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The European Union has long supported large-scale reforms and projects to develop a supportive environment for doing business in Armenia. With innovation, trade and SME development seen as key pillars of economic growth, the EU is ready to help Armenia achieve further development objectives.
As a part of these efforts, the EU and its partners have organised a second EU4Business week during 2016. This second initiative will run from 24-28 October 2016 and include a variety of events. The week kicked off with a panel discussion on “Investing in SMEs in the Eastern partnership counties”.
14718693_1139411682779426_1965376826679088819_nThis panel, the 8th Business Development Panel, focused on innovation as an essential tool for boosting competitiveness on both the regional and national level. The panel officially launched the pilot version of the EU4Business website. This website will make EU support to businesses more accessible and visible. Country-specific EU4Business webpages in local languages will follow soon.
The panel was followed by a press conference, in which the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, and the Armenian Deputy Minister of Investment and Development, Garegin Melkonyan, participated. Ambassador Świtalski stressed the importance of this second initiative: ‘This week is one of the most important weeks of our year. EU4Business Week, starting today, makes Armenia the centre of various events and activities that highlight the EU’s role in supporting economic development, innovation and business across the entire Eastern Partnership. We believe that economic resilience is very important for both ourselves and countries like Armenia. We pay particular attention to supporting economic development and to offering best possibilities for cooperation both regionally and within the EU. The choice to launch the initiative through the Business Development Panel was symbolic, as it is SMEs which provide the vast majority of job opportunities; therefore, economic opportunities linked to SMEs are significant. EU4Business is a strong signal of the EU’s commitment to support business, to directly benefit the real economy, and to increase the country’s and the region’s competitiveness’.
First Deputy Melkonyan echoed this sentiment: ‘I welcome the launch of the EU4Business week in Yerevan and extend my gratitude to our European partners for this outstanding initiative. Armenia attaches great importance to EU assistance provided through the Eastern Partnership to implement economic reforms. We share a special focus on ensuring and deepening bilateral and multilateral cooperation. In this regard, competitive and effective SMEs are one of the most important preconditions for economic development in our country’.

A joint business forum was organised on 7 July 2016 by the European Business Association, the business community and the European diplomatic community in Armenia. The forum discussed European business perspectives, impediments and opportunities in Armenia for foreign and local companies and investors, and how to make the business environment more attractive for investors.
The Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, and the Armenian Prime Minister, Hovik Abrahamyan, both held speeches at the event.
13631421_1054652767921985_1981350006019357580_n‘The presence of the Prime Minister at this conference has symbolic value; it is a testament to the efforts and the statements that we have been hearing and witnessing in recent weeks about the determination of this government to create a better environment for business activities, in particular, a better environment for links with Europe and the EU. We appreciate this greatly. We, in this hall, are united by a common purpose, we want to see more European business partners trading with and investing in Armenia. Armenians are of a trading nation, they have entrepreneurship in their genes; all they need is space, security and legislation. Times are very challenging and economic growth of Eurasian Economic Union countries is low. It is also a challenging time for Europe, but I hope we will be able to harness the added value of Armenia. Armenia is a bridge-builder through its geography and history; by promoting more involvement of European businesses in Armenia we’ll create another strong bridge between Armenia and the EU,’ stated Ambassador Świtalski.
Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan stressed the importance of holding this forum: ‘The presence of the business community, as well as broad representation from economic policy makers, at this event will bring about active and constructive discussion on all agenda items. The government has been consistent in implementing policy to make Armenia’s business environment more attractive. We are consistently implementing an “open door” policy, which implies almost no restrictions on investment activities. Our efforts have been highly appreciated by international organisations. We are pursuing policy, which aims to ensure equal conditions for everyone. Foreign companies can feel safe and comfortable in Armenia’.
The Executive Director of the European Business Association, Diana Sarumova, presented the main opportunities and challenges in improving conditions for foreign and local businesses in Armenia. During the event, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between more than 10 Armenian and European Business Associations. The main objective of the MoU is to emphasise the most important issues for improving the business environment in Armenia and to demonstrate willingness to work together to eliminate obstacles to business development.
The European Business Association is the voice of EU businesses in Armenia, which lobbies and advocates for businesses’ rights through B2G (business to government) meetings and PPD (public-private dialogue) platform development.
The major objective of the European Business Association is to support representatives of the European Business Community in Armenia and facilitate integration and cooperation between Armenia and the European Union, as well as improve the business environment and encourage foreign investment.

“Women’s Entrepreneurship Week” is taking place in Yerevan from 8 to 11 June 2015, organised by the Armenian Young Women’s Association (AYWA) under the umbrella of the World Association of Women Entrepreneurs (FCEM). The week is co-financed by the European Union in Armenia.
11390234_855879411132656_4648998405416274655_nAs the week began, the Head of the Cooperation Section of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Hoa-Binh Adjemian, underlined the EU’s commitment to supporting Armenia in all areas of mutual interest: ‘The EU is the primary donor supporting Armenia and Armenia citizens, particularly women. EU cooperation with Armenia is gender sensitive as equality is at the core of EU-Armenia shared values. There are many projects currently being implemented in Armenia with the support of the EU – many of them are connected to the rights of Armenian women’.
Part of the week will be an international conference of women entrepreneurs entitled “Vision of new developments”. The conference is aimed at presenting the successful experiences of women entrepreneurs from different countries, and sharing ideas and best practices to establish a good basis for further cooperation between local and international businesswomen. This conference offers a good stage for women entrepreneurs to create new links with new potential partners, find opportunities for investment in Armenia, and network more widely with women entrepreneurs on the global level. The explicit goals of the conference are to:
• Create links and strengthen cooperation between women entrepreneurs and business owners in Armenia and abroad;
• Facilitate the development of women’s entrepreneurship;
• Improve the business environment for small- and medium-sized enterprises;
• Promote investment in business and the establishment of joint ventures in Armenia.
Target areas for investment and cooperation in Armenia from women’s entrepreneurship point of view include the education, culture, energy, tourism, and information technology industries, as well as mining, textiles, petrochemicals, and agriculture, among others. Members of FCEM, women entrepreneurs from Armenia and abroad, ambassadors, scientists, and business experts, as well as representatives of state bodies, financial structures, international organisations, the public sector, and mass media, have been invited and are expected to participate in the conference.
11401077_855879464465984_8082348570469790137_nThe President of AWYA, Lilit Asatryan, spoke ahead of the conference: ‘Our aim is to highlight the importance of female entrepreneurship, as well as to give women in business the opportunity to communicate with female entrepreneurs working in various international organisations and/or running large enterprises, which will lead to cooperation’.
“Women’s Entrepreneurship Week” will include other activities, among which study visits to businesses and corporations, a trade fair to facilitate bilateral and multilateral meetings, B2B sessions, exhibitions of work by female artists, and other cultural programmes.

The EU Delegation to Armenia and the Armenian Young Women’s Association (AYWA) organised a press briefing for journalists on 11 March 2015 in Akhtala within the framework of the EU-funded project called “Social and economic empowerment of women in Armenia”. The aim of the event was to introduce the public to ongoing achievements of the project and to celebrate International Women’s Day together.
The head of AWYA, Lilit Asatryan, spoke about the EU’s support for women’s empowerment in Armenia: ‘About 140 women and young ladies have taken part in training courses as part of the project. Overall, about 62 business ideas have been introduced by the participants, 12 of which are group tasks. 14 of the introduced projects have received positive feedback and have been implemented by women: 1 project in Akhtala and 2 in Alaverdi. The other 11 projects that received positive feedback are awaiting final approval with regard to registration and documentation; they will also receive financing in the form of a grant’.
ARS_3253Three women have already received financial support under the project. Armenouhi Mamyan’s bakery was reopened after technical support provision. Irina Israelyan received financial support for developing a hostel business and founding a camping area. Finally, equipment for baking production was provided to Anahit Jaghinyan.
Besides the above mentioned, there is also one project that has received a grant in Akhtala which is a social entrepreneurship project through which a Puppet Theatre was founded. Previously, puppet theatre performances had to be organised in different communities across Lori region.
The Deputy Governor of Lori, Arsen Darbinyan, and the Mayor of Akhtala, Hayk Khachikyan, were present at the event. They actively offered support during project implementation together with the heads of the Akhtala and Alaverdi communities. ‘It will be very good if such kind of projects would continue, because women’s social issues are being solved with their help. These projects are very important for all of us,’ stated Darbinyan.
ARS_3244The Lori regional communities of Aktala, Alaverdi, Shamlugh, Shnogh, Teghut, Medz Ayrum, Odzun, Haghpat, Chochkan and Akori founded “Women’s Councils” within the framework of the project. These councils have actively been taking part in community life, in decision-making processes, in raising awareness on women’s problems, and in solving these problems in cooperation with the wider community.
The EU contribution to the project is €768,357. The programme is being implemented by AYWA, Italian NGO “CISP”, the Office of the Governor of Lori, and the municipality of Vanadzor. The duration of the project is three years, until April 2016.
At the end of the event, a theatre troupe founded within the framework of the project performed “Little Red Riding Hood”.