I am Tigran, from Spitak, a small town in the region of Lori in Armenia, and I think I should start my story by saying a big thank you to the European Union for the opportunities it creates for my country, and especially for my town. As you may know, my hometown had lots of hard days in the past after 1988 earthquake, but today Spitak people still live and develop, and I always see their biggest motivation to make progress in their everyday lives.
To give impetus to my hometown to develop, EU assistance is more than important. Due to EU-funded projects, Armenians have the chance to found their own small businesses, and with smaller steps contribute to overall improvement in our lives. To learn more on a successful story from my hometown, I invited my fellow YEAs to visit “White Violet” (in Armenian – “Spitak Manushak”) social enterprise, to get to know how Spitak women founded their oil-producing enterprise, and how the EU support ensured their success.
Founded in the scopes of “EU4Women: Women’s Economic Empowerment through Social Enterprise” project by "Spitak Helsinki Group" Human Rights NGO, “Spitak Manushak” produces oils from local herbs, providing local women with employment, and currently producing 12 types of oil.
Founders of the social enterprise intend to expand “Spitak Manushak” in the future, which will allow them to involve more local women in their everyday activities. President of the “Spitak Helsinki Group” human rights NGO Ashkhen Babayan says they collect local herbs with their own hands, and process them in a technology designed by international experts.
“It is impressive that employees and beneficiaries of “Spitak Helsinki Group” undertook social entrepreneurship, and carry out their activities professionally. They are an example of the fact that it is possible to take up any kind of activities far from the capital to benefit the local population in the regions. Of course, with EU assistance it is easier to make a change”, says Lilit Panosyan, YEAs from Armenia.
During the meeting with YEAs Ashkhen Babayan mentioned, that they aim to develop their social enterprise in a way that in the future they attract tourists to Spitak, and make our hometown an interesting spot for them, where they can get to know “Spitak Manushak”’s high-quality eco-products.
“I am so proud to see how “Spitak Manushak” women started everything from scratch and continued their work with patience and love and dedication…due to their dedicated work they contribute to the development of this small but wonderful town, which is a must-visit place”, says YEAs Christine Hovhannisyan.
Another fellow YEAs Mariam Hovhannisyan drew our attention to the importance of the shared values that the EU invests in:
“The European Union gives us equal opportunities, because everyone, involving women, should believe in their power, in their dreams, and the EU provides us with the chance to make it happen.”
Due to the EU4Women funding, women involved in “Spitak Manushak” became more active and independent. Starting one’s own business, especially for women, is a big step for my small town, and as a young man who lives here, I should say I really notice the positive changes these women bring to our local community, and I believe they will get even stronger, and make our town stronger…Stronger women, stronger Spitak!