Collective Economy

In both Armenia and Georgia, evidence of the failed economic policies of both the Soviet Union and the new countries are abundant. Empty factories are part of the landscape, built by the Soviets, bought by shady businessmen, stripped of everything that could be sold, and then left to decay in a way that only Jan Jörnmark can appreciate.
In the countryside, large abandoned farmhouses can be found in many areas. They are the results of the kolkhoz policy requiring villages to give up their private land to focus on one kind of farming, often irrespectively of what the land was suited for. However, the transition from the Soviet centrally planned economy to a market economy has not been easy. Not every family was prepared for the sudden responsibility for all the tasks involved in farming, leaving a substantial part of the rural population longing for the old times.

Mistakes were also made regarding the major industries and infrastructures, creating private oligopolies instead of having a healthy mix of a large number of both private and public bodies. Monopolies and oligopolies hold about 60 % of Armenia’s market, according to a new World Bank report "Republic of Armenia: Accumulation, Competition, and Connectivity.

In Georgia, the Law on Competition came into force in September 2014 and is supposed to be enforced by The Competition Agency. Since Georgia is very much pro-EU, the law is strongly influenced by EU legislation and reflects concepts from contemporary EU rules and practices. However, not everybody is convinced they are doing a good job.
From Caucasus Highlights 2015
The idea of villages specialising their production has been taken up in other contexts. Japan's OVOP initiative inspired Thailand to introduce the OTOP movement resulting in, among other things, really lovely scarves now in my home. In EU, the Smart Specialisation strategies are spreading, thankfully designed as a bottom-up process and supported by the S3 platform.

Today, there is again much talk about collective economy, although in a somewhat different shape. Maybe there is something to learn from this movement also for the South Caucasus countries and they probably have insights to share. Inspiration can be found everywhere: In Sweden, the Forum for Social Innovation Sweden recently released an ABC in collaborative economy (in Swedish). If you live in Gothenburg, you can join the new Collaborative Economy Göteborg Association. If you're more into going to France, I recommend the next OuiShare Fest in Paris in May.

One aspect of collective economy is the sharing economy trend. It's really easy to get lost in this area where there is a big difference between companies like Uber and Airbnb, making loads of money, and voluntary associations or initiatives not earning a penny. I recommend reading the report "The Sharing Economy - Embracing Change With Caution".

A favourite sharing initiative right now is the Fruktförmedlingen (The Fruit Agency) where you can see where you can get fruit for free in Sweden.
From Höstmarknad sep 2014

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