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The communities of Urtsadzor and Lusashogh are located close to the Khosrov reserve, and both have employment issues. The EU has supported those communities to develop and implement steps to address the problem which are harmonious with the environment, and both encourage social entrepreneurship and fair trade.
Facts and Figures
Implementing organisation in Armenia: Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Ca cultural Assets (FPWC)
Value: 563,270 euros
Duration: 30 months | February 2016 – July 2018
Location: Ararat Marz (Community cluster of Urtsadozor and Lanjanist)| Republic of Armenia
A social business using eco raw material
Holani workshop is engaged in drying, processing and packaging the wild-growing herbs, fruit and honey that the residents of the Urtsadzor and Lanjanist communities gather or grow. Their product is sold through retailers in Yerevan and other cities in Armenia. “I attended training on dried fruit making since 2017 with great interest. Since I was an active participant in the training and had a vivid interest in dried fruit making, I was invited to this job,” says one of the first employees, Varduhi Sahakyan. The workshop is functioning throughout the year, from the high season of apricot harvesting in July till winter and spring when the season of packaging dried herbs sets on. “We are still working, although at a smaller scale, but we never stopped in winter,” Varduhi says.
“What we collect is not just dried raw material or fruits to be packaged but the basic raw material, which is processed in uniformly and ensure identical quality,” Taguhi Manvelyan, the Holani project manager, says. Five people are employed in the workshop, while the project has created its own brand and is engaged in the brand
marketing. Taguhi, commenting on Holani, says, “The aim of the project is creating a system, which will become self-sustaining. In fact that social enterprise belongs to the community which will be in charge of its further functioning after the project funding is over.”
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The FOF has held other activities among the local population, such as training on organic and sustainable agriculture. “During the training, they were introduced into the idea of sustainable and eco-agriculture, which is a durable way of using the land, in harmony with nature and can bring more benefits. It is even more so if we consider the surging demand for the eco- Products,” Taguhi says. “Around 150-200 participants already attended those training, after which about 60-80. Families have taken part in harvesting. They received money for their job as we bought raw materials from them,” Taguhi adds.
The project provided its beneficiaries not only knowledge on sustainable and organic farming, eco- and agro-tourism but also held basic courses on marketing and financial management for them. Thanks to this, some beneficiaries have developed their own business plans, among which the ones promising long-term sustainability were selected
for further funding by the project. “Although in our engagement we have focused on socially challenged groups, it is
important also to us that the plans submitted were financially sustainable and we were assured that the business plan was feasible and profitable in the future,” Taguhi says. Varduhi is also among the alumni of that course, and she submitted a B’n’B business plan, which is among those selected for funding. “My business plan won. They came and saw my house, which was recently renovated although not yet completed. They helped with the interior design,” Varduhi says. The project provided in-kind support regarding building materials and other necessary materials and workforce, who completed the renovation. Living in harmony with the natural environment is not only possible but is not that difficult to achieve. The project implemented in the Urtsadzor community cluster is a good example which can serve as a model for harmonious development in Armenia.