The 2019 SDG Pioneer of Georgia

For more than 17 years – together with her mother and brother – she lived in a small room in a communal, sub-standard living space, as a refugee/IDP (Internally Displaced Person) from Abkhazia, now break-away territory of Georgia. Maya now speaks six languages; obtained full scholarships and studied in the following Universities: Ilia State University/Georgia, Humboldt University/Germany, University of Tartu/Estonia, Jagiellonian University and University of Lodz/Poland). In addition, her curiosity and desire to learn and discover more about the women empowerment and social impact carried her to Zambia – the furthest (from Georgia) so far.

Maya thrives in an environment where she can make a difference. With this belief, she tries to find every situation as a platform to make a positive impact – no matter how difficult a situation may seem at that particular moment. Holding up to this positive belief helped her overcome damaging effects of two armed conflicts (one in 1992 and another in 2008) that she had unintendedly had to witness despite her young age.

But she believes that if, against all odds, she managed not to give up and to gradually create the positive, contagious change inside the communities and within the people she cooperates with, then anyone can.

Maya was provided with the opportunity to realize her goals of bringing positive change to her country through her work at Crystal. She is responsible for the Environmental and Social impact measurement, overall CSR performance of the Company as well as youth and women economic empowerment. She advances the SDGs through different Programs and Projects, within Crystal, related to: women economic empowerment in cooperation with the UN Women Georgia (Goal 5: Gender Equality), youth financial literacy via Crystal’s Youth Entrepreneurship School in cooperation with the USAID/Georgia (Goal 8: Decent Work & Economic Growth) as well as reducing environmental impact through Crystal’s Green Products, developed in cooperation with the Dutch Development Bank FMO (Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy).

Crystal, participant company of the UN Global Compact since 2011, was one of the first financial institutions in the regions of Georgia, which focused on combating poverty and incorporated SDGs in its mission. Crystal has been hugely contributing to the Georgian economy by empowering youth through its Youth Entrepreneurship School since 2016 (in cooperation with USAID/Georgia). Maya has been successfully leading the women economic empowerment programs within Crystal, the Company that employs 1000+ staff members and 100,000 customers, actively cooperating on WEPs – Women Empowerment Principles. Maya and her team brought the main Award to Crystal – Grand-Prize of the “Most Responsible Company of the Year 2018” as well as Award in the UN SDG Goal5 – Gender Equality.

Most recently the USAID/Georgia and Crystal Fund in partnership with JSC Microfinance Organization Crystal announced an expanded partnership to empower women entrepreneurs in Georgia. The partners intend to contribute more than $1 million in new funding to Supporting Youth Entrepreneurial Skills for Advancing Employability and Income Generation in Georgia (YES-Georgia/Youth Entrepreneurship School). The above-mentioned Project was selected by the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Fund, part of the U.S. government’s broader W-GDP initiative. It was one of 14 activities selected worldwide and the only one from the Europe and Eurasia region. The project will work to reach around 2,000 women through training and access to non-financial and accounting services as well as mentoring opportunities.

While operating in around 65 Georgian cities and villages, Maya’s intent together with Crystal’s Management Team is to increase the understanding of responsible lending and the crucial role of the women’s and youth’s participation in crafting sustainable development. Maya lead the Microfinanza’s Social Rating process in 2018-2019, which successfully completed in May, 2019 with Global Rating Agency MFR (MicroFinanza) assigning Crystal the Grade: ‘A-‘.

According to the CEO of Crystal, Mr. Ilia Revia “Crystal is proud to be the first company in the region to issue Women’s Bonds and sign UN Women’s WEPs. We were also the first financial institution in the region to include SDG #1: No Poverty, into our mission and we are planning to achieve it through helping our customers to improve their economic productivity, via developing critical hard and soft skills and building up their networks. We are thrilled to encourage committed young leaders – like Maya – in promoting Sustainable Development Goals within the company and Georgia overall, as finding local solutions to global challenges requires equipment of such young and thoughtful change-makers with more powerful tools and skills. Maya, as a sustainable business champion, wholeheartedly believes in her commitment and in the positive impact of sustainable business.”