PROJECT: Local Economic Development in Rural Armenia
PRIMARY DONOR(S): Armenia Fund of the U.S., GTZ, and private donations
BACKGROUND: In spite of a decade of steady progress, rural Armenia (where 30 percent of the country’s population lives) continues to suffer from poverty and unemployment. After steadily increasing, GDP dropped by 15 percent in 2009, and unemployment reached 7.1 percent (8.8 percent in the area targeted by the NEF consortium). Local and international organizations have invested significantly in rural infrastructure and social services, but low income prevents many rural people from benefitting.
IMPACT: With its partners, NEF is implementing the Rural Armenia Local Economic Development program to help create businesses and jobs. A pilot phase focusing on Tavush and Gegharkunik Marzes produced promising results, including business training for 53 small entrepreneurs and development of 32 business plans in areas as diverse as livestock, fish farming, and fruit and vegetable production. The NEF consortium has created a microfranchised network of rural 20 IT centers with an emphasis on encouraging the participation of women entrepreneurs. Based on these initial successes, NEF and its partners are now poised to expand into additional sectors and geographic areas.