The Near East Foundation‘s Women’s Empowerment and Advocacy (WEEA) project continues to make great strides in supporting survivors of domestic violence in Armenia. Training and support is provided for women who want to find employment and for those who want to start microenterprises.
NEF has now trained 30 participants on how to write a CV and prepare for a job interview; strengthen time and risk management skills; and learn about Armenian labor laws and rights, has enabled many women to become productive participants in the labor market.
After gaining basic work skills, the women were then able to build professional networks, identify jobs in their chosen fields, and with the help of the project expert, negotiate with prospective employers. As a result, 24 women found jobs in different sectors of the labor market as nurses, managers, cleaners, bakers, hairdressers, and sale managers.
NEF’s WEEA project has enabled women to find job security and financial independence by building a distinguished network of potential employers who were willing and eager to work with them. To date, the project has helped women find jobs that pay up to $400 per month, a decent wage in Armenia. A recent survey shows that the participation in the project has also significantly increased women’s self-confidence and helped them have a more positive outlook on their future. Often, the main beneficiaries of the WEEA project are single mothers who are the sole provider for their families.
When thirty-five-year-old Anahit found out she was pregnant, she began receiving threats from her partner and his family. The relentless conflict made Anahit’s environment unbearable, and she was quickly referred to a shelter run by one of Near East Foundation’s local partners. Once safe and secure, Anahit began attending trainings on domestic violence to help process her trauma. Additionally, as her due date approached, she received parenting guidance, as well as financial and health assistance to prepare her for her new role as a mother.
By the time her daughter was born, Anahit had found work as a manicurist. However, with a new baby to provide for, Anahit aspired for something more. It was this inclination that propelled her to join NEF’s Women’s Economic Empowerment and Advocacy (WEEA) project.
Anahit’s background in cosmetology gave her a marketable skill, and through NEF’s trainings, she learned business strategies such as planning and budgeting. With this new knowledge, she was able to acquire a small grant from NEF to start her own laser hair removal business. One of the best parts of Anahit’s business is the work-from-home component, a desirable element for a mother with a new baby.
NEF’s WEEA project works with survivors of domestic violence like Anahit, to provide them with skills and resources they need to become economically independent. The initiative aims to assist at least fifty women experiencing domestic violence in Armenia with skills, resources, and support networks to reach economic independence and advocate for economic rights. Ultimately, women have the option of choosing whether to find employment or begin a microenterprise.
Today, Anahit is able to financially support herself and her daughter. “I never knew that I was capable of being so goal-oriented,” she said. “I’m back on my feet again, and I’m not dependent on anyone. I can take care of my baby and myself.”
So far, NEF has worked with 36 women who are now operating viable microenterprise projects and hold sustainable employment positions.
THANK YOU for supporting this critical work to help women survivors of domestic violence in Armenia gain skills and earn an income so they can build a new life for their families!
*Anahit is a fictional name used to protect her identity.
After nine years of abuse and harassment by her husband, Mane never imagined that she could find the power not only to stand-up for she and her kids but also to start her own business.
But that’s exactly what happened after she went from a hospital to a women’s shelter where her life turned a corner. At the shelter, run by one of the Near East Foundation’s local partners, she learned about an initiative to help women survivors of domestic violence earn an income and become financially independent.
Mane shared her skills and love for baking with project leaders, who guided her in developing a business plan to produce cakes. Through business planning and management trainings, Mane acquired the skills she would need to be a successful entrepreneur. She also researched consumer demand in her area and learned that the products she hoped to offer were highly requested in the local market.
With start-up equipment and materials provided by NEF, Mane launched her business to great acclaim. She makes pakhlava and gata with a famous recipe from the Gavar Region for 4 different stores in Yerevan.
Mane beams when talking about her cakes and starting her own home-based business: ‘’The taste of my product is special; it is the best. This was my idea and the most important thing is that now I have business skills... Training helped me understand that I am able to work for myself and make an income for me and my children,’’ she said.
Because Mane’s cakes are so popular, more stores are requesting to sell them. Only a few weeks after launching her business, Mane is already planning to expand production volume to satisfy market demand.
This is exciting for Mane, who has used the $60 in income she earned so far to buy materials for production and still had some leftover to devote to her personal needs.
‘’Yes, now I am busy with my business and my favorite job. I like baking. This business helps me not only in getting financial sustainability and caring for my family, it also helps me forget the hard times I had to live through for so long.’’
Through her work with NEF’s entrepreneurship program, Mane is gradually recovering the energy, self-confidence, and motivation to work that she had lost during the difficult years in her abusive home. She continues to receive business mentoring from project leaders and is part of a social support network with other women survivors turned entrepreneurs.
Now she and her daughter live safely with her parents and, as her mom helps with the baking, Mane is beginning to take a leadership role in supporting her entire family.
Another survivor of domestic violence in Armenia has become a successful businesswoman thanks to your generous support. Alis now has a thriving nail-art business. She is earning up to US$350 per month doing something she loves.
From an early age, Alis was interested in arts and crafts. She later became fascinated with manicuring and nail art – she found it to be a useful outlet for expressing her emotions. Unfortunately, the turmoil in her life prevented her from even thinking about getting any formal technical training, let alone starting her own business.
Alis was grateful to find the help she needed from the Women’s Support Center – where women needing to escape violent relationships can access counseling and shelter services. The Near East Foundation (NEF) is partnering with the Center to help 50 of their visitors gain financial independence through either job readiness or business training and start-up support.
The NEF project was the perfect opportunity for Alis. She took part in a business training workshop and became determined to build a small business of her own. The project paid the fees for a nail care and design course so she could perfect her technical skills. Impressed with her enthusiasm and dedication, project staff then provided Alis with seed money to purchase basic equipment to get her business started.
“If it weren’t for this program, for the encouragement and the financial support I would never have taken the risk of starting a business on my own. I hope many other women have this opportunity in the future.”
Ten more women have just started the next business training course and Alis is helping these survivors to see that it is possible to start a new life.
* Due to the sensitive nature of this program, we are unable to use real names or show pictures of beneficiaries. But we are able to show off Alis’s work in the above photo.
Since our last report, twelve Armenian women who are survivors of domestic violence have received training in business planning and management thanks to your generous support.
Four of the women have already launched their own small businesses!
“This project has helped me start a new chapter in my life. Thanks to my new business, I will be able to provide for myself and for my children’s livelihood by doing my favorite activity,” shared one beneficiary who is now earning an income with her sewing skills.
NEF is economically empowering Armenian women survivors of domestic abuse by helping them gain the vocational and business skills to sustain themselves financially. Women participate in workshops and trainings before developing a business plan. The women choose their business focus themselves based on their respective skills and interests.
Once their business plan is reviewed and approved for financing, the women receive guidance from a business coach who advises them through the start-up phase and helps them strengthen their business network. The coach also organizes visits to similar businesses to allow the women to observe how a viable business operates.
Four more women will soon receive financial support to launch their businesses after receiving additional training. The businesses range in focus from cosmetology to embroidery and agriculture.
Thanks to your generosity, the women receiving this support can escape the cycle of abuse occurring in their homes and take control of their lives.
A beneficiary who started a manicuring business shared, “I’ve learned the skills on how to organize my business, and I’ve also acquired all the necessary items to start my business. Now I will no longer be dependent on my husband’s income, and I can live separately with my kids without fear of abuse by him. I clearly understand the importance of this award for women like me, so I plan to get only the most important items for my business to save the funds for other women.’’
The women’s enthusiasm for the project is growing as they see tangible results in their financial situations and begin to gain economic independence. Your donation is helping them to move forward with increasing confidence towards a new life for their families. THANK YOU!
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