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Women Entrepreneurs Are Agents of Growth in Armenia's SME Sector

Video | 17 December 2018

Micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises play a critical role in the empowerment and economic freedom of women in Armenia, who are increasingly becoming agents of growth for the country's economy.

ADB has provided more than $40 million to support the development of Armenia’s small business sector since 2012. Through the program, women entrepreneurs, including start-ups, received training, mentorship and business development support.

Transcript

Yerevan, Armenia - Alvard Gevorgyan used to be factory worker.

When she lost her job, she decided to set up her own business.

“In 2012, we borrowed quite a significant amount from InecoBank, which we used to build this bakery,” says Alvard Gevorgyan an entrepreneur who founded and runs a bakery business called Hamovik Pastry Production.

“Now, we produce 48 types of pastries, which we deliver to all regions in Armenia.”

Micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises play a critical role in the empowerment and economic freedom of women in Armenia.

ADB has provided more than $40 million to support the development of Armenia’s small business sector since 2012. 

“In 2012, the Government of Armenia started working together with ADB to develop a women entrepreneurship program in the country,” comments Karen Gevorgyan, Deputy Executive Director of the Small and Medium Enterprise Development National Center (SME DNC Armenia).

"This was the first major program of this kind to be undertaken in the country."

A comprehensive study was launched to assess the needs of women entrepreneurs.

The Government of Armenia adopted the National Small and Medium Entrepreneurship Strategy, which supports entrepreneurs.  

"Private enterprise is critical for the growth of the Armenian economy and small, medium- sized enterprises and micro enterprises are particularly important for women,” says Shane Rosenthal

ADB Country Director in Armenia.

“Women have aharder time accessing formal employment and it is sometimes easier for them to have home-based businesses that allow them to balance family obligations with opportunities for enterprise.” 

Through the program, women entrepreneurs, including start-ups, received training, mentorship and business development support. The program had a positive impact.  

Of the 179 new start-ups that were registered since 2013, 44% are owned by women.

“The loan I received helped me build a 300 square meter greenhouse where I grow tomatoes,” proudly says Zepyur Movsisyan, an entrepreneur who runs a greenhouse vegetable growing business.

“Now I have a good income and I was even able to buy some land.”

Nearly 70% of all loans to SME entrepreneurs in Armenia are to women. 

“ADB is supporting women entrepreneurs through its program which provides access to finance, and also education, skills development, things like business planning,” comments ADB’s Rosenthal.

“This is important for ADB because women represent 50% of the population yet far fewer than 50% of small and medium-sized enterprises are owned and managed by women.”

The number of women entrepreneurs is growing, but the road ahead is long.

“I am very motivated by my work,” says Movsisyan.

“It has given me a source of income, financial independence, and a reason to develop my business.” 

Hamovik Pastry Production’s Gevorgyan echoes her sentiment.

“I have found myself again. I feel very good now,” she says.

“I created jobs for my family and for others.”