Greenhouse of Dreams
In the Shinda Kartli region of Georgia, an IOM Social Enterprise Programme that works to foster the social integration and employment prospects of vulnerable migrants and locals has adapted its approach after feedback from innovative and motivated participants.
Davit* and his four friends, all men in their thirties, huddle around the floor plan of their new greenhouse. His friends shout out the names of vegetables they want to harvest as Davit draws up different areas of the greenhouse to grow them. Davit smiles, as this was his dream. The five men had all been part of IOM Georgia’s Social Enterprise Programme, a six-month programme for migrants and locals with a history of substance abuse that aims to ready them for employment and help place them in jobs.
But Davit was worried about his future. He feared he would not be hired given his past drug and legal problems. He also felt that the programme itself was too short in duration, and did not offer sufficient support for participants like himself, with an entrepreneurial spirit who wanted to start their own business.
When an IOM project officer came to one of the programme workshops for a monitoring visit, Davit told her about his concerns, explained his idea for a greenhouse and described one of his main hurdles: access to start-up funds.
Impressed with Davit’s motivation and recognizing the programme’s limitations, the officer presented his proposal to the rest of the IOM team. They decided to assist.
IOM project staff began counselling Davit and his friends on developing a business plan and facilitated the process of securing a loan for the greenhouse. Soon, the initiative took off.
The IOM project officer says Davit’s concerns and feedback led them to expand the programme to support business start-up ideas and extend the length of the programme for individuals who need it.
"IOM helped us create something of our own," Davit explains. "For a long time I felt like I had no options, but having my own business makes me feel human again."