On October 21, the official signing of the Cooperation Agreement between Financial Inclusion Organization Crystal and GIZ took place in Stamba Hotel Tbilisi, dedicated to enabling the implementation of Georgia’s forest sector reform – ECO.Georgia. The project consists of three components – (1) Sustainable forest management, (2) Market development for energy efficiency and alternative fuel and (3) Livelihood opportunities and local self-governance in forest management and aims at achieving 5 results. The Cooperation between Crystal and GIZ will contribute to Result 3 of the project: Self-sustaining level of growth of energy efficiency – reaching alternative fuels market (30% market share for energy-efficient stoves / 15% market share for alternative fuels).
The signing ceremony was opened by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia (MEPA) and attended by the representatives of Crystal and GIZ as well as the invited guests from the Rural Development Agency (RDA).
Within the scope of the cooperation, Crystal will contribute to one of the main activities: implementing consumer financing instruments for energy efficiency – alternative fuels solutions – by designing a special loan product and providing consumer financing for energy-efficient stoves in the form of loans for a total volume of 10,500,000€. To this end, Crystal will design a loan product and methodology that will allow all interested customers to easily purchase energy efficient stoves and alternative fuels for firewood through a loan, to be repaid in equal instalments.
Within the frame of the cooperation RDA will be responsible for design, implementation, and marketing of the voucher program for energy efficient stoves for households while Crystal will set up an energy-efficient stoves financing program in which the purchase of an energy-efficient stove will be financed through a loan.
Overall, the project covers 3 target regions of Georgia: Kakheti, Guria and Mtskheta-Mtianeti. The initiative is jointly financed by the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Georgian government, and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). Financial Inclusion Organization – Crystal will be contributing funds in the form of customer loans.
Over 7 years, the Government of Georgia, the National Forestry Agency (NFA), the Department of Environmental Supervision (DES), the Environmental Information and Education Centre (EIEIC), and the Rural Development Agency (RDA) in partnership with the German Development Corporation (GIZ) will be implementing the project’s three components.
Ilia Revia, Chief Executive Officer, said: “Our partnership with GIZ is crucially important in supporting Crystal’s strategic objective of caring about the environment. Crystal’s value creation model demonstrates the company’s triple bottom-line approach, which equally caters for financial, social and environmental outcomes. By offering EE alternatives to customers as part of the project, we aim to promote the financing of eco-friendly solutions, thereby contributing to reduction of negative impact on Georgia’s forests. Crystal being a company with wide regional network, significant number of customers and innovative financial services brings unique value proposition to the ECO.Georgia project.”
Karlo Amirgulashvili, Head of Biodiversity and Forestry Department, said: ,,The reform of the forest sector and deployment of modern energy-efficient technologies is a country priority. I am convinced that the involvement of the private sector, flexible banking operations and preferential loans will create excellent means to improve cooperation among the public and private sectors. At the same time, this will spark the interest of society in using climate-smart technologies and utilizing smart banking offers together with public services. Therefore, I would like to welcome cooperation with the private sector, particularly in the field of forest conservation and deployment of energy-efficient technologies. “
JSC MFO Crystal (‘Crystal’) is the leading financial inclusion organization and the largest by assets non-banking financial institution in Georgia. It manages the loan portfolio of GEL 364 million, employing more than 1,000 members of staff, operating through 49 branches, and serving more than 120,000 unique customers across Georgia. Crystal acts as a platform for economic development providing micro and small entrepreneurs and farmers with innovative financial products and services. Crystal is the first Fitch-rated non-banking financial institution in the region. In December 2018, Crystal received nation’s responsible business award “Meliora “. Crystal is also a recipient of the annual UN Global Compact Corporate Social Responsibility Awards in 2019 and 2020 under the following categories: Gender equality and Sustainable consumption and Production.