A great learning experience on Agritourism, Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Tbilisi, Georgia


From 02 until 10 October 2019, MSM and the Business and Technology University (BTU) jointly organized a Refresher Course on Agritourism, Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Tbilisi, Georgia. The course introduced participants in very practical ways to the tenets, key concepts and opportunities of agritourism and its linkages with entrepreneurship and innovation.

We’ve welcomed 20 participants from Armenia, Georgia, Lebanon and Palestine in the Georgian capital and provided them with a packed 9-day program. For the opening of the course we were honored to be joined by the Dutch Ambassador in Georgia, Ms. Maaike van Koldam. The Dutch Ambassador together with the Rector of BTU Nino Enukidze and MSM Program Manager Patrick Martens made short opening speeches to the participants.

The first guest lecture session was given by Ms. Nino Zambakhidze, Chairperson Georgian Farmers’ Association (GFA). She enthusiastically presented the environment of Agritourism and Entrepreneurship in Georgia, the activities of GFA, and provided frameworks for developing entrepreneurial skills and MSMEs.

“This refresher course rejuvenated my entrepreneurship spirit, inspired me, opened my eyes on new opportunities and introduced me to new cultures and new friends from different places in the world.” – Bachar Abdallah - Participant

Thereafter, an interesting visit was planned to Georgia’s first indoor vertical farm, Stamba Vertical Farm. Located at the award-winning Stamba Hotel, Space Farm grows baby greens, leafy greens, and edible flowers as well as strawberries and miniature vegetables. Built across 200 square meters with seven levels of racks, the facility uses 75 percent less water than traditional farming, conserves energy, and grows fresh organic produce handpicked for the hotel.

The whole experience was not just limited to one external visit. When in Tbilisi, a guided tour through Old Tbilisi couldn’t be left out. The group received a lot of information about the history of the city and enjoyed the beautiful sights that Old Tbilisi has to offer.

On academic refreshing and updating, Prof. Meine Pieter van Dijk (MSM) taught on how to link entrepreneurship with tourism & agriculture and innovation and Patrick Martens spoke to the participants about opportunities and challenges in international trade and how to turn entrepreneurial ideas and concepts into projects. After presentations on entrepreneurship and innovation a site visit to the key state agency in the field, the Georgian Innovation and Technology Agency (GITA) was conducted.

On the 10th of October the last lecture was given by Mr. Brian King (Chief of Party of USAID’S ZRDA Agritourism Program in Georgia) who talked about learning from Best Practices in: MSME development, Poverty alleviation, Promoting local development and Fostering market linkages.

The Refresher course was concluded with a tour to Saguramo Greenhouse. The group was guided through the vineyards and wine making process of Saguramo Greenhouse, where more than 450 wines are being grown. Finally a closing dinner and award ceremony was held at the nearby Guramishvili’s Marani.

The Refresher Course was well received by the participants and they returned back home with new knowledge and skills that can be put into practice in their country.

"I gained valuable knowledge, which I am sure will give me unique opportunities to focus more on agricultural science and tourism for the future. I got clear aunderstanding about agro tourism risk identification and management processes, focusing on product markets, resource markets, production costs and structure and so on. Also we had a very nice presentation about proposal writing, which done by Patrick Martens. It was very useful about proposal writing style, writing management processes , how to identify main concepts and structure, how to develop strategic thinking focusing on more and better quality of technical proposal writing. The guest lectures were also very nice" - Sona Ohandganyan - participant

Refresher courses are tailor-made training courses initiated by a local organization or an OKP, NFP, NICHE alumni organization together with or in  cooperation with a Dutch organization. The courses contribute to the institutional development of the alumni’s employing organizations, prolong the impact of the original training and educate alumni on the latest trends in their field of knowledge, combined with skills education to be able to bring the newly gained knowledge into practice.

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