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.
Violeta Avagyan 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.
“Guests are always welcome in our family and whenever they come I treat them with dried fruits made with my own hands.
“Your dried fruits are extremely tasty and nice” I always heard from them. Andthis is what made me think that my favorite hobby could also help me to make income. Thanks to this project, now I have the opportunity for that”.
Dried fruits production can be considered as one of the most promising directions of the Armenian agriculture. It has spread in almost all provinces of the country. With the investment of modern solar and electric dryers, Armenia has a huge potential for exporting high quality organic dried fruits and vegetables to the world.
Teacher by profession, Violeta also decided to try out her capacities in dried fruits business, turning her hobby into a source of income. However, she did not have the amenities in her house necessary for organizing large volume production. Village mayor supported her in this by providing several empty rooms of a community building with no rent for a duration of 3 years.
With the goal of turning these semi-abandoned rooms into a production unit, Violeta’s husband and other family members did everything to assist her. They managed to finish construction works in timely manner, making sure that Violeta did not miss the best season for harvesting fruits and starting and business activity.
Currently, Violeta has everything she needs for organizing dried fruits production, including fruits preparation unit, space for washing them, smoking room, drying room and a refrigerator. In her words, Violeta loves the production unit so much, that she rushes here after her classes, works tirelessly, tries out drying new types of fruits and does not even feel how each day goes by. Apart from everyone’s known fruits and berries, Violeta also prepares dried vegetables such as eggplants, tomatoes, melons and watermelons, using special syrups.
“Every fruit has it unique character, and requires special ways and conditions for drying. I really appreciated the study visit to Byurakan’s “Chir’s House”, where I received valuable practical advice in relation to organizing large volume dried fruits production and the master class on fruit thread preparation was also very useful”, shares Violeta.
Violeta is able to dry up to 150 kilograms of fruits in her dried fruit production unit, acquired in frames of the project. However she intends to start the production with smaller volumes, and to gradually increase them in the future, based on the market demand.
The established production unit is also a social enterprise, because Violeta plans to buy fruits and vegetables from her community members, and parallel to increasing production volumes, new employment opportunities will be created.