Help Rebuild Rural Armenia

Jan 14, 2013

Funding Helps Agricultural Entrepreneurs Grow

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! 


Oct 14, 2012

13 New Businesses, Women Entrepreneurs Supported

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
Jul 13, 2012

Expansions Increasing Services to Communities, Profits for Entrepreneurs in Rural Armenia

Expansions and Renovations Increasing Services to Communities, Profits for Entrepreneurs in Rural Armenia

Participants in a Near East Foundation project in rural Armenia are flourishing with access to expanded modern services and new training opportunities.

In rural Armenia, access to IT services and amenities has been limited to only a few places. NEF is working with local entrepreneurs and partners to create sustainable businesses and training programs to help meet the growing demand and create new opportunities for rural Armenians. 

In 2012 the opportunities have included driver’s education training, offered by project partners the Gegharkunik Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Zartnir franchised computer centers. As part of a pilot program, several centers installed “Practical Driving” simulator software on their computers to prepare participants to drive successfully and pass their driver’s license tests.  For people who live in remote areas, obtaining a driver’s license is essential to having the mobility and capacity to obtain jobs at a non-walkable distance. In the future, trainings will be expanded to other computer centers within the Zartnir network.

In February of 2012 the Zartnir computer centers also succeeded in paying back the loans they received The Zartnir franchise of computer centers was launched in 2010 with support from the “Successful Start” Foundation, a program through the Gegharkunik Chamber. In February 2012, the centers successfully completed payback of the start-up loans they received.  Now that the centers are established and independent, they are now able to offer new services to the community and update their businesses. These updates can have a significant effect on the influx of customers, and increase the computer center’s income.

In Noratus, for example, the computer center has been renovated to replicate European-style computer centers and better suit customer needs. Computers for internet use have been separated from computers used by children playing computer games. This has created a more suitable environment for each customer, and gives the center a more professional atmosphere. 

The Vaghashen center is preparing to launch a new business venture – a 3D cinema. The franchise owner is collaborating with the Gegharkunik Chamber to create a business plan for the cinema, which will target a youth audience. Chamber leaders are supporting the business expansion and the center owner has received financing, in the amount of 350,000 Armenian Drams (just under $1,000), to buy a 3D projector. Currently, he is renovating a space to make it suitable for a cinema.

These expansions and computer center renovations aim to attract more customers and increase profits by increasing the variety and quality of services available to the community.

Apr 13, 2012

Six New Businesses Launched in Rural Armenia

Rural livelihoods continue to improve in rural Armenia, where NEF’s project in support of entrepreneurs is helping to rebuild the economy, and break the cycle of unemployment and poverty.

In the first three months of 2012, a total of six entrepreneurs received funding for their business ventures. The entrepreneurs are from four rural villages in the regions of Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh, Gegharkunik, and Tavush.   

Each of the businesses has a different focus.  The range of enterprises includes a beekeeping venture, dried fruit production, a souvenir shop, a bakery, a sheep-breeding farm, and a vegetable greenhouse.

Since 2008, NEF has worked with local partners in rural Armenia to promote sustainable local economic development by strengthening economic sub-sectors (such as the ones supported in 2012) where rural areas have a competitive advantage.  Our program helps at every stage of business development – from formulating a business plan to gaining access to micro-credit (capital) and providing ongoing mentoring and support services during the launch phase.

We thank you for your generous support, which is helping entrepreneurs build strong businesses and contribute to the revitalization of their communities!


Jan 12, 2012

Information Technology Brings Jobs, Economic Development to Rural Armenia

Youth use computers in rural Armenia.
Youth use computers in rural Armenia.

In spite of huge leaps in IT infrastructure in Armenia, major segments of the population in rural villages lack ways to access technology and the knowledge to use it. These same communities are faced with youth unemployment often reaching 30 percent or more. A growing “digital divide” leaves rural communities and the poor unconnected to an economy and society increasingly based on information technology.

In Armenia, a government initiative aims for every family to own a computer, along with improvements in broadband capacity. However, no more that 10 percent of Armenian villagers has knowledge of computers or the Internet, a reality that prevents information dissemination in rural areas.

NEF and its partners, Business Pareta and the Gegharkunik Chamber of Commerce and Industry, have worked with local entrepreneurs to establish 15 rural IT centers under the Zartnir (Wake Up!) brand. The centers are creating jobs and new sources of income, serving as hubs for education and skills training, and providing access to technology.

Though modest in size – a start-up has 4 computer stations – these IT centers have quickly become vital parts of their communities. In the village of Noratus, for example, the IT center is full from morning to night in peak seasons, and the training sessions fill quickly – with 300 people trained in the first year. Some IT centers have begun providing training in advanced topics, including game programming, to youth who aspire to work in Armenia’s burgeoning programming industry.

Each IT center is located within a rural village, providing everyone in the community with convenient and affordable access to the Internet. The centers are locally owned and operated, fostering local entrepreneurship and trust among community members. Each month, centers provide a number of trainings in computer and program use for a fee and provide some targeted training for disadvantaged groups, such as women heads of households, on a pro bono basis – grassroots corporate social responsibility. Income is generated through computer sales and service, training, and computer/Internet access.

Microfranchises offer entrepreneurs with limited or no business experience a way to start a new business with relatively low risk. NEF and its partners provide entrepreneurs with business training, business planning, technology training, marketing, and quality control training. The trained entrepreneurs are connected with financing as needed, and credit/loans are used to acquire the necessary technology, equipment and raw material to start the business.

The IT centers have developed into successful businesses, generating revenue and creating jobs by offering internet access (internet café), training (in programming, software packages, internet use), and computer equipment sales. Each business creates at least 2 permanent jobs and generates an average of $600 dollars per month in profit in their first year – significant figures in the context of rural Armenia. Each center serves a population of approximately 200 people on a regular basis and offers four multi-week courses for basic computer literacy.

Zartinir IT Center.
Zartinir IT Center.
Zartinir IT Center.
Zartinir IT Center.

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Project Leader

Sarah Peterson

Program Officer
New York, NY, New York United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Help Rebuild Rural Armenia