The FINANCIAL -- We spoke with Gia Alikhanashvili, CEO and owner of GAA Holding, in order to find out how GAA Holding responds to challenges of the modern day.
In the past century, industries were developing fast in Georgia and their motto was to improve through accumulating the maximum possible profit. This has changed today; businesses thrive when they are more human-oriented. This new reality is the main challenge of modernity. In the 21st century it’s the people, through smart usage of technologies, who improve economies and businesses. More and more companies achieve success through developing and harmonizing human resources, not by using them up. Therefore, modern businesses should be more staff-oriented and help them develop. GAA Holding has conducted its affairs with this philosophy for the past 25 years – social responsibility towards people and the individual as the basis for business development. For this reason, our companies boast realized professionals, who are leaders in their respective fields.
Q. Do you contribute to the development of social enterprises? Can you give your view on the future of social enterprises in Georgia?
A. We’re involved in multiple socially-oriented projects. We collaborated with UN Women last year, on a campaign oriented on combating violence against women, under the umbrella of He For She. McCann Tbilisi, which is part of the Holding, was a partner of this project and provided full creative and communication support to them.
In the future, a number of our companies will get involved in the green energy development business and release products which operate on solar energy. We hope that other organizations will join us as well.
Q. How can one change the attitude of Georgian companies towards CSR principles?
A. The changes need to be based on education, refining legislature and raising awareness. Without the combination of these three principles, substantial changes will not be possible.
Q. Can you tell us what the main obstacles are for CSR implementation at Georgian companies?
A. It is a welcoming fact that social responsibility projects are discussed on the public-sector level. Both the common populace and businesses will be able to get involved. For example, according to the new fiscal law, the import of transportation adapted to the needs of disabled people will not be excised. This, by itself, is a form of social responsibility – where the Government encourages positive behavior through reward.
Q. What are the main challenges for GAA Holding in terms of CSR development?
A. GAA Holding has announced its plans to work in the direction labelled GAA HOLDING GOING GREEN in 2018. We have maintained stability in this region for 25 years. Our main challenges are to perfect the quality of our products, to have a reasonable approach to new opportunities and to install digital, ecological technologies. Several projects are already underway – these include the import of JAC Motors electric cars, as well as offering electric-car services and solar conditioning technology, which does not use electricity or damage the ozone layer.
Q. From your point of view, which companies or sectors in Georgia could do more in terms of CSR than they do now?
A. Everybody has to step up their social responsibility duties. Development, auto, transport, heating and conditioning companies should be especially active though, as well as large factories, for obvious reasons. Everyone has to contribute to the social responsibility cause, for example through green projects, air pollution care, or by combating global warming. We welcome the fact that more attention is being dedicated to work safety regulation; this topic is extensively covered on our television channel, STV.
Q. GAA Holding is making its contribution to fighting fake news. Can you tell us about both the importance and challenges of this?
A. We’re proud to state that our media platform Stargroup, which includes TV channel STV and radio StarFM 93,9 , are independent outlets and broadcast only verified and accurate information. This is the first time in Georgia that Russian fake news has been combated through a special Russian language program.
We support Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic ambitions. For this reason, German national company Deutsche Welle selected us as partners and through our channel combats the propaganda propagated by various Russian sources. STV also broadcasts the reliable and fact-checked Deutsche Welle programme.
Q. Environmental protection is one of the main focuses of CSR globally. Air pollution in Tbilisi is critical and exceeds the norm by around 100 times, according to WHO. Can you explain why this issue is not being addressed and why businesses are not interfering in the situation?
A. Unfortunately, most of the Georgian companies operate according to older schemes – maximum profit over a short period of time. This makes them rather indifferent to ecology. The Government does not yet have an effective mechanism or legislature to force the business sector to take on a more sustainable approach. If the obligations put forward by the European Union Association Agreement are followed, this problem will gradually be eliminated.
Today, like never before, we’re standing on the brink of an ecological catastrophe, especially in Tbilisi. Sena Auto, a member of GAA Holding, added a green line, becoming one of the first to import fully-electric cars onto the Georgian market, at the same time offering guaranteed and technical services.
JAC Motors, Chinese automotive giant, is our partner and produces all types of vehicles. Our goal is to get more people interested in electric cars. The Government relieved electric cars from customs payment, which was a step in the right direction.
GAA Holding does everything to promote innovative, eco-friendly and renewable energy development. We try to do our best and be an example on the Georgian market.
Written By David Aleksidze, The FINANCIAL