Increasing Employment through Craft in Armenia’s Shirak Region

Published: Dec 8, 2021 Reading time: 2 minutes
Increasing Employment through Craft in Armenia’s Shirak Region
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Mary Melikyan (Koshtoyan) and Hasmik Khachatryan are entrepreneurs in Gyumri, a city in the Shirak region of Armenia. Supported with funding from the European Union, they built businesses in the wool industry as part of the “EU4Shirak: Wool for Jobs” project. Both women use yarn and fabrics from the Amasia Wool Factory to create their own branded products.

Mary uses the locally-made wool to produce felted clothing, accessories, slippers, and more. She has a beautiful Art Studio in Gyumri, where she currently works. Thanks to this project, she received professional training courses and financial support to ensure her business runs smoothly. Mary is a painter, and it is her passion to draw and create beautiful designs for felt products.

Hasmik Khachatryan is a tailor in Gyumri. Before participating in “EU4Shirak,” she was primarily sewing clothing for women and children.

Thanks to funding from the EU, she was able to expand her sewing services and hire more employees. Like Mary, Hasmik uses wool from the Amasia Wool Factory. Her products are in high demand, as she fills both individual and wholesale orders. During the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, she began sewing woolen blankets and hats, among other items. Her work is also helping the region’s humanitarian response; she supplied People in Need (PIN) with blankets, which were delivered to thousands of displaced people in Armenia.

The “EU4Shirak: Wool for Jobs” project was implemented by PIN between 2018 and 2020 with funding from the EU and the Government of Armenia. Implementing partners include the Municipality of Amasia, the Women’s Development Resource Centre Foundation, and the Shirak Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Through the project, six small and medium enterprises (SME) in different communities of the Shirak region were established in the wool supply chain. SMEs use wool sourced from the Amasia Wool Factory – another project beneficiary – to produce accessories and create new jobs in the region.

The Shirak region is known for its long tradition of sheep breeding and traditional wool crafts, which is an integral part of local cultural heritage. The wool from Amasia offers an exceptional variety of colours, allowing businesses to produce a wide range of designs without the use of chemical dyes. By establishing the Amasia Wool Factory and related SMEs, PIN aims to increase employment and economic competitiveness within the crafts sector of the Shirak region. In doing so, PIN and partnering organisations are able to contribute to empowering women through employment.

Author: Shushanik Nersesyan

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