Thursday, May 18, 2006

The start in Georgia

Okay, now that I've been in Tbilisi for almost a week, I figure I should put something in here. The trouble is, I don't have that much to add yet. This is a beautiful city, and I hear that other parts of the country are absolutely breathtaking. I haven't yet had a chance to see much of it, though. Work keeps me tied up for about 12 hours a day, lately. I anticipate that once we finish our current project I'll get a little bit of down time. I'm actually living in the boss's home for the time being. I figure that's got to be fixed sooner rather than later. Housing in the city isn't too painfully expensive. Most of it looks really ghetto though; apartment buildings and flats look like they've been pieced together from a variety of Georgian, Soviet, and more modern architectural styles. Most of these styles are evident even within one building or flat. The food is just as good as advertised, but it is extremely rich and can start to wear on me after a while. A British guy that I met out here put it aptly when he said that there are only really two types of the famous local cheese: rubbery, and salty... and of course various combinations of the two. My family's concerns that I will die of starvation are no more legitimate out here than they were back in the states. I just won't look to be entering any Charles Atlas competitions any time soon. That'll come later.

For information on what I'm up to, check out the company website at We're currently workig on a bank downscaling project in Bangladesh. Although the microfinance industry essentially began in Bangladesh during the 1970s (making financial services more widely available to the poor in Bangladesh than almost any other country in the world), few financial services are currently targeted at the middle class. Large companies and small microentreprenuers have access to credit, but small and medium enterprises don't fit either model of lending particularly well, so they currently go relatively unserviced. BFC is doing an analysis of the current banking industry, including case studies of local banks, to make recommendations to the large banks to downscale to service the missing middle. We'll make a final report to the World Bank in a few weeks, which will probably be made publicly available later on. Catch it then.

For now, I've got to get back to work.

ps On a completely unrelated note, check out the Hot-Dog eating championship. Finally a "sport" that caters to ordinary Americans.


Andrew said...

Hot dog, we've got a wiener.

blake said...

Hey Jeremy, it was good to hear from you. My brother is actually on a plane as we speak, flying to Tbilisi via Istanbul. The couple there are my brother's in-laws and he and his wife are going out to visit them. Hope you get to see them at church or something. Thanks for the line!