Knowledge provides a basis for young people’s welfare

31 years old Hayk Avanesyan is one of the young farmers who participated in trainings, exchange visits, and received individual consultancy in cattle breeding, farm management, and business planning within the “Livestock Development in the South of Armenia” project implemented by the Strategic Development Agency (SDA) and funded by Swiss Agency for Cooperation and Development (SDC). He lives with his wife and parents in the Ashotavan village of Syunik Marz. Hayk’s family has been engaged in cattle breeding for more than 30 years but they were not satisfied with the results: milk and meat production was enough only to meet the family’s basic needs. Nevertheless, instead of moving to Yerevan or elsewhere for better earnings, Hayk decided to stay in the village and do his best to earn a stable income. Hayk started to develop their own farm considering the existence of basic services for cattle farming such as pastures with improved infrastructure, veterinary services, and milk market in the village. Hayk began actively participating in trainings, study tours, and other activities organized within the framework of the Project.

Acquired knowledge about effective animal husbandry practices allowed him to start the cattle shed reconstruction aiming to increase the number of animals. “When I was reconstructing our cattle shed, I also considered the requirements of air-conditioning and lighting. I even tried to use equipment to reduce the physical work. For example, the removal of manure is being done automatically now which allows me to do that on time and keep the area clean. I have also bought a milking machine and do the milking automatically. All these allowed me to save time and keep more animals. In fact, there are many things to do to create ideal conditions for animals and major investments required for the perfect cattle shed. But during the trainings I understood that even with limited investments one can ensure basic conditions for cattle breeding and have a profitable farm …”

Just a year before starting Hayk’s family had 8 cattle, only two of which were dairy cows. After a year Hayk had already got 22 cattle, 13 of which are dairy cows. Since January 2018, he sold about 6,000 liters of milk to “Sis-Alp” LLC and 360 kg of meat; as a result, he received an income of about 2 mln AMD. According to Hayk, “Friendships with other young farmers acquired during these trainings became a driving force. The enthusiasm and readiness to help each other united us, from time to time we visit villages in the neighborhood, get acquainted with farmers and study on the ground their experience, share knowledge, receive advice, and use the gained knowledge in our farms. Self-confidence, diligence, and family support are important preconditions for success.”

Gained knowledge and experience lead Ann to success

44 years old Anna Ghazaryan is one of the farmers participated in trainings, exchange visits, and received individual consultancy in cattle breeding, farm management, and business planning within the “Livestock Development in the South of Armenia” project implemented by Strategic Development Agency (SDA) and funded by Swiss Agency for Cooperation and Development (SDC). Anna lives with her two children and husband in the village of Yelpin of Vayots Dzor Region. Anna’s family, like everyone else’s in the village, was involved in cattle breeding. They used to practice mainly traditional cattle breeding methods which were enough to cover their basic family needs only. Anna affirms that the knowledge and skills gained in the Project capacity-building activities allowed her not only to see the benefits of their hard work but importantly to build confidence and self-esteem too.

“I practice all the received knowledge in my daily work and I can say that the positive results over the animal feeding and the farm management became obvious already within some months. If before the two-month-old calf used to weigh 60 kilograms, today the two-month-old calf weighs up to 80 kilograms,”- mentioned Anna by emphasizing that these results were achieved due to the new knowledge and professional advice on animal feeding and care. Anna has already practiced artificial insemination (AI) in her farm, bought milking equipment and fodder beet with the help of which the average milk yield per animal has increased from 10-12 liters to 12-15 liters daily. Due to her hard work, Anna increased the number of dairy cattle from 2 up to 5 heads just in a year. She signed a contract with “Yerpin Agricultural Cooperative” for milk supply and in the past 12 months, already received an income of 800,000 AMD from milk and meat sale. Anna has further plans including fodder mill purchase, an increase in the number of pedigree cattle, and the expansion of the area for cattle shed. She has already taken steps to implement those. Anna has also become a role model for other villagers and they started following her example. They ask for advice to understand how she succeeded and try to adopt the same practice in their farms.

Liana Grigoryan SP expands its production with EU support

Liana Grigoryan is one of the dozens of entrepreneurs who have benefited from the EU-funded “Boosting competitiveness of regional SMEs” project. She lives in Vaghatur community of Syunik province with her husband, Arman Davtyan who is an experienced cheese technologist and children also involved in the family business. With the help of her family members, in 2015 Liana founded Liana Grigoryan SP and launched cheese production  Initially, it was a small family business targeting only Goris local market. Now Liana Grigoryan SP has enlarged its market in Syunik and two shops and one café in Yerevan.

The path to progress was full of obstacles and difficulties including milk market crisis in late 2017 and early 2018.  But Liana with her husband and children were able to overcome all barriers and become a dynamically growing enterprise with small but modern production facilities corresponding to the food safety standards.

Strategic Development Agency (SDA) NGO has been actively involved in business consultancy, and management advice, product marketing and     support in sales of Liana Grigoryan SP that became pillars for further development of the company and gave birth to a new brand called “Marana.”  New branding and design, as well as an expanded assortment (5 new varieties) of the company produce helped to make it more representative and competitive in the market. In July 2018, Liana Grigoryan SP hired a new employee and registered 40% growth in sales compared with the same period of 2017. At present Liana Grigoryan SP is a stable market player regularly purchasing milk from more than 100 farmers in Syunik province.

Within the framework of the project the company also received a grant from the “Agricultural Project Implementation Unit” State Agency of the RA Ministry of Agriculture to upgrade production facilities and acquire some missing equipment. Till the end of the year the company is planning to establish a new production workshop in Goris and hire 2 more employees.

“Boosting Competitiveness of regional SMEs” project is co-funded by the European Union and the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development of RA. The overall objective of the Project is to boost competitiveness of regional SMEs and create sustainable employment opportunities in Lori, Syunik and Armavir regions/marzes of Armenia. The Project is implemented by the SME Development National Center of Armenia in partnership with “Strategic Development Agency” NGO, “Armavir Development Center” NGO, “Spitak-Farmer” NGO, “Syun” NGO.

 

“Lovely Goris” guesthouse registers over tenfold increase in bookings with EU support

Zhirayr Martirosyan and Nadejda Sevoyan were one of the firsts to use the concept of a hostel in Goris back in 2003. They have been welcoming guests from all over the world ever since. When the opportunity arose in late 2017, the guesthouse involved in “Boosting Competitiveness of Regional SMEs” project jointly realized by SME Development National Centre of Armenia (SME DNC) and “Strategic Development Agency” (SDA) NGO amongst other members, and co-funded by the European Union and the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development of RA.

The hostel stood out with comfortable amenities, delicious food prepared by the landlady using Armenian traditional recipes and only fresh ingredients, as well as unique visual art – contemporary paintings by owner Zhirayr. However, because of lack of hospitality management and internet marketing and promotion skills, the business was showing slow growth.

Within the framework of continuous business consultancy support to SMEs, SDA team tackled a few important issues hindering the business’s growth. In addition to rebranding from Goris Hostel to “Lovely Goris” to avoid confusion with Goris Hotel operating in the same area, existing issues with representation on worldwide booking platforms like Booking.com were fixed and the guesthouse started to receive online booking requests again after several months of interruption. At the second stage of business consultancy support, SDA team developed two additional services using the existing opportunities for growth. Zhirayr, who is a renowned painter, started offering art tours in the city, as well as master classes for hostel guests in his art studio located in a natural cave in old Goris. This package, developed for explorers interested in art, history and culture of Syunik region, has set this hostel aside from other hospitality businesses in the city and created a distinct niche for “Lovely Goris”.

SDA team undertook promotion measures, such as a familiarization trip of over a dozen tour agency representatives to program beneficiary businesses, which also rendered measurable outcomes. As a result, only a few months into cooperating with the project through business consultancy and MASP packages, “Lovely Goris” guesthouse has registered more than 40 bookings in April-May of 2018, as opposed to only 3 in the same period of the last year, at that showing steady increase.

“Boosting Competitiveness of regional SMEs” project is co-funded by the European Union and the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development of RA. The overall objective of the Project is to boost competitiveness of regional SMEs and create sustainable employment opportunities in Lori, Syunik and Armavir regions/marzes of Armenia. The Project is implemented by the SME Development National Center of Armenia in partnership with “Strategic Development Agency” NGO, “Armavir Development Center” NGO, “Spitak-Farmer” NGO, “Syun” NGO.

 

“Misha Bakery” registers 40% increase in turnover with EU support

For over 15 years, Mkrtich Babayan’s bakery has been just one of a few dozen bakeries in Sisian city of Syunik marz. When it was time for Mkrtich to retire, his son Karen decided to follow his father’s business. The new generation was ready to introduce new approaches to grow upon the family business. When the opportunity appeared to become a beneficiary of “Boosting competitiveness of regional SMEs” project jointly realized by SME Development National Centre of Armenia (SME DNC) and “Strategic Development Agency” (SDA) NGO amongst other members, and co-funded by the European Union and the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development of RA, Karen eagerly committed to receiving consultations provided by SDA team members and using his business acumen and skills to grow his bakery.

 Within the framework of advisory and market access service package (MASP) support received from SDA, “Misha Bakery” brand name was developed, followed by logo design and outdoor advertising for the business. The owner also decided to make marketing investment to print new brand packaging, create video advertising and use social media to promote his brand. Delivery service was launched with the first in the area delivery vehicle with brand design, allowing “Misha Bakery” to stand out from competitors. This was followed by development of a diversified bread assortment now also offering French baguette and diet bread. The new approach to doing business led to 40% increase in turnover in the first quarter of 2018 as compared to the same period of 2017, as well as hiring of an additional employee.

 “Boosting Competitiveness of regional SMEs” project is co-funded by the European Union and the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development of RA. The overall objective of the Project is to boost competitiveness of regional SMEs and create sustainable employment opportunities in Lori, Syunik and Armavir regions/marzes of Armenia. The Project is implemented by the SME Development National Center of Armenia in partnership with “Strategic Development Agency” NGO, “Armavir Development Center” NGO, “Spitak-Farmer” NGO, “Syun” NGO.