New Income Opportunities for vulnerable Armenians


The first business skills training sessions begin this month (October) for the women taking part in NEF’s newest initiative in Armenia.

Over the next 18 months, some 50 women will be trained in business and job skills in space provided by SME Development National Center of Armenia, so that these survivors of domestic violence will be able to start their own businesses or find jobs that will lead to their economic independence.

This quarter also saw NEF complete its assessment of the economy and labor market for the city of Yerevan.

The training follows focus groups that NEF and its partners conducted to determine the women’s existing job skills and to better understand why they want to start a business or what they are looking for in a job. 

THANK YOU for supporting this program! Helping women gain skills that will lead to employment may help them find alternatives to their abusive homes.

NEF is making progress in the launch of our new initiative to economically empower women who are experiencing domestic violence in Armenia by helping them develop the capacity to financially support their families.

During the next 18 months, NEF and its local partners will support at least 50 Armenian women by providing them with training in job and advocacy skills, as well as assist them in securing employment. Our goal is to help the women achieve economic independence and provide them with alternatives to returning to abusive environments.

Recently we’ve conducted focus groups with potential participants to gain insight into their current skills and abilities, and to understand their motivation to work or to start a business.

We’re also nearing completion of a regional economic assessment and labor market assessment for the city of Yerevan.

Combined, these research efforts will help us determine the most viable business and job opportunities for women experiencing domestic violence in the urban and rural project areas. This information will help us design training and other activities that meet the women’s needs and provide them with skills that will match opportunities in the local job market.

We are introducing the initiative at events in Yerevan and additional cities, and discussing opportunities to collaborate with other programs that serve women.

Women’s entrepreneurship development is in its early stages in Armenia. Our work is at the forefront of these efforts and may provide a model and momentum for future initiatives to foster women’s economic empowerment.

THANK YOU for supporting this critical work to help women gain skills and find employment so they can build a new life for their families!

With support from generous donors like you, NEF has helped dozens of rural Armenians develop small enterprises, improve their income, and contribute to economic recovery in Armenia.

Now we are excited to share that this effort is expanding to help women who are victims of domestic violence, a widespread problem in Armenia. According to a study conducted by Amnesty International, nearly 60% of Armenian women reported experiencing physical abuse.

In this new focus, NEF is pleased to announce a partnership with the Women's Support Center. The Center is located in the capital city of Yerevan and serves women from other urban centers as well as rural areas.

Together we’ll help at least 50 Armenian women over the next 18 months. All of the women will receive training in job and advocacy skills. They will have the option to either pursue a job with an existing business or choose to receive management training and support to launch their own small micro-enterprise.

NEF and its local partners are currently researching the most viable types of micro-enterprise and employment opportunities for women in Yerevan and the next largest city of Gyumri. In May, we’ll begin training sessions with the women and with it their journey toward financial independence.

Your gift is helping entrepreneurs build strong businesses, create jobs, and contribute to the revitalization of their rural Armenian communities. Now, you are helping women find employment so they can build a new life for their families.

THANK YOU for supporting this critical work!

In 2012, the Near East Foundation continued to support entrepreneurs and economic recovery in rural Armenia with the help of our local partners, Business Pareta and the Gegharkunik Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The entrepreneurs operate businesses ranging from retail shops to an expanding network of computer centers in rural villages.

We've also supported many agricultural entrepreneurs. Agriculture is an important source of income in Armenia. In recent years, it has been estimated that nearly half of the Armenian workforce is employed in agriculture.

Here are a few examples of rural Armenian entrepreneurs in the agricultural industry who received support in 2012 with the help of donors like you:

Viktor Badalyan is a beekeeper in the Vardenik Village, Gegharkunik Region. He launched his beekeeping business in 1992 and today it has grown to 100 families of bees. Not long ago, Viktor thought he would have to sell 20 of those families to pay for operational expenses. Losing the 20 families would mean a decrease in profits and hurt the business he has worked hard to grow. A loan from the project prevented him from having to sell the bees and is helping his business expand.

For four years, Hasmik Tirabyan has been breeding sheep on her land near Khashtarak Village, Tavush Region. She was able to increase her herd of 20 sheep by purchasing six additional sheep with a loan from the project. The added sheep increase both her production and income potential.

An entrepreneur who has been gardening since 2009, Vladimir Khocharyan cultivates 7.5 hectares near Vardenik Village, Gegharkunik Region. Within three years, he planted walnut trees on 7 of those hectares. He received a loan from the project, and is expanding his operation by planting apple, apricot, plum, and sweet cherry trees.    

Our investment in local entrepreneurs like these – in agriculture and in other industries – is supporting economic development in rural Armenia.

Your gift is helping entrepreneurs build strong businesses, create jobs, and contribute to the revitalization of their rural Armenian communities. Thank You! 


Armenian entrepreneurs in their retail shop
Armenian entrepreneurs in their retail shop

NEF and its partners continue to help create and expand sustainable businesses that are boosting the local economy and creating new opportunities for rural Armenians. 

Since November 2011, 13 rural businesses have received financing from the partners’ startup fund. Today the businesses are operating and expanding successfully.

A lack of access to credit and finance prevents the rural poor - particularly women - from investing in the development of their communities, a crucial step to break the cycle of poverty.

Encouraging the development of women entrepreneurs is a specific focus of this project. In August 2012, a woman entrepreneur received 400,000 Armenian Drams ($980) in financing to increase the revolving funds in her clothing trade business in Gavar, Gegharkunik Marze. Two other women business owners have received support for their sheep breeding enterprise and souvenir shop, respectively.

In September 2012, an entrepreneur from Gandzak, Gegharkunik Marze received 300,000 Armenian Drams ($740) in financing to start a car repair center. 

The Zartnir computer center franchise launched by the project continues to operate and develop successfully. Within the next few months, the renovated Noratus center plans to add notebooks, net-books and pads to the selection of computers it offers for sale and service. The center is also making arrangements with banks to start selling computers on credit, which would make computer ownership affordable for more people. Another computer center located in the Geghhovit community is planning to move to a new site to upgrade its facility. 

Other small enterprises include agriculture, trade, and public services. Farmers in the Khashtarak village of Tavush Marze are engaged in cattle breeding. In the Vardenik community of Gegharkunik Marze, two beekeepers have produced 500 and 900 kg of honey respectively, and are expanding their businesses by increasing the number of bee families. One of the beekeepers increased the number of bee-families up to 20. 

These small businesses are generating income for entrepreneurs and their families. With loans - like the ones made available through this project - they can expand their businesses, provide more services to the community, support their families, and stimulate the local economy.

The Near East Foundation and its partners, Business Pareta and the Gegharkunik Chamber of Commerce and Industry, are planning to expand this pilot project based on its positive impact in rural Armenian communities.

Your support is improving livelihoods in rural Armenian villages. 

October 17th is a Bonus Day when Global Giving will match a portion of your gift. Please consider a donation to create economic opportunities for more rural Armenians. Thank you! 

Modern computer sales center in rural Armenia
Modern computer sales center in rural Armenia
Dried fruit producers in rural Armenia
Dried fruit producers in rural Armenia

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Project Leader

Sarah Peterson

Program Officer
New York, NY, New York United States

Where is this project located?

Map of New Income Opportunities for vulnerable Armenians