Growing mushrooms? Zina´s new business planPublished: Aug 2, 2021 Reading time: 3 minutes
Zina Manukyan, from the Armenian city of Gyumri, has a business plan. She wants to grow and sell a variety of Oyster mushrooms. Now, thanks to the EU funded COVID-19 Solidarity Programme for the Eastern Partnership, idea is becoming a reality.
Zina Manukyan, 27, lives with her mother, and together, they take care of Zina’s two small sons, aged one and three. With such young children at home, it is difficult for Zina to find a job. When the Covid-19 pandemic started, it became almost impossible.
Zina learned about the EU COVID-19 Solidarity Programme for the Eastern Partnership and her dream of earning her own livelihood all of a sudden became possible. The programme, implemented by the People in Need partner, the Gyumri-based NGO called Women’s Rights House, helps women in the Shirak region start their own business.
Initially, 28 women were invited to compete for seed funding, and Zina was one of the lucky 13 women who was selected to receive a small grant to start her own business. During the process, mentors supported Zina in designing her startup, with the goal of creating a sustainable enterprise. “At first I wanted to grow vegetables, but I changed my mind later,” she says. “My business is mushroom growing. We have ready blocks that I ordered from Ejmiatsin town. The mushroom grows on the wood,” she explains. The Oyster mushroom “incubator” is in the cellar of her flat, in an old Soviet-style block house. Now the mushrooms are really small and she is experimenting with humidity and temperature. When she learns how to grow them effectively, she will start selling them.
“It is very healthy,” Zina says “In Gyumri I don’t see this mushroom in the market often, but there is a big demand; especially younger people really like it.”.
Before having kids, Zina worked as a hairdresser, sewing and doing nails on the side to make extra money. But when her kids were born, she didn't have time for work. “In the beginning I was thinking about developing a business around hairdressing, but then I changed my mind to mushrooms,” she says proudly.
So far, she doesn’t have a name for her new company, but as the mushrooms grow, she’s thinking about it.
Women’s Rights House is a grassroots NGO based in Gyumri, Armenia, whose goal is to support the development of women leaders in Shirak, the country’s most disadvantaged region. It is one of the civil society organizations supported by People in Need within the EU COVID-19 Solidarity Programme for the Eastern Partnership. The aim of this EU funded project is to mitigate the adverse effects of COVID-19 and to contribute to longer-term socio-economic resilience of vulnerable groups in Eastern Europe. Under the implementation of People in Need (PIN), and in partnership with the Netherlands Helsinki Committee (NHC) and AFEW International (AFEW), the project aims to propose a set of interventions in several countries, including Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.