Emphasizing the importance of rural women’s and girls’ capacity building and empowering entrepreneurship among them, from August 2020 through May 2021, “Women for Development” NGO (WFD NGO), with the funding from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria, has implemented the “Economic empowerment of vulnerable young rural women in Shirak region through entrepreneurship and enlargement of self-owned business” project.
Hasmik Gorgyan was one of the 28 applicants who had the opportunity to participate in business courses organized by the WFD NGO, to acquire basic knowledge and skills for starting own business. Out of 9 project proposals submitted, the following 4 most interesting and sustainable ideas became the winners:
- – “Strawberry House” – greenhouse in Arpeni village
– “Violet Dried Fruits” – dried fruit production in Tsoghamarg village
– “Sweet Areg” – pastry and candy production unit in Anushavan village
– “Green Oasis” – greenhouse in Tsoghamarg village.
“For many years, I had a dream of doing what I love and making money at the same time, helping my family and gaining some level of financial independence. My biggest challenge on the path of achieving my dream was acquisition of the initial sum, which would allow me to make my first steps towards establishing my small business and turning my idea into reality. I am thankful to fate for becoming one of the winners of this project. I am sure that very soon I will have an opportunity for my first harvest and why not – have my say in the strawberry market of our province”․
Hasmik’s first experience in growing strawberries was acquired in their family garden, where they grew strawberries together with other traditional fruits and vegetables. Naturally, the strawberry harvest came in small volumes and was sufficient only for their family needs. Hasmik always nurtured the idea of growing strawberries all year round in her head. “Economic empowerment of vulnerable young rural women in Shirak region through entrepreneurship and enlargement of self-owned business” project provided Hasmik with an opportunity of fulfilling her long-time dream and growing strawberries in Arpeni community, located on 1920 meter altitude.
In her 90 square meter polycarbonate greenhouse, Hasmik is growing “Albion” strawberries, which stand out for their high quality as well as high resistance for transporting and preserving. Despite the fact that strawberries are regarded as sweet berries, this particular type contains least sugar. The greenhouse will be watered with drip system, which is more efficient and economical.
Hasmik spends most of her day in the greenhouse. Even its thick air does not prevent her from taking great care of the strawberry plants, measuring soil humidity and tracking the thermometer with the goal of securing the right temperature and air circulation in the greenhouse.
Hasmik keeps researching the newest technologies for growing strawberries applied both overseas and in Armenia. She intends to direct her profits towards expanding and improving the conditions of her greenhouse, adding new shelves for growing strawberries in coconut fiber and purchasing special Belgian bees, which will allow her to expand the volumes of her harvest and secure higher profits as the result.
One of Hasmik’s dreams is making Arpeni community a place for growing exotic plants and changing the stereotype that Shirak region is only good for growing potatoes and wheat.