In Armenia, where the market for social entrepreneurship is still developing, many social enterprises needed extra support to ensure stability in the face of the pandemic. The COVID-19 Relief Fund offered such support to 35 Armenian social enterprises, and we checked in with some of them to see how their work was progressing.
Marina Parazyan, Founding and Managing Director of the Source Foundation Supporting Children with Disabilities, listed numerous benefits the fund offered her organisation, including keeping the technology she uses up to date. “We provide innovative and life-changing services to an extremely vulnerable and marginalized target group – children with disabilities and their families. Thanks to the modern equipment procured on this grant, we achieved a higher standard of production, faster production time and better working conditions for our staff. Moreover, we were able to technologically equip 2 childcare centres and provide homecare equipment for 10 children with disabilities.”
The relief fund also helped GOALS, a social enterprise working with children, to continue their work and sports activities. “We create opportunities for girls and boys across Armenia to come to a safe space, be kids and learn the skills and mindsets necessary for them to become successful adults,” said Teny Avakian, the CEO of the company “Without the EU fund we most likely wouldn’t be able to continue our efforts through the Play it Forward social initiative. It is because of the funds that we were able to promote our existence and engage more potential customers, which in turn helps us to be able to take a step towards further sustainability.”
Anahit Badalyan, Founding Director of the Berd Women’s Resource Center Foundation also found the grant to be very helpful in overcoming development challenges brought by the pandemic.“Our work is important as it is widely demanded,” said Badalyan.“In a small borderline community like Berd, the foundation creates a realistic hope for development, and people start believing that here too there is life and opportunity. This fund was our first aid in very challenging times. It allowed us to expand our production and sell our products online via our newly built e-commerce shop.”
COVID-19 was a crucible for many social enterprises, so it’s inspiring to see how these organisations put funding to effective use and continued their work. We look forward to reading many more impactful stories from Armenia. And while we all hope another public health crisis won’t arise and threaten the stability of social enterprises, the resolve and quick action of these organisations gives us hope that the sector will stay strong in the face of future challenges.