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Interview with IWA Georgia

By Mariam Chanishvili
Tuesday, November 26
International Women’s Organization (IWAG) was founded in 1996 by a small group of expats and Georgian women living in Tbilisi. Their primary aim was to welcome new members of the diplomatic missions and expats coming to Tbilisi, help them settle in the city.

Later on, it became a charity organization. After 2017, it’s officially a charity organization. Even though IWA Georgia is part of the international women organizations of other countries, but it has this unique feature – the charity status.

The main goal is to organize charitable events and fundraisers for the public benefit of Georgia. Other goals feature as follows: To welcome and assist newcomers to Georgia, to foster goodwill and friendship among its members, to introduce them to Georgian culture by organizing cultural and social events.

All the ladies’ help and work of the association is on a voluntary basis.

The Messenger had a chance to interview IWA President, Lila Yiannakaki-Karabalis and IWA Vice President/CPC Chair, Margret Schmidt

What is your main role and which of your event or projects would you highlight?

The main goal is to help people in need all over Georgia with small projects. Our main fundraising event is the Winter Fair. We don’t have income or funding from other sources. The proceeds of the Winter Fair are going to projects.

We have several projects and different sections: Focus projects, Community projects and Individual projects.

We have supported a kindergarten in Gurjaani. It was a big project because there was a big need for construction, renovation. They had very dangerous furniture for the kids, so we also donated for the furniture and the smallest beds.

We also had another important project in the West of Georgia. It was against breast cancer and we just had an anniversary for them. It was called “Cancer Survival” and it was very emotional.

We are also funding individuals, they can apply on our website.

We try to spread our small funds to focus on projects. This year’s focus project is Education and Learning for a Better Future. So this is the topic and motto of the Winter Fair 2019.

There are also community projects. Now we are supporting a small school in Keda. They want to learn more about chemistry and we are financing a small laboratory. It will increase motivation and make learning clearer and easier.

What is the Winter Fair?

This year, the Fair will be held at the Sheraton Grand Tbilisi Metechi Palace on November 30 from 10:00-18:00.

We started organizing in September: the venue, the Embassies, the vendors, etc. We have 24 Embassies, Consulate and International Organizations participating. It’s the same concept as in previous years. There are traditional foods and other products from different countries. We are going to have IWA’s choir during the opening.

From one side we will have Georgian vendors selling their handcrafts and Embassies and Organizations.

We are very excited because it’s our 20th anniversary. It’s great to have it as an institution and an event that is organized annually.

We would like to thank everyone who is participating and helping to organize the Winter Fair.

How do you manage to find members for the Association?

The existence of the organization is spread already among the expats. We also share information on our website and Facebook page.

Georgia is hosting us and practically, if they want to help and give back to Georgia, this is one of the ways.

Even though the members are constantly changing, we still have one sustainable member, Nana Dvali, who is the founder of the IWAG. She assures the continuity of IWAG.

What are other ways of fundraising for the Association?

So, as we have already mentioned, the Winter Fair is the biggest fundraising event, but we are trying to collect money all year round. For example, we danced – we did the Georgian dance last year and collected the money to increase the funds for the Georgian people in need.

IWA has 20 interest groups. For example art crafts group – and we are thinking that maybe if we have enough items, we could organize an auction, but this will not be a public event.

Can you tell me more about the individual applications?

This year, we translated the online application to Georgian, because we realized that not everybody can speak or read in English. It was a big thing because we are an International Women’s Association, but we are in a Georgian-speaking country. People can find application forms on

Organizations or individuals who would like to apply for a grant from the Community Projects Committee (CPC) are requested to use the respective application forms. Through the CPC, IWA Georgia improves the lives of women, children, and the elderly, as well as persons who are vulnerable, disabled, sick, and needy. This shall include the support of prevention programs. All supported projects shall fall into one of these areas of interest and must have a direct, positive effect on Georgian citizens.

During the monthly meetings, we, the members discuss the applications and future projects. We have regulations and guidelines. We just renewed the guidelines; more than 23 years of experience brings a lot of changes and we are developing ourselves.

There is a different application form for NGOs, also available on our website.

We don’t want to be a drop in the ocean, we want to be supporting some sustainable projects and that’s the reason why we are choosing very carefully everything we do.