Supporting Female Entrepreneurs in ArmeniaSep 13, 2021
Lena Hovhannisyan, from Gyumri, Armenia, had a good business idea. What she needed was a big break. Ever since university, Lena wanted to start her own business making eco-friendly bags. But it wasn’t until the Covid-19 pandemic that her idea became reality.
Support from the European Union-funded Covid-19 Solidarity Programme for the Eastern Partnership project made it possible.
Last year, an Armenian civil society organisation, Women's Rights House, which is funded by the EU and People in Need (PIN), held an open call for project proposals to support female entrepreneurs in the country’s Shirak region. Lena applied for and won a grant. “As part of the project we have purchased two sewing machines and materials,” Lena says proudly.
Together with her mother, Lena produces and sells textile shopping bags, which help reduce plastic waste in the environment and pad her family’s finances. Every bag sold includes a brochure explaining why it is important to stop using polyethylene bags. For Lena, her new green business is a dream come true.
“Now, we will concentrate on marketing,” she says with a smile. “It will not only be targeted at selling the bags, but also will target the Shirak region to promote environmental activism.”
While Lena is one of the most recent recipients of a business grant through the solidarity programme, she is not the only beneficiary. The project also helps civil society organisations (CSOs) in the region with training, capacity building, and funding to navigate the pandemic. Seventeen CSOs in Armenia are being supported this way. In addition to direct aid to female entrepreneurs, we are also conducting psycho-social support and other Covid-19-related mitigation programming, says PIN project coordinator Dorota Šuráňová.
Women’s Rights House is a grassroots NGO based in Gyumri, Armenia, created to support the development of female leaders in Shirak, the country’s most disadvantaged region. It is one of the CSOs supported by People in Need (PIN) 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. Implemented by (PIN), and in partnership with the Netherlands Helsinki Committee and AFEW International, the project aims to propose a set of interventions in several countries, including Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.