Sporadic sniper fire is a daily reality for villages located on Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan in the northeast Tavush Province. This makes agriculture, the main source of income for most families in the region, an extremely dangerous occupation and exacerbates an already difficult economic situation.
To bypass this problem and give locals the opportunity to create much needed incomes, ONEArmenia launched a program called “LeverEdge” back in April. The program was started to provide border communities with the resources they need to kick-start their own small businesses. It has been well-received in the region so far, with over 70 applications submitted by the residents of Sevkar, Nerkin Tsaghkavan, and Kirants. Of these, only 23 were selected to participate in the first pool.
“Everyday I have work. I have very little free time during the day now. It feels very good,” says Armine Ellaryan, who received a new sewing machine and other equipment for her sewing business through LeverEdge. She says that since joining LeverEdge, she has registered her business as a sole proprietorship and even pays taxes as a business-owner, as her sales have increased threefold and allow her to do so.
Following the success of the first 23 businesses, ONEArmenia and Sahman have launched the LeverEdge Program in two new villages this fall. A dozen business ideas were selected from the villages of Voskepar and Sarigyugh after a rigorous application process. The businesses being supported during this round of fundraising are as diverse as the first. They include a beauty salon, bed and breakfast, and even an Italian pasta brand.
“Voskepar is located just a couple hundred meters away from the border,” said Kyle Khandikian, ONEArmenia’s content manager. “Despite the hardships of living there, you’d be hard-pressed to find kinder, more motivated people.” Khandikian travels to the border frequently to meet with program participants and report on their progress.
“During the first fundraising campaign, several donors expressed the wish to support one specific business, instead of the entire program. We listened to the feedback, and we’re happy to say that donors can now select which businesses their donations will support,” says Operations Director Charlotte Poulain.
Supporters also have the option to donate to the organization’s campaign in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, making it the first Armenian nonprofit to accept cryptocurrencies. “We’re always looking for new and exciting ways for people all over the world to be a part of Armenia’s future,” says Poulain.
If you would like to contribute to the LeverEdge program, visit their campaign page here.
This article has been adapted from a press release submitted to The Armenian Weekly by the ONEArmenia PR team and has been republished to our Community News section as a courtesy. If your organization has news it would like to submit to the paper for consideration, please email us at [email protected]. Please note that this service is reserved for organizations that engage in not-for-profit work in the Armenian community. Publication is not guaranteed.