The EBRD is strengthening its activities in the Caucasus by establishing a regional centre in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi. The bank aims to build on its successful portfolio in the Caucasus countries, which has expanded significantly in recent years under the Early Transition Countries Initiative.

The regional office will be headed by Michael Davey, EBRD director for the Caucasus, Moldova and Belarus.

Georgia was chosen as the site of the hub because of its favourable geographical position. “It is important to be close to the people and to our projects. From Georgia one can easily drive to Armenia and Azerbaijan or fly to Moldova”, says Davey.

The EBRD’s Early Transition Countries Initiative (ETC) whose main objective is to increase the bank’s impact and its reach in ETC countries which currently include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, the Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan uses a streamlined approach to financing medium scale private sector enterprises.

The ETC is aimed at mobilising more investment, and encouraging economic reform. The programme has been growing rapidly: It has increased from 18 projects worth €53mn in 2003 to 61 projects worth €250mn in 2005, with donor funds playing an important role as catalyst for investment.