Crystal’s Mission and Vision
Crystal is a development platform for micro and small entrepreneurs, which aims to defeat poverty in Georgia by promoting entrepreneurship in a financially, socially and environmentally sustainable manner.
Crystal’s mission statement is the most direct articulation of our ambition to eliminate poverty in Georgia in an environmentally sustainable fashion. It also outlines the core areas of focus that drive our commercial operations. They make clear that our objective is to promote shared prosperity through the support of sustainable entrepreneurship. These efforts are underpinned by a commitment to advocating social and financial inclusion, limiting economic burdens on future generations and protecting the planet that we live on, as well as its people and resources.
The unifying focus of our efforts is reducing poverty in Georgia. The global challenge posed by climate change means that this must be achieved in an environmentally sustainable manner, reducing our own operational footprint while supporting national and international efforts to raise awareness and drive societal change. Driven by this mission, Crystal supports stronger collective action to address equity in sustainable development, reflected in our strong organisational focus on women’s economic empowerment. We also support decisive action on climate change mitigation and adaptation, recognising that this is a pressing issue to protect finite resources. This commitment is reflected in the environmental goals of both Crystal and Crystal Fund, as well as our environmental impact measurement.
Our mission is integrated directly into our corporate strategy through the pursuit of a Triple Bottom Line: People, Planet and Profit. This approach demands business decisions based on balance. We strive to equally address the needs of our stakeholders, the planet we live on, and the financial soundness of our customers, with no individual factor compromising the other two. Individual strategic goals are attributed to each core factor, outlined in full in our Corporate Strategy Document (2019-2023). Their achievement is supported by impactful environmental and social projects, delivered in partnership with Crystal Fund, with a thematic focus on Women’s Economic Empowerment and Youth Entrepreneurship.
Awards and Recognitions
We are proud to have received several national and international recognitions for our ESG work, including the following:
- The Most Responsible Company of the Year (2018)
- CSR Award in Gender Equality (2019
- SDG Young Pioneer Award winner (2019)
- Best Annual Report and Transparency Award (2019)
- A- Social Rating (2019)
Environmental Impact Measurement
The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has asserted that “increased and urgent mitigation measures” are required to slow current levels of warming, and that warming of over 1.5°C could cause “irreversible loss of the most fragile ecosystems”. The transition to a low-carbon economy should thus be a key priority for business leaders and governments alike. It is critical for Crystal to use its skills, assets and operations to accelerate solutions to major environmental problems. Crystal achieves this via three main avenues: our green financing initiative; the promotion of our own “green product line”; and a concerted effort to achieve carbon neutrality by 2023 by calculating and reducing our own operational footprint.
Crystal launched its green financing initiative in 2017 in the scope of targeted investment by FMO. The priority of the portfolio is to raise widespread public awareness of low carbon alternatives and improve their accessibility. As of 2020, the portfolio stands at 7.6 million GELS, having disbursed over 7400 green loans, and our corporate strategy stipulates that this will increase to 50 million GELS by 2023.A crucial component of the initiative is the promotion of Crystal’s green product line. The first challenge was the lack of awareness of green products, both among Crystal employees and in the wider community. Awareness raising campaigns started within Crystal as introductory presentations took place in each branch. The next stage, supported by technical assistance from FMO, focused on driving uptake of green alternatives from Crystal customers, promoting the financial and environmental benefits of their use.
Currently, the focus is on promoting the benefits of 7 key low-carbon emitting alternatives:
- Eco-friendly building materials;
- Electric and Hybrid cars;
- Energy efficient home appliances, including more efficient lightbulbs, washing machines and other white good;
- Central heating systems;
- Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) systems;
- Drip irrigation systems;
- Renewable energy technology- (solar water heaters, solar panels);
Social Impact Measurement
Crystal’s Social Impact Measurement is the most direct way by which we ensure that our services are positively affecting our customers. The full methodology for this reporting is outlined in the Social Impact Measurement Report. Since 2018, this impact assessment has been undertaken in Q1 using the methodology outlined below and detailed in full in the Social Impact Assessment Report. Data is collected from a large, representative sample of Crystal customers, by a combination of a quantitative survey and qualitative assessment in the form of structured interviews and focus groups. The social impact measurement includes two sets of indicators (business and household), which were first used in 2017. These indicators, with minor modification, have been used since 2018 to record social impact. The impact is measured for business customers (those with greater than 25% of household income in entrepreneurial activity) who have maintained a relationship with Crystal for over two years.
Women’s Economic Empowerment
Since 2019, MFO Crystal has included women’s economic empowerment as one of the key focus areas for its ESG activity. Crystal is one of only five Georgian companies who have supported the United Nations’ Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) since their creation. Our HR and people related policies and procedures ensure gender equality throughout the company; of which 52% of employees are female (approximately 500). We also support the development of leadership skills for female employees through various activities (training, workshops, sexual harassment reporting mechanisms, etc.)
Beyond our business operations, we work with our charitable subsidiary Crystal Fund to implement innovative and impactful projects promoting women’s empowerment, creating meaningful avenues for women to access financing, training and support. This thematic focus was expanded in 2019, as MFO Crystal supported Crystal Fund to implement the large-scale USAID Program Supporting Youth and Women Entrepreneurship in Georgia (YES-Georgia) as an extension of the previous USAID program Youth Entrepreneurial Skills for Advancing Employability and Income Generation in Georgia.
USAID announced that YES-Georgia would be revised with additional support from the W-GDP Initiative. The only program in Europe and Eurasia to be selected, the American people are investing $840,000 in additional funding to support women entrepreneurship through YES-Georgia. The program has honed its focus to confront the specific challenges that face female entrepreneurs, including two new components that take a bold and holistic approach to driving women’s economic empowerment:
- Youth Entrepreneur School will continue to recruit, train, and finance young entrepreneurs from across Georgia. The intensive training program is focused on real-world relevance and results in a final competition for financing.
- Buzz Georgia will turn buses into mobile business education centres, driving to remote communities to deliver training on financial management, entrepreneurship and leadership.
- Crystal Consulting delivers targeted business consultancy, accountancy services and legal advice to high-potential female entrepreneurs looking to scale-up established ventures
The USAID program Youth Entrepreneurial Skills for Advancing Employability and Income Generation in Georgia (YES – Georgia) was implemented by Crystal Fund in 2015-2018 in cooperation with JSC MFO Crystal, PH International and Junior Achievement. Since then, it has been consistently creating tangible impact for young entrepreneurs across Georgia. The program aimed to build institutional frameworks and models that facilitated greater economic participation of youth through increased opportunities for self- employment by starting enterprises and for employment in established companies (Total budget of the program: $443,000).
To date, the program has delivered the following achievements:
- Supported more than 3,000 young entrepreneurs and professionals, roughly 60% of whom are women;
- Mobilized $230 million from private and public funds to support youth-owned microenterprises and startups;
- Assisted over 200 young people to draft business proposals and apply for financing;
- Launched the Youth Micro Equity mechanism, which has already provided financing to 55 youth-owned pilot enterprises;
- Within a special program to promote entrepreneurship in schools, benefitting more than 500 schoolchildren the majority of which are female; and
- Supported on-the-job training and internship programs at 90 different companies and organizations. As a result, more than 200 youth participants have gone on to obtain permanent employment.
Crystal’s approach to financial inclusion is governed in line with our own stringent principles and standards, while adhering to the requirements of good governance as laid out by the National Bank of Georgia’s Corporate Governance Code for Commercial Banks. We also model our conduct on the high international standards set by the UK Corporate Governance Code. We implement several measures to reaffirm our organisational commitment to strong governance practices as outlined in both codes, including the Comply or Disclose” principle. Crystal’s organisational structure supports the achievement of its strategic goals and long-term mission, while safeguarding its corporate values. Crystal is headed by the Supervisory Board (SB). The SB is collectively responsible for the long-term success of the company, working to deliver our mission and strategic goals in line with our values. The specific role of the SB is to annually assess the achievement of our corporate strategy and reflect on the targets for the following year. They assign a set of primary and secondary strategic milestones to each Chief Officer, who oversee the translation of these milestones into action plans for Crystal’s business or structural units.
The roles of the Board and of the Chairman are clearly distinguished from the responsibilities of the management team. The Chairman is responsible for the leadership of the board ensuring its effectiveness in all its aspects. All significant changes to the Chairman’s role or responsibilities are clearly recorded and reported in our Annual Report. The full mandate of the Supervisory Board is outlined in the Supervisory Board Recruitment Policy and procedures, which is used to define its role and responsibilities and to regulate its activities. It sets forth procedures, communication rules, and provides guidance on the management of conflicts of interests, as well as rules for the appointment and resignation of members. Detailed reporting on Crystal’s board activity is provided annually in the Annual Report, with specific attention paid to board composition, specific activities throughout the financial year, and any policy updates. Our most recent independent audit was conducted by Deloitte, with KPMG conducting the procedure for the previous three years