The Group considers the interests of its main stakeholders (customers, shareholders, employees, lenders and wider society) when developing the strategy and the processes to improve its operations. We continually strive to positively contribute to society through the entire scope of our business activities by developing socially-oriented products and services, implementing responsible approaches to our business operations, carrying out sponsorship and charitable activities.
SOCIALLY-ORIENTED PRODUCTS AND SERVICES
In order to efficiently manage its indirect environmental and social impact, the Bank prioritised the integration of sustainable finance principles into its credit risk management procedures. In 2012, in order to effectively manage the Bank’s direct and indirect impact on society and the environment, the Board of Directors adopted an Environmental and Social (E&S) Policy. In 2013, the Bank updated its Environmental and Social Risk Management (ESRM) procedures in order to ensure a proper application of appropriate, risk-based and sector-specific environmental and social risk assessment practices to its commercial lending activities and in 2014, the Bank actively started to put the procedures into practice. The Bank defined priority targets and promotes environmental and social risk management activities accordingly. Since then, the Bank ensures it has a consistent approach to evaluating and managing the environmental, human health and safety risks of its financed projects. These procedures are now being integrated into the Bank’s credit risk management process and soon will be routinely applied to all commercial transactions. In all that the Bank does, it strives to find sustainable solutions that make business sense to clients and minimise negative impacts on the social and natural environments.
ESRM procedures were further updated in 2017. The purpose of the review was to ensure that the policy remains fit for purpose and reflects experience and changes in the relevant legislation. In 2017, the Bank updated the assessment procedures of low, medium and high risk projects and refined the monitoring procedures of the projects.
The main objective of the E&S Policy is to increase environmental and social benefits for our clients. Through the ESRM procedures, the Bank enhances our clients’ opportunities to be in compliance with national environmental and social regulations and adopt international best practices in this area. The Environmental and Social Policy and Risk Management procedures, along with other tools necessary for their implementation, comprise the core components of the Bank’s Environmental and Social Risk Management System (ESMS). Under this concept, the Bank endeavours to become an environmentally friendly financial institution. In 2014, the Bank won the “Green Service” award at the “Georgian Green Business Awards” ceremony organised by the Ministry of Environmental and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia.
In May 2017, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) awarded the Bank “The Deal of the Year 2016” prize for having financed a project aimed at boosting the renewable energy capacity of one of the hydropower plants in Georgia. The
EBRD’s Green Trade Facilitation Programme (TFP) allows partner banks to use existing TFP facilities to finance exports, imports and local distribution of imported green technologies and services in line with the EBRD’s Green Economy Transition approach.
Furthermore, to ensure a more effective operation and maintenance of the ESRM Policy, the Social and Environmental Risk Unit was created in September 2016. Until then, the Environmental and Social Risk Coordinator was responsible for the implementation of the Policy. In 2017, we selected a Social and Environmental Risk Specialist who will oversee the practical, day-to-day implementation of the Bank’s ESMS.
We implement the following procedures to ensure the operation and maintenance of the ESMS:
- We refrain from financing environmentally or socially sensitive business activities mentioned in the exclusion lists of Development Finance Institutions such as EBRD, IFC, DEG, FMO and ADB among others
- We aim to assess the relative level of environmental and social risk associated with clients’ businesses. We require certain customers to implement specific environmental or social action plans to avoid or mitigate their environmental and social impact and adhere to specific monitoring and reporting requirements that we set in order to minimise environmental and social risk. These requirements are included as covenants in agreements between certain of our customers and the Bank
- We aim to regularly monitor environmental and social risks associated with the Bank’s activities, and assess clients’ compliance with the terms of respective agreements
Through ensuring comprehensive environmental and social assessment and action plans, as a part of stable due diligence, the Bank encourages its customers to fulfil their environmental and social obligations and establishes a framework for them to achieve good environmental and social standards. In many cases, the Bank’s proper and timely management of customers’ environmental and social risks has helped them to avoid financial and legal sanctions during inspections conducted by state enforcement agencies.
Environmental and social issues are tracked at project sites in cooperation with the facility staff, providing ongoing advice and guidance on good practice and standards and monitoring compliance with the requirements. For environmental and social due diligence of certain high risk projects, the Bank contracts independent external experts. As part of monitoring, the Bank requires each high risk client to provide the Bank with an annual report on their environmental and social performance and the implementation of applicable Environmental and Social Action Plans. Alternatively, the Bank’s staff visits high risk clients on a regular basis. In 2017, the Bank held extensive Environmental and Social Due Diligence (ESDD), where the Bank monitored clients and developed action plans for noncompliant clients. Thanks to the Bank’s efforts, some clients conducted an environmental audit and obtained the necessary environmental impact permits to continue their business operations. Those clients started to identify, avoid, mitigate and manage environmental and social risks and their impact on the natural and social environment. In addition, as a result of ESDD some clients took out loans to enhance their companies’ power and ability to reduce negative impacts on the environment and positively benefit their communities. Others implemented environmental and social management systems in accordance with international standards.
Procedures for addressing external queries and concerns, developed within the framework of ESMS, provide a means for the public to submit queries or concerns related to the Bank’s E&S Policy, and have these inquiries responded to by the Bank in a timely manner. In the Association Agreement between the European Union and Georgia, Georgia has committed to progressively approximate its legislation in the relevant sectors with that of the EU and to implement it effectively. Through this approximation process, Georgia is actively developing and amending its national legislation in the relevant sectors. As a result, the Bank regularly checks legal developments and updates with regard to environmental, health and safety, and labour issues and places great emphasis on the improvement of ESDD opportunities. The Bank’s staff are very focused on introducing clients to information about relevant (existing and new) regulations and laws during ESDD with the aim to strengthen public knowledge and capacity in the area of environmental and social protection.
Training activities play an important role in enhancing the implementation of the policy. In 2017, the Bank provided training opportunities for the Head of Social and Environmental Risk and the staff involved in environmental and social risk management process. The Head of Unit participated in the 11th Annual Performance Standards Community of Learning organised by IFC. The Community of Learning is a knowledge sharing forum aimed at strengthening the implementation of environmental and social standards by financial institutions in emerging markets. The event provided a chance to exchange experience, learn from investment case studies, and engage in dialogue among environmental and social risk management specialists from all over the globe. Trainings was also held for staff and focused on strengthening social and environmental due diligence and risk management. More generally, the Bank has delivered several training sessions in this area and consequently more than 100 employees were trained during the last three years. Leading experts and state inspectors were invited as trainers. We intend to continue the trainings in the future.
The Bank is committed to respecting the principles of sustainable development, protecting the environment, and is willing to improve the level of public health safety as an essential element for sustainable development and economic growth. The Bank will continue to conduct business with due consideration to environmental and social protection and contribute to the creation of a sustainable society. The Bank will further help its clients benefit from a proper and diligent implementation of the E&S Policy. Bank of Georgia also continues to support Georgia’s emerging economy by financing industries that are of strategic importance for the development of the country.
Electricity consumption growth in Georgia has averaged 3.6% over the last five years. The Bank finances electricity generation and transmission companies to support the country’s sustainable growth. In 2017, the Bank, in collaboration with two other local banks, provided a long-term credit facility to the electricity distributor in Tbilisi. The total financing amounted to GEL 36.0 million.
The Bank financed the construction of a hydro power plant (HPP) in Svaneti, in the North West of Georgia. The plant has an installed capacity of 10.0MW and will contribute on average 43.0GWh to local energy generation annually. Out of the total investment of US$ 10.2 million, the Bank financed US$ 9.1 million with EBRD’s credit line to SMEs that comply with DCFTA requirements. The Bank channels the facility to support the companies that are willing to upgrade their facilities and invest in modern and environmentally-friendly technologies.
In 2017, the Bank financed the Georgian-German Oncology Research Centre LLC, known as “Mardaleishvili Medical Centre”, which is one of the leading diagnostic clinics in Georgia. With the financing provided by the Bank, the company will open a state-of-the-art diagnostic centre in Tbilisi, equipped with the latest medical facilities acquired from General Electric. The Bank financed the rehabilitation of Zugdidi’s hospital for infectious diseases – the only clinic where patients can receive Hepatitis C and HIV treatment in Western Georgia’s Samegrelo region. The hospital has been fully rehabilitated in line with modern standards. With a 25-bed capacity, the clinic also serves patients from Abkhazia, occupied region of Georgia. The treatment of Hepatitis C and HIV is supported by the Global fund.
Tourism remains one of the most rapidly developing sectors of the Georgian economy. The Bank actively provides financing for hotel constructions throughout the country. The Bank has financed the construction of a hotel in Akhasheni, in Georgia’s Kakheti region to the East. The hotel is scheduled to open in the first half of 2018 and will be run by local management. The hotel is located in the heart of a vineyard and will be a part of the Wine Route. This will make the hotel a popular destination not only among the tourists, but also the local population.
The Bank has recently financed a land acquisition in one of the most popular winter resorts in Georgia. The acquired area is reserved for a full-scale winter ski resort development. In 2017, a contract was signed with Georgian Airports Union for the construction of a new terminal in Kutaisi International Airport. Total project size is GEL 23 million and the Bank issued a guarantee in the amount of GEL 4.6 million for financing the construction works. With this project, the capacity of Kutaisi International Airport will double. In addition to the Bank’s financial support, the Group’s real estate business m2 started developing hotels and signed an exclusive agreement with Wyndham Group to develop Wyndham’s three-star Ramada Encore hotel in Georgia. First Ramada Encore opened in Tbilisi in February 2018. m2 is also developing a four-star Ramada hotel in Tbilisi and a three-star Ramada Encore in Kutaisi where the international airport serves low-cost airlines and makes the city popular with tourists visiting Georgia.
In 2017, the Bank issued financing for a Georgian university of GEL 10 million and US$ 4 million. Due to increasing demand, the university decided to build its fourth campus, which will increase its capacity from 7,000 to 12,000 students. The project includes the construction and refurbishment of a ten-floor building with a net usable area of 25,000 square metres, including 112 new auditoriums, an exam centre, a conference hall for 500 guests, a library, a swimming pool, a fitness centre among others.
Infrastructure development remains one of the most important objectives for Georgia. In 2017, the Bank financed several important projects and among them is Caucasus Roads Project (CRP) – a leading Georgian construction company with its main focus on core infrastructure. The Bank has partnered with CRP for many years and supported the company’s various projects. In 2017, CRP won a public tender for the design, construction and rehabilitation of the Tskneti-Samadlo and Tskneti-Akhaldaba roads, affected by the natural disaster in Tbilisi on 13 June 2015. The Bank supported the project by issuing a letter of guarantee for US$ 3 million to finance the works.
In 2017, the Bank financed several small and medium-sized roads, water supply systems and other construction projects. The Bank issued guarantees for around GEL 130 million to support two new projects announced by the Department of Roads of the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia. One of the projects is the construction of Batumi Bypass Road with a contractual value of around GEL 330 million, and another is the construction of the E-60 highway section from Zemo Osiauri to Chumateleti (central Georgia) with a contractual value of GEL 130 million. Both projects are part of improving Georgia’s transit capacity and increasing the potential of the “Silk Road”. In collaboration with EBRD, the Bank financed more than 50 kilometres of road rehabilitation with GEL 2.7 million in Western Georgia’s Samegrelo and Imereti regions.
PRODUCTION AND EXPORT
In 2017, the Bank financed a textile manufacturing plant in Western Georgia’s Adjara region. The plant produces apparel for internationally recognised brands, employing more than 2,500 workers from the local population.
The Bank supported Atlantic Group, a French manufacturer of heating systems and home appliance products, with around US$ 2 million credit line. The company entered the Georgian market in 2017 and intends to commence a production process in Kutaisi Free Industrial Zone.
Bank of Georgia continues to innovate and generate a wide range of socially-oriented financial products and services that provide additional value to individuals and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and meet their respective needs.
The Georgian banking sector still experiences difficulties in overcoming economic and geographical barriers in expanding its financial services in remote regions and among low-income segments of the population.
Our Express Banking service plays an important role in addressing this issue.
- As at 31 December 2017, a network of 156 Express branches and 2,842 Express Pay terminals are located all over the country, including in remote mountain regions.
- Express financial products, such as Express Card, Express Deposit and Express Loan are uncomplicated, easily accessible and affordable to a segment of the population that would not have access to banking products and services otherwise. By 31 December 2017, the Bank had attracted 524,366 clients, of which 52,399 became clients of the Bank in 2017.
As a part of the Express Banking service, we prioritise the development of self-service skills. We plan to expand services offered by Express Pay terminals. All of these changes will provide a more accessible banking service to our clients. In 2017, the Bank developed web-based application processing tools that enable completion of a full lending cycle remotely.
In 2017, we enhanced the functions of an Express Student Card. It now offers special discounts on public transport and free distance banking services, among other benefits. Moreover, students can get special #StudentBreak discounts in various stores, cafes and entertainment centres. Students are automatically involved in the PLUS Loyalty Scheme – the Bank’s initiative that offers different status levels to customers and reward points that accumulate based on the client’s business with the Bank and can be redeemed into partner companies’ products and/or services, at the client’s request. PLUS points can also be converted into mobile phone top-ups and used to pay public transport, utility bills and other products. The programme encourages the student population to use financial services and supports them financially during their studies.
In 2017, Express Bank launched a Student Loan, a product with a nine-month grace period on principle payments. The application process for a Student Loan is fully web-based and once it’s approved, the funds get automatically transferred to the account of the selected university.
Youth support. We have developed a wide range of financial products to support young people in Georgia. For example, via special conditions of the Child Deposit we provide parents with the opportunity to secure their children’s future. Starting from a minimal amount of GEL 10, a deposit can be opened for at least two years at any time from a child’s birth until the age of 18.
The annual interest rate (10.2% for Georgian Lari and 1.0%-3.5% for foreign currency) is added to the initial deposit. In 2017, we opened approximately 11,855 Child Deposit accounts.
The Bank also offers special products that allow young people to get a higher education. Examples of such products are student loans with favourable terms that do not require any financial guarantees and collateral. Total portfolio of student loans amounted to GEL 790,456 by the end of 2017, while loans with a total value of GEL 400,852 were issued in 2017.
In 2016, the Bank partnered with the International Educational Centre (IEC) and created a new opportunity for students to study abroad. Students can apply for the loans to finance the tuition, living and insurance expenses abroad. The loans have a grace period of maximum 27 months. With a recommendation letter from IEC, the Bank finances the students without requesting a confirmation of income. In 2017, the Bank extended the contract with IEC and will continue to support students’ education.
Another example of the Bank’s products aimed at supporting young people is a social-educational project “sCool Card” – a multifunctional card for school children. The main objective of the project is to teach children about financial culture and build their knowledge around financial services at an early stage. sCool Card is available at no cost and all of the transactions and services are also free of charge. sCool Card provides special benefits for children in Georgian public and private schools. The benefits include free public transport in Tbilisi (metro, buses) and Batumi (buses), discounts for entertaining centres popular among children, bookstores, toyshops, children cafes, as well as the accumulation of points (sCoola) with each transaction.
In a further effort to help children better understand banking products, the Bank opened a sCool Card Business School, where experienced staff provide free training about topics such as: “The importance of money”, “Bank and me”, “Family budget”, “I am a manager”, etc. Bank of Georgia and the sCool Card are the finalists of the Child Friendly Banking Award 2017, The Global Inclusion Awards 2017 (Berlin, Germany).
We continue to provide financing to SMEs, a backbone of the Georgian economy that helps to ensure the sustainable development of Georgia. In addition to our own microfinancing and SME loan programmes, we also participate in various programmes that support entrepreneurs. Since 2015, the Bank has partnered with the non-profit Agricultural Projects Management Agency (APMA), which supports SMEs in the agricultural sector. Together, we have co-financed agricultural loans at fixed annual interest rates, which are partially subsidised by APMA. In 2017, the total amount of loans that the Bank issued to SMEs amounted to GEL 1.3 billion, of which GEL 85 million was issued through the Preferential Agriculture Lending Programme. In 2017, the Bank continued to reinforce financing micro business owners and considers this segment as one of the main areas of its portfolio growth.
The Bank has dedicated staff and established processes for its new product “micro-express loans” that targets the micro business segment and offers loans under GEL 10,000. Increasing the automation and digitilisation is one of the cornerstones of the Bank’s micro lending strategy. In 2016, the Bank partnered with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to offer the market a much needed local currency funding. Bank of Georgia is committed to further extending its financing to SMEs. Furthermore, the Bank is keen to develop financial products and lending practices to specifically service women-led SMEs, which will ultimately increase their involvement in developing Georgia’s private sector. The loan facility signed with EBRD enables the Bank to issue longer-term local currency loans and to provide essential financial support for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in adhering to DCFTA requirements, as well as underserved women entrepreneurs.
In addition to assisting the SMEs financially, the Bank launched an SME portal in September 2017. The portal provides financial and business-related advice to entrepreneurs in order to upgrade their financial literacy and management skills and ensure the sustainable development of their businesses. The portal provides entrepreneurs with information on trainings and equips them with knowledge and skills in accounting, legal documents, business development, sales and marketing.
Environmental and social risk management processes of SME clients are embedded throughout the Bank’s activities. By ensuring that comprehensive environmental and social risk assessments and the necessary action plans are undertaken, we encourage our SME clients to be in compliance with national environmental and social legislation. During site visits, we provide our clients with advice and guidance on good practice and standards in these areas.
We update them on environmental, health and safety, as well as labour issues and monitor their compliance with environmental and social legislation. In many cases of noncompliance, our proper and timely management of the environmental and social risks of our SME clients has helped them to address issues that would otherwise have resulted in financial and legal sanctions from the state enforcement agency.
Currently, the Georgian real estate market is vulnerable to various economic and financial uncertainties. Numerous construction projects remain unfinished for long periods of time, while there is a strong growing demand for housing from the Georgian population. In response to this increasing demand, the Group’s real estate development business, m2 Real Estate was established in order to offer affordable housing to the emerging middle class in Georgia and to young families especially. Nowadays, m2 is a major player in Georgia’s real estate market, offering its customers turnkey apartments with fine-tuned infrastructure: fire-alarm systems in accordance with international standards, round-the-clock security service, maintenance of elevators, as well as common and green areas. m2 Real Estate has completed seven projects so far and has delivered them to its customers within, and frequently, ahead of the agreed deadlines.
The company plans the design and construction processes so that each square metre is distributed efficiently. m2 uses energy efficient construction components, thus bringing energy efficiency of its buildings up to 43%, which in turn translates into lower utility expenses incurred by the tenants. The level of energy savings in m2’s buildings is significantly above that of the average residential properties in Tbilisi. m2 tailors the apartments to its customers’ needs and wishes, allowing them to choose interior design and materials for a fit-out themselves. Since only a few customers can afford to buy large flats with an area exceeding 100 square metres, the company continuously works to optimise the size of its apartments to meet the current demand without compromising convenience and usability of the apartments. In June 2017, m2 acquired BK construction LLC, a local real estate construction company, which is expected to reduce m2’s construction costs and improve the design management process through vertical integration.
A large segment of m2’s customers is made up of young Georgian families (more than 50% of the company’s customers are 23-42 years old). We believe that by continuing to offer affordable housing products, we are helping them to significantly enhance the quality of their lives and enjoy modern living standards.
SPONSORSHIP AND CHARITY
As part of our sponsorship and charitable activities, the Group continues to focus on promoting and enhancing access to education, conserving nature, supporting people with disabilities and special needs, developing social enterprises and facilitating innovative projects that focus on social goods. The Group’s Sponsorship and Charity Policy encourages partnerships with various foundations and Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) to deliver sustainable results and bring positive change. Sponsorship and charity funds are channelled through the Bank’s Tree of Life Foundation that, in its turn, distributes funding by means of grant competitions in order to ensure transparent and fair methods of financing. The Group also implements its own social projects.
Tree of Life has allocated around GEL 2.5 million to support education, nature conservation, people with disabilities and special needs, social platforms, and development of social entrepreneurship.
Bank of Georgia together with the Tree of Life Foundation established a charity platform www.donate.ge, which connects the people in need with those who are willing to donate items, clothes, books, etc. The platform offers collection, sorting and delivery of items.
Bank of Georgia recognises the impact it can have on the country’s social-economic development. Therefore, the Bank launched a grant programme to support socially driven enterprises in Georgia. In 2017 and 2016, Bank of Georgia supported five social enterprises with up to GEL 200,000 and GEL 50,000 per project, respectively. At the same time, the Bank provided pro-bono services by helping the businesses in areas such as marketing, public relations, information technology, etc. The Bank partners with various NGOs to maximise its role in the social cause.
GGU regularly runs charitable activities for the social service agency Child and Environment and international humanitarian network Catharsis in Tbilisi. GGU covers the annual water supply expenses for Child and Environment – the agency that cares for homeless children and children with disabilities. Twice a year GGU sponsors the project Dinner for Everyone, which is organised by Catharsis for approximately 3,000 people.
Aldagi supports many socially vulnerable people by one-time help upon special requests. The company traditionally provides a home for at least one family every Christmas. Aldagi’s employees are engaged in various programmes that supply socially vulnerable people with food and first aid kits.
As part of its sponsorship activities, Teliani Valley focuses on promoting a healthy lifestyle. As the sponsors of the Georgian Rugby Union and National Olympic Committee, the company aims to attract more youngsters to healthy activities. The company is a main sponsor of the Georgian Tag Rugby initiative that is the biggest platform for raising awareness of a healthy lifestyle among school children.
GHG supported the construction of a children’s hospice, which aims to create a friendly and comfortable atmosphere, where, in addition to caring personnel, a great importance is attached to the environment and the interior. GHG traditionally participates in the state Children’s Oncology Programme, under which the company offers cancer-related conditions treatment for children with different cancer disorders (leukaemia, tumours, and lymphomas) in GHG’s Iashvili Paediatric Tertiary Referral Hospital, a multi-profile paediatric medical establishment.
Promoting and enhancing access to education. Bank of Georgia University has offered a top quality master’s degree programme since its foundation in 2014. The university welcomed its fourth intake of MBA students in 2017 and simultaneously launched a bachelor’s degree programme. The cost of studies in 2017 were again largely subsidised by the Bank with GEL 350,250. Up to 20 students study at no cost, while 40 students benefit from a 0% loan with grace period until graduation. Bank of Georgia University provides its students with hands-on experience by offering them the possibility to observe various business processes at the Group’s companies.
In 2013, the Bank became the first Georgian company to cooperate with one of the most prestigious scholarship programmes in the world – the Chevening scholarship. This cooperation provides Georgian students with an opportunity to pursue education in the UK.
In 2017, the Group provided GBP 89,532 to finance a master’s degree programme for three students. The partnership with Chevening will continue next year and the Group is looking forward to selecting students who will continue their studies in the UK.
In 2014, the Bank signed a partnership agreement with the prestigious US Fulbright scholarship scheme. Thanks to the Bank of Georgia’s contribution, a selected number of students from Georgia are able to enrol in a two-year master’s degree programme at a US university. In 2017, the funding provided to the students for their two-year degrees amounted to US$ 50,000. Since 2014, the Bank has granted US$ 250,000 to the US Fulbright scholarship programme.
For the last four years the Bank has been supporting a public speaking competition organised by the English Speaking Union Georgia. The competition allows high school senior year or university freshman students to prepare a speech on a pre-selected topic and present it in front of a competent jury. The winner is granted a fully paid trip to London to attend a global public speaking competition. We aim to support this competition in 2018 as well.
The Bank has been supporting every single TEDx Tbilisi conference since they were first organised in 2012. A TEDx conference is a locally organised TED format event, where communities, organisations and individuals join to initiate a conversation and connect with each other on different topics, which are important to society.
In 2017, m2 Real Estate’s subsidiary BK Construction signed a memorandum of cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia. According to the memorandum, m2 will build an institute for vocational education in the Municipality of Zestaponi (Western Georgia). The institute will offer more than 20 short-term vocational courses in engineering to more than 200 students annually. The studies will include both theoretical and practical courses. The latter will be conducted on m2’s construction sites. Most of the alumna will be employed by m2 and its subsidiary BK Construction.
Supporting people with disabilities. Since 2014, the Bank has focused its efforts on supporting people with disabilities – one of the most vulnerable social groups in Georgia. In 2017, the Bank donated GEL 78,200 to the Tree of Life Foundation for this cause. The Foundation distributed the funds through grant competitions – one intended for the relevant NGOs that work with people with disabilities and another with the specific aim of promoting social entrepreneurship. In order to qualify for the competition, the proposals had to focus on the creation of a small enterprise with a social component aimed at improving the livelihood of people with disabilities.
The Bank continues to focus on the adaptation of its own infrastructure. In 2017, an additional nine service centres became available for people with disabilities.
m2 is in the process of constructing a new specialised family-type home for children with severe disabilities. The project is built in Tbilisi within the framework of Protection of Children with Disabilities – a project run by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The project is being carried out by the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs, USAID and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) since 2015. The goal of the specialized home is to ensure that the children receive care in a family-like environment and are provided with all the services necessary for their adequate growth, individual development and smooth integration into society. After construction and renovation works are completed, seven children with severe forms of disability will be moved to live in the house. It is worth noting that all m2 buildings are friendly to people with special needs.
Conserving nature. Another priority of the Group’s charitable activities is the preservation of wildlife diversity. In 2017, the Bank granted US$ 100,000 to the Caucasus Nature Fund (CNF) to provide support to the Protected Areas of Georgia. Bank of Georgia allocated GEL 1 million for restoration of the forests destroyed by the wildfires in the summer of 2017.
In 2017, Bank of Georgia launched a car pooling app “Gzad” for its employees. The application enables them to share a ride to and from the Bank, which in turn helps reduce air pollution and ease the traffic in Tbilisi.
In 2017, GGU granted GEL 250,000 to restore a forest in Borjomi Gorge after a massive wildfire in August 2017.
In 2017, m2 committed to restoring a landscape and a burnt territory of 20,000 square metres on Tbilisi’s Mtatsminda slope. The works are conducted jointly with Tbilisi City Hall, Caucasus Environmental NGO Network (CENN), Regional Environmental Centre for the Caucasus (REC Caucasus), the Greens Movement of Georgia (GMG), botanical institute of Ilia State University and the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of Georgia. m2 was also one of the sponsors of the all-time football stars charity game held at Tbilisi Dinamo Arena, dedicated to the restoration of the forest burnt in Borjomi Gorge in August 2017.
Air quality is an immediate and acute problem in Georgian cities, affecting people’s quality of life. In order to increase awareness of climate change and contribute to a healthier environment, m2 actively promotes electric vehicles. As part of its spring campaign, the company offered its customers electric scooters as a gift. Moreover, throughout 2017 m2 contributed to developing infrastructure for electric vehicles by financially supporting a start-up company E-space with the installation of up to 50 charging stations in the country (Tbilisi, Batumi, Kutaisi, Rustavi, Kvareli and Telavi).
GHG contributed GEL 500,000 to rehabilitate the damaged area and to help restore the remarkable nature in Borjomi. With the support of the CNF, the company is involved in the Project on Maintenance of Caucasus Natural and Cultural Heritage. The fund is meant for effective long-term management of the protected territories of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. In 2017 GHG donated GEL 52,800 to support the project.
1David Morrison, BGEO Board member serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of CNF. The management concluded that the fund is not a related party in accordance with the IFRS and the payment does not constitute director’s remuneration.