NEF Helping Rebuild the Economy in Rural Armenia

Syracuse, NY (November 3, 2011) The Near East Foundation (NEF) is making progress in its efforts to help break the cycle of unemployment and poverty in rural Armenian communities—where one in four people is without a job—by supporting entrepreneurs and new business creation.

Strong micro-enterprise growth continues throughout rural Armenia, where NEF and its partners have helped 35 businesses bring economic development to their struggling communities.

Two areas of focus, where the rural areas have a competitive advantage, are the dried fruit and fish farming industries.

The Rural Armenia Ministry of Finance recently approved project participant Vahan Safaryan, the owner of a fish farming business, to develop and build new basins that will allow him to grow production and fulfill expanding market demand.

With the developments made possible through this project, Vahan has become the biggest supplier of fresh fish for shops and restaurants in the Gegharkunik region.  In turn he has extended his growth to others by supporting fellow Armenian fish farmers.

Construction of a new dried fruit production facility has finished in the Ptghavan village of the Tavush region, where franchisee and project participant Andranik Veranyan entered into an agreement with the Regional Employment Center of Tavush.

In August 2011, he produced his first batch, 5,000 kilograms of dried peaches, using fresh peaches purchased from community farmers. During this process, Andranik developed key technological insights that will enable him to solve minor manufacturing glitches before the next production phase and help inform other fruit processors. He is planning to install a new compartmentalized drying system, which will enable processing when there is less sunlight.  Andranik’s business has now grown to fifteen employees—all of whom he has personally trained.

The managers of Armenia’s “STAR” and “Fresh” supermarkets rated his product quality as excellent, which surpassed expectations of the producer and resellers. A preliminary agreement has been signed between them to buy Andranik’s entire crop of dried peaches for the month of November.

To learn more about how NEF-sponsored business development is changing lives in rural Armenia, find project resources, detailed progress reports, and photos

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