Georgian Students For Liberty has been active in for about six years, and its growth and expansion would likely not be possible without the hard work and initiative of co-founder Lia Janelidze.
Lia is a Business student at the Agricultural University of Georgia. She is the former Black Sea Regional Director and currently serves as the South Caucasus Regional Director for European Students For Liberty, a region that includes her home country of Georgia as well as Armenia and Azerbaijan. She helped to create Georgian SFL in 2012, and unlike some SFL leaders in other regions, Lia and her co-founders were not met with much resistance from suspicious university administrators.
In fact, the Agricultural University of Georgia is very supportive of student activities, and the administrators are open-minded. This open environment did not make it any easier for Lia and her co-founders to establish SFL. There was plenty of competition for students’ time and attention. However, Lia thrives in this competitive environment, and she helped Georgia SFL to grow into one of the most effective student groups in the entire SFL network. After six years of hard work, Georgia SFL won Group of the Year in 2018 and is currently comprised of more than twenty active Coordinators.
“What helps us grow is establishing in-person contact with students through small events. That’s how we managed to recruit high-quality leaders and attract hundreds of attendees for our regional conferences. We leverage social media to grow our reach, for sure, like Facebook groups but meeting people in person really helps to connect with them.”
Moreover, Lia has been a fundraising champion for Georgian Students For Liberty, helping to secure funding for their expansion. Lia helped to grow the group’s revenue from US$3,000 in 2015 to US$30,000 in 2018. She was also able to secure funding for the largest Regional Conference ever held in Europe with over 900 participants in Tbilisi. Her fundraising also supported the hosting of a plain-packaged “No Nanny Store” in Tbilisi Mall with the Consumer Choice Center to raise awareness about the high costs of paternalistic policies, especially tobacco regulations, in Georgia.
“Students For Liberty has taught me the value of collaboration. Instead of seeing other groups simply as competition, we saw them as partners. These partnerships helped Georgian SFL to reach more students than we would have if we didn’t work with other groups and recruit from them.”
In addition to her work with European Students For Liberty, Lia manages an international co-working space called Impact Hub, where she works with entrepreneurs to help get their start-ups off the ground.
Lia was nominated for the Student of the Year Award at LibertyCon in 2019.