Monitoring Report: The perspective of an untypical beneficiary
Monitoring of the project “Introducing the model of Hybrid Solar Dryers for fruits, vegetables, herbs and NTFPs“, implemented by CARE, RCDA, and Cooperative Fund in 5 regions of Georgia, brought me to Guria, the smallest region of Georgia with a high level of unemployment, which has been exacerbated by brain drain and on top of that, the COVID-19 Pandemic.
After reaching in the company of RCDA’s representative Mr. Rostom Gamisonia village Shukhuti, I am welcomed by a well-known lawyer and life-long human rights defender Ms. Lia MuKhashavria in her garden. Ms. Lia, the board member of Cooperative Fund, leads one of the cooperatives, which participated in this recently finished Challenge Fund project.
But how it happened that a well-known lawyer moved to a rural region and took part in the project, which was supported by the CUP?
Ms. Lia is a person with international educational background, with study experiences from Germany and the USA. To name just some of her working experiences, Lia is one of the co-founders of Georgian-American University and former Dean of Law Faculty of this university. She served also as a consultant for USAID.
Besides, she was proposed to become the Public Defender of Georgia, and, for example, in 2012, she established NGO Human Rights Priority. Since the start of her career, she has won many cases at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
Motivated by the vision to try something new and help people on the ground, she left in 2015 Tbilisi, and based on previous research established a hazelnut processing cooperative – ‘Guriis Tkhili’ in the village Shukhuti. A couple of years of Ms. Lia’s leadership made from Guriis Tkhili tremendous success generating income opportunities for many. Moreover, there are still perspectives to grow and expand to international markets. However, the impressive story doesn’t end with this.
Ms. Lia continues from Guria in her high-level law practice. Besides, she became one of the unofficial leaders of the local community, who is helping in law-related matters, for example, to victims of domestic violence. She also supports the aspirations of local people of all ages. Ms. Lia explains that she doesn’t separate her work for Guriis Tkhili, work in community and law practice, but understands it rather as one united agenda.
By joining the Czech-UNDP Partnership’s supported Challenge Fund project, Ms. Lia’s cooperative became one of the 12 supported groups, which received Hybrid Solar Dryer for fruits, vegetables, herbs, and NTFPs adjusted to their needs. All supported groups were within the project connected with potential buyers from the Czech Republic and Georgia and received trainings covering areas, such as marketing and branding, or DCFTA.
Ms. Lia acknowledges the impact of this well-executed project, which contributed to the economic empowerment of local people and diversification of their income.
About the Challenge Fund
The implementation of Challenge Fund projects is financially supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic. Via the Challenge Fund, the Czech-UNDP Partnership for SDGs brings innovative solutions from the Czech Republic’s private sector, NGOs, universities, state institutions, research centres and individuals to tackle specific developmental challenges in the priority countries.
The content of this material does not necessarily represent the official views of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, or of the United Nations, including UNDP, or UN Member States.
 Cooperative Fund. Leadership. Available at: https://thecoopfund.org/about/leadership/
 National Parliamentary Library of Georgia. Lia MuKhashavria. Available at: http://www.nplg.gov.ge/bios/en/00003199/
 CSO Georgia. Lia MuKhashavria for the Public Defender – petition of supporters. Available at: https://csogeorgia.org/en/newsPost/855
 N. Kakulia, I. Kochlamazashvili, and S. Gelashvili. ISET Policy Institute. Strong Leader = Successful Team?! Available at: https://iset-pi.ge/index.php/en/iset-economist-blog-2/entry/strong-leader-successful-team