Youth-led businesses are cornerstones of Armenia’s regional economic development
January 25, 2023
UNDP, within "Unleashing Employment and Income Generating Opportunities for Youth in the Regions of Armenia" project, keeps supporting young entrepreneurs from the regions. The project aims to support and strengthen the youth-led micro and small enterprises (MSEs) in four target regions: Kotayk, Gegharkunik, Vayots Dzor and Syunik, and to develop young entrepreneurs’ business capabilities and to contribute to the economic development of various communities.
Within the project’s framework, young entrepreneurs participated in a business development course, received individual business and financial consulting, and established connections with the local market. The project will also provide small scheme grants to the selected participants to further improve, expand, and sustain their businesses.
This fall, out of 92 young entrepreneurs from Kotayk and Gegharkunik regions who applied for the program, 37 were selected to further develop business ideas, concepts, and plans. Youth-led businesses represent diverse sectors such as renewable energy, agriculture, agro-processing, food processing, tourism, public food, education, healthcare, communication and information technologies, production including chemicals, cosmetics, building materials, construction, woodworking, as well as beauty and care services.
One of the project’s participants, young entrepreneur Ani Mkrtchyan from Ddmashen village in the Gegharkunik region, runs a greenhouse with an aquaponics food production system. In the aquaponics system, plants are grown in water, and fish excrement is used as a natural fertilizer.
"This is the first commercial aquaponic greenhouse in Armenia. We grow bok choy and li ren plants and work mainly on a B2B bases, supplying our products to restaurants. However, our experience has shown that we have a product surplus, and we are currently planning to operate on a B2C basis."
Ani says that her business is successful, but she needs business literacy and sound business strategy for their further activities. In this regard, she notes that BSC Business Support Center’s business development courses help her plan her business activities strategically.
“Aquaponics is about saving water resources. As an ecologist, I want to have sustainable production and sustainable consumption. We try to involve local people and use community resources. I believe that having the right business skills and strategies will directly contribute to the sustainable development of our community,” says Ani.
Business strategy and business plan development were among the essential training topics delivered by the BSC Business Support Center. They aimed to support young entrepreneurs to enhance their business plans and to develop new business strategies aimed at successful expansion of their activities.
Another participant in the project, Rafik Poghosyan, has been engaged in fish production and processing since 2019 in Noraduz village in the Gegharkunik region. He notes that despite the short period of business operation, his company was able to enter the market successfully, and today they cooperate with Armenia’s leading food supply companies.
“We are engaged in the whitefish and trout processing; we produce frozen whitefish and trout fillets. But we want to expand our activities and have nine types of fish products. Therefore, participation in the program benefits me: I constantly gain new knowledge and, most importantly, get acquainted with new and innovative approaches in business.” Rafik says that once he expands his business activities, he aims to provide employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
The business development course taught by the experts of the BSC Business Support Center was diverse; it not only included entrepreneurship, marketing, business plan development and business idea presentation topics, but also allowed receiving business and financial advice from the experts.
Besides that, all program participants received individual consultations on business presentation and public speaking skills, which will further help them when presenting their businesses to potential investors.
During the program, young entrepreneurs also had an opportunity to network and exchange ideas regarding their activities and their impact on the development of their communities.
On November 28 and 29, the project participants presented their businesses and business development plans to a UNDP-based joint selection committee. Then, at the beginning of 2023, as a result of an in-depth evaluation, UNDP will channel financial resources to about 20 MSEs, who will present the most viable business plans to develop further and sustain their businesses in a long run.
UNDP "Unleashing Employment and Income Generating Opportunities for Youth in the Regions of Armenia" project is funded by the Russian Federation and implemented in close cooperation with the RA Ministry of Education, Science, Culture, and Sport.