FAR’s Economic Development Program gives people and communities the tools they need to improve their lives through access to resources, education, skills training, and other types of assistance—crucial ways for beneficiaries to feel empowered to change their lives and better their communities.
“When we established the farm, we had problems grinding the feed for our pigs. We would have to wait for hours to grind raw materials. It was a waste of time and energy. I decided to create a mobile grinding mill that would not only serve our farm but also people from remote villages who used to bring their wheat and grain reserves to Sisian for grinding,” he said. “The challenging part for me when writing the business plan was the technical nuances of the mill, but I got help with that, and my project got approved.”
Hovsep used to travel to more remote villages and grind the feed on weekends. He has found this service so needed that he's thinking of quitting his current job at the local stone factory and fully focus on his business. “It’s cost-effective and profitable. Besides, it will allow me to spend more time with my three daughters, Eva, Sona, and Elen,” he said.
In a small village in Syunik Province, Hovsep Hambardzumyan has built his own mobile feed grinding machine, with which he can serve hundreds of locals year-round through the delivery of an affordable and easy-to-reach service.
His invention was made possible through FAR’s Farming Support Project, which is part of the Small Business Assistance Project, or SBA, and which provided Hovsep with the financial and technical assistance to implement the project.
Originally from Sisian, Hovsep used to work in Russia before he decided to move back home to establish a farm with his father and brother.
Another 25 women in Tavush Province, one of Armenia’s most impoverished regions, participated in a program to learn PHP coding skills in order to support them in finding new employment.
The Deep Engineering Education Program for high school students was implemented in Gyumri, Parakar, and Vanazdor. A total of 100 high school students were involved in the program and learned mechanical, electrical engineering and AI educational programs as a way of encouraging the establishment of new start-ups.
Another program also provided programming skills to 45 young people from Tavush Province, and will conclude in May 2023.
GTech has designed more and more new projects to target specific populations in need. In 2022, one project targeted war veterans and women from families of wounded war veterans living in Chambarak Village in Gegharkunik Province, which helped to develop competitive skillsets and opportunities for 60 participants. Forty-five people completed the course and moved onto internships with Yerevan and Gyumri-based companies.
Another project helped to empower 52 single mothers in the Shirak Region. Through a training program, they helped to learn capacity building in accounting and programming skills, and 80% of participants were assisted in securing internships and employment after finishing the program.
Through the partnership with IBM and the Ministry of HighTech Industry provided Artificial Intelligence skills to 52 people in Yerevan and Gyumri, 50% of whom secured internships in the field after completing the program.
Since it opened in 2005, Gyumri Information Technology Center, better known as GTech, has transformed Gyumri into the country’s IT hub, giving its students what they need to compete in a growing sector. Over the past few years GTech’s reach has grown to throughout the country with more and more programs aimed to reach populations in need of IT skills development.
During 2022, GTech had 1,500 participate in its courses and had 800 graduate from its myriad programs, including its two-year program at its Gyumri location. Graduates had a 70% employment rate and either found jobs at Yerevan companies or through self-employment.
Small Business Assistance (SBA)
FAR’s Small Business Assistance Program, or SBA, helps ambitious small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs to succeed in creating or growing their own small enterprises through grants, loans, and/or in-kind support.
During 2022, 30 business ideas, which ranged from sustainable farming to T-shirt screening and printing to an optical shop, were selected for support. Several supported business owners were those displaced from Artsakh who were trying to establish themselves in Armenia. Others were from Syria and Lebanon, and with the majority of those supported from Armenia.
More than 97 small businesses have been supported by this program since we started it. All supported beneficiaries have remained in Armenia and the majority are on a path to build stable lives for their families. Some have even grown their businesses significantly following SBA support.
received eye care, including necessary surgeries and glasses
families able to access various services and emergency assistance by FAR social workers
mothers of at-risk children benefitted from safe space support groups
children attended extracurricular classes
students receive nutritious daily lunches at school
families with at least two children received training on small business development by Start Your Business initiative
graduate from GTech’s myriad programs
businesses and business ideas supported
Economic Development Program
By the Numbers
Partnership with the Armenian Eyecare Project enabled the eye sight of about 200 beneficiaries to be checked, 113 of whom received glasses, and 11 of whom underwent surgeries to improve their eyesight.
Several different topics were covered during community health awareness sessions, and included adolescent health, COVID-19 and healthy lifestyle practices, which 740 people attended.
As part of FAR’s Combatting Malnutrition project, under BCPP 1,145 of the 1,600 children in from 20 different day care centers in the Berd and Ijevan regions of Tavush Province, were provided with healthy balanced meals, which has reduced the rates of malnutrition among children between six months and six years old.
In the course of these years, BCPP turned out to become a roadmap from poverty to self-sufficiency for hundreds of families in the Berd area of Tavush province.
BCPP’s Mardigian Child Protection Center assisted more than 200 families with various types of services during 2022. One hundred children in rural Berd received therapeutic services, including counseling from social workers, therapy, art therapy, and peer-education sessions. To encourage civic activism among adolescents and youth, discussion clubs were organized on topics like community needs assessment, social networking, and volunteering.
The center also initiated a mother’s group which provided a safe space for 120 mothers of at-risk children to discuss family challenges in a group setting twice a month. Center staff also lead positive parenting skills training, conflict resolution courses, and even taught household budget management to young mothers. In addition, many mothers can participate in sewing and embroidery classes, skills they can use to make a small income.
Eleven local healthcare providers from this region participated in the CME program in Yerevan. Also 27 nurses from the Berd Medical Center were trained, including. Berd Medical Center was supplied with essential medical equipment for ophthalmology.
A large part of BCPP’s infrastructure rehabilitation project is school rehabilitation, which can make a huge impact on children’s education. Renovation and refurbishment was carried out in the technology labs at six high schools in the Berd and Ijevan regions of Tavush.
The cafeteria at Ijevan’s high school was also renovated, enabling 405 students to access a hot meal on a daily basis, and a heating system was installed in one high school.
The “World of Knowledge” competition brought together 210 students from 16 high schools in the Berd Region for a thematic exam in chemistry, physics and biology. The 27 winners participated in the Byurakan Astronomical Observatory Science Camp together with 60 more children from throughout Armenia and spent a week learning from leading astronomers and physicists.
During 2022, the Start Your Business initiative provided training on small business development for 34 families with at least two children. Business ideas for 18 of the participants, which included agro-machinery service, and honey and poultry production, were then approved by the class committee. Also, 27 out of 32 businesses from the 2021 course are now successfully generating income.
As agriculture a large part of the economy in this part of Armenia, 16 farmers and agrobusiness entrepreneurs received FAR funding to expand their operations, and enabled them to plant five hectares of orchards, install new irrigation systems as well as purchase the required machinery to cultivate the orchards.
The reservoir in Varagavan Village was also repaired, providing 200 people with better quality drinking water.