In the picturesque village of Gavazi in Kvareli Municipality of Georgia, a story of resilience and determination unfolds through the life of Dali Tetrashvili. After spending 15 years abroad, Dali returned to her homeland with a dream to start anew. 

Thanks to IOM Georgia’s “Sustainable Reintegration and Community Revitalization Pilot Initiative,” which is supported by the IOM Development Fund and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Dali’s dream became a successful sewing business, that provides not only income but also inspiration for many.

15 years ago, Dali, like many others, left Georgia for Greece seeking better opportunities for her family amidst economic challenges and socio-economic vulnerabilities. However, returning migrants often find themselves with limited capital and a sense of disconnection from their place of origin. IOM’s Integrated Approach to Reintegration addresses this by providing support at the individual, community, and structural levels, ensuring sustainable reintegration for returnees and fostering the development of the communities of return.

Once it was time for her to come back, she used all her knowledge and experience to build a social enterprise in her hometown. With funding through the IOM Development Fund supported project, she bought several sewing machines and materials and started offering various goods to the local market, including linens for hospitals and kindergarten, uniforms as well as individual orders.

“I love my work and I believe it can inspire other women to find their path here, at home, rather than seeking opportunities elsewhere,” says Dali. 

Dali's story is not only about individual achievement, but also about empowering the community. She started a teaching program, providing affordable courses for housewives with no income, young people, returned migrants and students of all ages and genders. With years of experience as a sewing teacher, Dali is not deterred by the prospect of competition. Instead, she sees it as an opportunity for collaboration on joint projects.

“Through our support for individuals like Dali, we strive not only to empower migrants for a sustainable return but also to showcase the valuable contributions and benefits they bring to their local communities with their rich human capital and experience,” – comments Sanja Celebic Lukovac, Chief of Mission of IOM Georgia.

From 2016 to 2020, over 110,000 Georgian citizens have returned home, with the number of returns rising in the subsequent years. However, due to limited reintegration opportunities provided through the Georgia’s State Reintegration Programme, IOM and other service providers, very few returnees can receive specialized reintegration support and assistance, often facing various post-return challenges such as unemployment, skills mismatch, social stigma, and psychosocial distress. 

IOM is committed to enhancing infrastructure and capacity at both national and local levels, thereby improving access to information and counseling for returned migrants, and to support services which can enhance their reintegration prospects. The Municipal Service Hubs, established by IOM in partnership with local governments, function as direct reference centers for returnees and for those migrants still abroad who are considering returning.

A year into her venture, Dali’s workshop has become a trusted source for local businesses, receiving regular orders from the various clinics and kindergartens in her home village and neighboring villages. Her dedication to teaching the craft has already touched the lives of three students, with plans to welcome more.

Dali’s vision goes even further. Dali intends to implement a zero-waste policy in her production, as well as share her experience with other social enterprises. 

Dali Tetrashvili with her student in Gavaza, Georgia. IOM Georgia/2024