Batumi International Container Terminal, GeoSteel LLC, Efes Brewery in Georgia (JSC Lomisi), Hydrolea LLC, Orient Logic, PMI, Maqro Construction, Caucasus Online, Efes, Georgian American University and the Georgian Industrial Group, who have given sums between 10,000 – 1 million GEL each to the StopCov Fund, which had already received 126 million GEL as of April 13.

Despite enormous strains on the tourism sector caused by the spread of the virus, some of the country’s largest hotels have given or offered their premises to be used as quarantine spaces, including Adjara Group’s Holiday Inn in Tbilisi, the Grand Gloria Hotel Batumi, the Marriott Hotel Moxy in Tbilisi, the Radisson Park Hotel in Tsinandali, Ibis Hotel and the Sheraton Grand Tbilisi Metechi Palace. The Ramada Encore Tbilisi has also offered its premises if needed. Coca Cola is supplying quarantine spaces with their products throughout the country.

These hotels, amongst others, have been doing their best to support their employees, keeping as many as possible on salary, providing reduced salary for furloughed staff in some instances, maintaining health insurance and more.

Member banks and financing institutions have been doing their part as well. TBC Bank intends to spend more than 5 million GEL to roll-out services that will facilitate distance education, assistance for the elderly and the dissemination of digital technologies. TBC Bank will also purchase 10,000 coronavirus rapid tests. Bank of Georgia has pledged to purchase essential medical supplies for the Ministry of Health, including 20,000 lab tests, 10 ventilators, 60,000 gloves and 50,000 masks. Liberty Bank has decided to prepay April pensions with 100 million GEL of its own resources to individuals older than 70 years of age, who will be able to access these funds via their social cards. Gazelle Finance has announced a three-month grace period for companies affected by the risks, and is offering technical assistance facilities to companies in need to cover their immediate cash flow deficits.

All of our member universities have now completed transition to online classes.The Georgian American University (GAU) is supporting three charities to support the socially vulnerable, and has delayed tuition payment until July 2020 for students facing financial hardship.

The Georgia Red Cross Society has a number of on-going efforts to mitigate the effects of the virus on the elderly and other vulnerable groups by providing them with food and hygiene products across the country. In addition to handling donations by companies, the GRCS has made it possible for individuals to do their part by purchasing and donating essential food items from a specific list of items in supermarkets.

The Caucasus Environmental NGO Network (CENN) is assisting ethnic minorities in the quarantine zone of Kvemo Kartli to obtain information about the COVID-19 pandemic in the region in Armenian and Azerbaijani, in addition to providing face masks and sanitizers there. CENN is also implementing rapid grants programs for communities, groups and organizations to respond to the COVID-19 crisis in Keda and Tsalka municipalities.

Yet other companies have created their own initiatives to deal with the damaged wrought by COVID-19. Adjara Group, in cooperation with other companies, has established the Ertianoba platform [Georgian for unity] – this project helps people in need such as the elderly or those with underlying medical conditions, by providing them with essential medical items and food stuffs through volunteers that register to lend a helping hand. Gulf Georgia supports Ertianoba volunteers by providing fuel for their transportation needs.

Gulf Georgia established a platform called Ekimebistvis [‘For doctors’], through which it donates 5 tetri per liter of gas sold to support doctors and other medical workers. The fund had accumulated more than 121,000 GEL as of April 8.

SavvY has unveiled a new platform called supportbusiness.ge, where companies will be able to register their problems and challenges. The Georgian Retailers Association and British American Tobacco have provided face masks to doctors and journalists.

Meanwhile, the United States is providing $1.1 million in health funding to Georgia to help prepare laboratory systems, activate case-identification and event-based surveillance, support technical experts for response and preparedness, bolster risk communication and other activities.

This is by no means an exhaustive look at how AmCham member companies are doing their part in the fight against COVID-19. Over the coming weeks, AmCham will maintain a database of what our members are doing, which can be found on the AmCham website.

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