2011 Small Grants Program for Vulnerable Women - Her Equality

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2011 Small Grants Program for Vulnerable Women - Her Equalityfor,Women,Small,women

    Georgia and Armenia- HERA UK Her Equality, Rights and Autonomy May-June 2011

    Small Grants Programme for Women

    Entrepreneurs in Georgia and Armenia

    Report for shelter stiftung

    Abigail S. Widynski

Programme Update

    With the support of shelter stiftung for the second year, Her Equality Rights and Autonomy (HERA) awarded micro-grants ranging from EUR 200- EUR 1500 to eight ventures owned and managed by women in Georgia and Armenia. In May and June, I traveled to the region and liaised with local partners at IOM, American Chamber of Commerce, UNDP, British Petroleum and others to identify vulnerable women with entrepreneurial ambitions and sound business plans. To date, seventy percent of funds have been awarded and transferred to recipients, with the remaining to be distributed in during a monitoring and evaluation trip by Long and Nissen in August.

In preparation for HERA’s 2011 Small Grants Programme for Women Entrepreneurs in Georgia

    and Armenia, Long initiated contact in April with previous years’ contributors, mentors and the

    local network of international organisations announcing HERA’s second year of funding. In May,

    HERA contracted me to assess ventures identified through HERA’s network as well as my

    personal contact base in the region.

    From 24 May to 4 June, I assessed a total of 17 ventures, eight in Armenia and nine in Georgia, using the established assessment tool. (See Appendix A.) During this time, I also visited the Gori Women’s Business Incubator where I conducted initial assessments of 18 Internally Displaced Women (IDP) entrepreneurs seeking start-up funding. In all but three assessments, I met directly with the entrepreneur in the business environment to understand the implications of social, technological and other factors on operations, as well as the challenges these posed to the venture’s success. Whilst evaluating the financial viability, market reach, employment multiplier and other considerations built into the assessment tool, it was necessary to establish that dangerous migration was present in the local area where the entrepreneur resided and the business was set to operate. A number of the ventures in Georgia were located in small villages where migration data was unavailable. In the interviews, I framed questions to glean information of education levels achieved by young women, education exit opportunities, marriage trends, and the availability of housing to understand how and if community-wide vulnerability impacted migration considerations. In one case, the entrepreneur identified a neighbor who had been trafficked into forced labor in Turkey, since returning and raising awareness through her story to the community. In all cases, the entrepreneurs specifically stated that lack of employment opportunities as the foremost driver of immigration.

Companies House Reg. 05401337 UK Registered Charity No: 1115628

    Georgia and Armenia- HERA UK Her Equality, Rights and Autonomy May-June 2011

    As shown and documented in previous visits conducted by Long, Nissen and Stockley, opportunity for entrepreneurs exists primarily in sectors where education necessary for start-up is negligible and within trades handed down through families, such as handicrafts, textiles, and food retail and service. This year’s identification process reinforced findings and categories of

    ventures supported include: textile and sewing (2); healthcare (1); food retail (3); and hair styling (2).

Venture Selection Criteria

    Due to the specificity in the criteria and early communication of the programme, partners from the previous year had in many cases pre-identified candidates prior to my arrival in country. In initial meetings with the partners, I was given lists of potential candidates who were matched against the criteria and then short-listed. This abbreviated process allowed for prompt scheduling of assessment interviews and site visits during the trip.

In continuing with the selection criteria established by Long and Nissen in the programmes’s

    first year of funding, I choose to fund ventures which demonstrated:

    (1) The entrepreneur was clearly committed to doing the enterprise and would start and/or

    continue regardless of our funding;

    (2) As demonstration of her commitment, the entrepreneur had contributed some of her own

    financial and/or other in-kind resources;

    (3) The venture would have a multiplier effect in terms of generating employment for other

    young women and men;

    (4) The entrepreneur would consider migrating, had been trafficked, and/or might be

    vulnerable to trafficking; and

    (5) A small contribution (200 to 2000 Euros) would be used for equipment and capital (fixed

    costs) that could help to generate or increase turnover and revenues over the long term

    but the contribution would not be used to replenish stocks, lease, or salaries or cover

    other variable costs.

    Whilst onsite, some criteria was further discussed in light of personal and community circumstances. As each situation and venture was as unique as the entrepreneur’s aspirations, I determined that a majority, but not all of the criteria had to be met.

    Of the eight grants awarded, six entrepreneurs were identified as economically vulnerable or considerate of cross-border migration reported by either the local partner or the entrepreneur herself through interviews conducted by local partners and myself.

    Two grants were made to female entrepreneurs established in the community and who themselves did not qualify as economically vulnerable individuals. Eka Verulashvilia and Marika Bibileishvili of TeaMania and Sofia Ter-Minasyan of Sofamed displayed a commitment to Companies House Reg. 05401337 UK Registered Charity No: 1115628

    Georgia and Armenia- HERA UK Her Equality, Rights and Autonomy May-June 2011

    employing young women who fit the criteria of economic vulnerable, unemployed and considering migration. In the case of TeaMania whom HERA supported last year through start-up funding for a storefront in Batumi, an area of known dangerous migration trends, the grant has been designated for equipment which necessitates the hire of 2 additional employees. Ms. Bibileishvili indicated she will oversee the interviewing of candidates and that women who have migrated to Tbilisi in search of income will be hired.

    In the case of Sofamed, Ms. Ter-Minasyan wishes to expand her business into physio-therapy to recognise additional clinic profits and also to provide a stable income to two fellow Gyumri women, noting the bleak economic environment in Gyumri, the availability of highly trained

    nurses from the local university and the surplus of experienced nurses resulting from local hospital consolidation. Planning the expansion in several months time, Ms. Ter-Minasyan conducted a preliminary interview with a female candidate with two young children who has been unemployed for the past five years. Ms. Ter-Minasyan will hire this candidate, who is seeking to improve her family’s financial position through immigration, as well as another vulnerable women in hopes that their nursing knowledge may be kept in Gyumri.

Non-Financial Support

    In providing financial support to entrepreneurs, effective giving necessitates local mentoring, as established through previous training sessions conducted by Long and EBRD as well as documentation of last year’s supported ventures. In this year’s programming of funds, I worked to identify individuals with both a personal and professional interest in the success of the recipient entrepreneur. This year, the following individuals graciously identified individuals, traveled for site visits, and facilitated the transfer of funds through personal bank accounts in support of aiding a vulnerable community member: Karine Mkrtchyan (Consultant) supporting a children’s clothing sewing venture and physio clinic in Gyumri; Nora Mnatsakanyan (Project

    Coordinator, Hope & Help NGO) supporting a hair styling venture in Martuni; Khachatur Kazazyan (Project Coordinator, IOM) supporting a catering venture and hair styling venture in Yerevan; and Tamuna Butsashvili, (Advisor, IOM) supporting a confectionary in Tbilisi.

    In signing the ‘Letter of Agreement’, grant recipients committed to providing a written report by stemail to Long and myself by 31 August 2011. Reports are requested to outline profits realised since the equipment was purchased through grant funding, profiles of any additional employees hired and information pertinent to ongoing operations. The provision of this report will allow for continued dialogue on expansion efforts. It offers HERA the opportunity for knowledge exchange on MSME development and reinforces the collaborative and mentoring component of this programme.

Overview of 2011 Venture Recipients

    In the table below. the entrepreneurs and ventures are listed in the order that a ‘Letter of

    Agreement’ was signed. (See Appendix B: Sample Letter)

    Companies House Reg. 05401337 UK Registered Charity No: 1115628

Georgia and Armenia- HERA UK Her Equality, Rights and Autonomy

    May-June 2011

    No. Grant Capital Enterprise Owner(s) Mentor Employees Amount Input

     EUR Sewing Karine Sewing, Gyumri 10 Arpine Molasyan 1000 Machine Mkrtchyan


     Iron & Karine Mkrtchyan 1 EUR 500 Custom Sewing, Gyumri Table


    Sofia Ter-EUR Machine & 4 Physio Clinic, Karine Minasyan 1250 Sterilisation Gyumri Mkrtchyan Equipment

    Salon Nora Hair Styling, Armine Renovation Mnatsakanyan 1 EUR 300 Martuni Khlghatyan

    Hair Styling, Varduhi Styling Khachatur 1 EUR 200 Yerevan Harutyunyan Equipment Kazazyan

    Marine Irons, Catering & EUR Khachatur Amujanyan 3 Machines, Sewing, Yerevan 1350 Kazazyan Equipment

     EkaVerulashvilia TeaMania, Coffee and Marika EUR 600 Georgia 15 Machine Bibileishvili

    EUR Ice Cream Confectionary, 1500 machine Tamuna Ketevan Tsaia 3 Tbilisi and initial Butsasashvili product

    Companies House Reg. 05401337 UK Registered Charity No: 1115628

    Georgia and Armenia- HERA UK Her Equality, Rights and Autonomy May-June 2011

Entrepreneur Profiles of Awards

    Arpine Molasyan, Scale-up Sewing Venture, Gyumri

    Arpine Molasyan is an Armenian wife and mother in her mid-twenties whom

    HERA supported last year in the purchase of a computer, printer and Internet access for her handicraft business. Karine Mkrtchyan recommended an additional grant to support Ms. Molasyan’s expansion into children’s clothing.

    Over the past several months, Ms. Molasyan reported a severe decline in size and quantity of orders from domestic firms. Whereas she usually employees up to 100 women to fulfill orders for table clothes, napkins and knitware, she has cut her workforce to ten women. To control costs in a strained economic environment, Ms. Molasyan sells directly to firms with any surplus sold at the Yerevan Malatia market. Additionally, production is in the homes of the employees: Ms. Molasyan takes knitted prototypes to the home of the employee, requests a replica, approves the quality and then assigns an item or items of an order to the employee. Upon finish, Ms. Molasyan collects finished pieces and provides payment, about EUR 60 per month.

    Seeking to diversify her offering in the upcoming knitwear season for Winter 2011/2012, Ms. Molasyan has designed children’s wool rompers, booties, hats, scarves and other warm clothing

    which she is using to approach firms ordering for adults, citing the unavailability of domestically, and therefore cheaper, sourced children’s winter clothing. Her current workforce consists of ten

    women, ages 16-60, each with only basic education precluding them from many occupations and the few jobs available in Gyumri.

    HERA awarded Ms. Molasyan a grant of EUR 1000 to purchase a second-hand sewing machine that will allow her to create pieces for the children’s clothing line which will then be distributed to her network of crafters for finish details, able to only be stitched by hand. With this equipment, Ms. Molasyan foresees additional women needed to cope with the projected online sales orders and increased production with the new machine. Upon delivery of the machine, Ms. Molasyan will employ a vulnerable woman to work on the machine in her living room in order to oversee the production of prototypes.

Karine Mkrtchyan, Start-up Clothing Design Venture, Gyumri

    Karine Mkrtchyan is a thirty-two year old Armenian women and the mother of two young children. Ms. Mkrtchyan assisted HERA the past two years in identifying female entrepreneurs in the area of Gyumri, known for its high rates of migration and unemployment. Since becoming a single mother last year, Ms. Kyrtchyan is the sole supporter of her family and consistently looking for additional sources of revenue to her freelance consulting work in organisational development, as the stream of income is unsure.

    Ms. Mkrtchyan’s self-reported dream of starting her own design business developed at an early age, observing her mother, a professionally trained seamstress, sewing clothing and linens out of Companies House Reg. 05401337 UK Registered Charity No: 1115628

    Georgia and Armenia- HERA UK Her Equality, Rights and Autonomy May-June 2011

    their family home. With a machine passed down from her mother and books of sketches, Ms. Mkrtchyan registered Intromode, a clothing design sole-proprietorship, four years ago. She designed and marketed shirts, dresses and pants to colleagues and friends who noted the pieces ‘held up after several washings.’ Selling 100 pieces, she used profits to buy additional machines as well as a mannequin and specialised button tools. She recognised her sales would be limited by geography and wanting to target a larger customer base, she registered the Intromode brand on eBay, Facebook, Twitter and on a domain. As repeat orders were being received after several months of operation, personal and health reasons necessitated Intromode operations to cease.

Eager to launch her venture, Ms. Mkrtchyan uncovered a market gap in women’s clothing sold in

    Armenia that she has begun to address through the initial stage of design sketches. Women’s shirts, pants and dresses in larger sizes, which Ms. Mkrtchyan defines as above European size Medium, are scarce. She has sourced materials that are lightweight and loose, which are two factors of function that Ms. Mkrtchyan has found women desire in her market research. She wishes to differentiate her brand further by adding handmade embellishments to her pieces.

    HERA awarded Ms. Mkrtchyan a grant of EUR 600 to purchase a professional iron and have built a custom folding finishing table which will allow her expand her operations and press clothing for sale in shops and online. Additionally, Ms. Mkrtchyan has identified a larger workshop that the landlord of her building has offered and she has two candidates for employment that are both highly economically vulnerable.

    Sofia Ter-Minasyan, Scale-up Diagnostic Clinic, Physio Venture, Gyumri Sofia Ter-Minasyan is a fifty-two year old Armenian doctor known nationally for her expertise in immunology and diagnostics. After working at clinics in Gyumri and Armenia for several years, Dr. Ter-Minasyan purchased a deteriorating first floor office space close to the city centre and used personal savings and a loan to refurbish the space into a functional clinic. Nine months ago, Dr. Ter-Minasyan formally opened the clinic and employs a diagnostician, a gynecologist and a nurse. Since its opening, the clinic has seen a steady 4-5% monthly increase in turnover and the three doctors treated approximately 100 patients in the month of May.

    In working with thousands of patients over her career, Dr. Ter-Minasyan reported that diagnostic physio equipment is necessary to diagnose underlying conditions masking the illnesses she and her colleagues treat. In order to provide better care for her clients, she plans to expand her practice in the next two years and construct a small room in the existing space for physio therapy, purchase equipment and train two additional female staff members. Though the construction loan is now paid off and the client portfolio growing, the clinic is unable to take on additional expansion costs.

Dr. Ter-Minasyan notes that already high unemployment in Gyumri’s overall economy is

    evidenced in the healthcare field. The local university continues to graduate a year-on-year Companies House Reg. 05401337 UK Registered Charity No: 1115628

    Georgia and Armenia- HERA UK Her Equality, Rights and Autonomy May-June 2011

    increase of nurses and exit positions locally both within and outside the field do not exist, making it necessarily for graduates to look abroad for work. Additionally, two local hospitals are being consolidated and existing nursing positions will be lost. With a number of highly skilled and experienced nurses on the market, Dr. Ter-Minasyan is eager to take advantage of the market, but also sees the opportunity to change the economic outlook for two local female nurses. She notes that she has already identified one candidate for the expansion who is a young female nurse, highly skilled but unemployed for five years and now a mother of two.

    HERA awarded SofaMed a grant of EUR 1250, with EUR 800 designated for an infrared diagnostic machine and EUR 450 designated for a sterilisation machine. With the purchase of this equipment, Dr. Ter-Minasyan will employ two additional nurses and provide additional diagnostic training to expand their skill set. One of these two will be the pre-screened vulnerable woman mentioned above. With the profits realised from the operation of the new equipment, a separate room will be added; for now, the clinic’s ultrasound room will serve a dual purpose.

Armine Khlghatyan, Scale-up Hair Styling Venture, Martuni

    Armine Klgahatyan is an Armenian woman in her mid-twenties whom HERA supported last year through the purchase of basic hairstyling equipment to support her pursuit of building a clientele in Yerevan. Nora Mnatsakanyan, Manager, Hope and Help, recommended an additional grant this year to support Ms. Klgahatyan.

    A survivor of human trafficking, Ms. Klgahatyan resettled in the capital of her home country of Armenia and sought to support herself through a hair styling business. Personal responsibilities including care for her elderly mother necessitated Ms. Klgahatyan’s relocation to the village of

    Martuni, several hours drive from Yerevan. Due to the distance from her clientele, Ms. Klgahatyan does not have an income to support herself and her mother in her new location. Ms. Mnatsakanyan visits Ms. Klgahatyan once per month and both have concluded that a room in the house is availability to convert into a single-sink salon. The room does not have proper structural support, plumbing or electricity, all of which are critical to Ms. Klgahatyan’s ability to operate her business and generate income.

    HERA awarded Ms. Klgahatyan a grant of EUR 300 to renovate the room which will house her salon. The funds were transferred to Ms. Mnatsakanyan who agreed to oversee the hiring of experts and the completion of the renovation project, which will allow Ms. Klgahatyan to use her skills and build a viable clientele in her new hometown.

Varduhi Harutyunya, Start-up Hair Styling Venture, Yerevan

    Vardhi Harutyunya is a twenty-three year old Armenian woman who completed vocational training in hair styling for both men and women and is currently unemployed. Khachatur Kazazayan, Project Coordinator at IOM Armenia, introduced Ms. Harutyunya as a vulnerable Companies House Reg. 05401337 UK Registered Charity No: 1115628

    Georgia and Armenia- HERA UK Her Equality, Rights and Autonomy May-June 2011

    young woman seeking a means to support herself in an economically challenging environment in Yerevan. Ms. Harutyunya reports that she is considering going abroad for work, reasoning that wages are higher for styling in Turkey and work is plentiful.

    Ms. Harutyunya worked for three months last year at a salon in Yerevan where she had a female only clientele. In the salon, Ms. Harutyunya was making a maximum of AMD 3000 or USD 8 per day. The owner required 50% of her revenue as payment for overhead and tax and Ms. Harutyunya could no longer afford her basic necessities. She left the salon, taking with her the numbers of existing clients and since then, has been making home visits to a few styling clients. She owns a pair of scissors for cutting women’s hair and her overhead is the cost of her mobile

    phone, on which she receives texts requesting at-home appointments.

    Ms. Harutyunya does not wish to return to the salon environments, stating that a higher profit can be realised through expanding an at-home styling service venture. She can keep her overhead low by not keeping a storefront and wishes to utilise her training in men’s styling to expand her

    clientele. With the purchase of styling equipment, Ms. Harutyunya expects to see her profits doubled and states, ‘If I stay in Armenia and have a profitable job, this is best.’

    HERA awarded Ms. Harutyunya a grant of EUR 200 to purchase two types of hairdryers, mens’ clipping sets and a set of combs to assist in her styling start-up in Yerevan.

Marine Amujanyan, Scale-up Catering and Sewing Venture, Yerevan

    Marine Amujanyan is a middle-aged Armenian woman, married with a daughter and physically disabled son. Khachatur Kazazyan, IOM Armenia, recommended Ms. Amujanyan for her work ethic, financial responsibility and her pursuit of complimentary business activities to sustain her enterprise. Ms. Amujanyan reports considering migrating abroad in hopes of sourcing additional income to provide for the care of her disabled child. Deciding to remain in Yerevan and care for her family, Ms. Amujanyan drew upon her cooking skills and network of friends and family to secure catering orders. The cost of raw materials was a limitation in the start-up phase and Ms. Amujanyan again drew on her sewing abilities to make and sell sheet sets in the villages to provide the funds necessary to start the cash flow in the catering venture.

    With entrepreneurship training from IOM last year, Ms. Amujanyan developed a business plan and secured a loan to expand her catering business. Ms. Amujanyan purchased kitchen equipment that allows her to produce in her family kitchen cakes, tortes, salads and other food products for party and wedding catering. Depending on the size and number of orders, two additional young female employees are engaged. Through word of mouth recommendations, Ms. Amujanyan’s catering orders are beyond her current production capacity. In order to accept larger orders and realise larger revenues, additional small appliances and a freezer is necessary.

Companies House Reg. 05401337 UK Registered Charity No: 1115628

    Georgia and Armenia- HERA UK Her Equality, Rights and Autonomy May-June 2011

    Ms. Amujanyan is also experiencing an increase in demand for her sewing products with customers noting the quality of her finished pieces. Though sale of the sheets was initially developed to fund the catering business, it has developed and expanded into a separate variable venture with finished clothing and tableware products sold in the Malatia Market in Yerevan. Ms. Amujanyan needs to purchase two sewing machines and professional irons that will allow her to then employ two additional employees to fulfill orders. She has already identified one young women, currently unemployed and economically vulnerable, to begin work immediately.

    HERA awarded Ms. Amujanyan a grant of EUR 1350 to expand her two ventures. EUR 700 is designated for the catering venture and allows for the purchase a small freezer, grill and other small kitchen appliances that will increase capacity. EUR 650 is designated for the sewing venture and allow for the purchase of two second-hand sewing machines and two professional irons.

    Eka Verulashvilia & Marika Bibileishvili, Scale-up TeaMania, Multiple Locations, Georgia

    Eka Verulashvilia & Marika Bibileishvili are two MBA-educated Georgian women in their mid-thirties who have developed TeaMania, a chain of tea stores and kiosks in Georgia selling loose leaf tea. HERA supported TeaMania last year in its expansion to the seaside town of Batumi. Brand recognition and endorsement from the local grocery store giant Goodwill has lead to TeaMania’s additional of three outlets last year and plans for three more at the end of 2011.

    Not wanting to deviate from its core product of packaged loose leaf and bag tea, Ms. Verulashvilia and Ms. Bibileishvili see an opportunity to expand into take-away coffee sales. In Tbilisi, they report that a local gelato café has only begun offering take-away coffee. As Tbilisi is primarily a driving city, they would like to test the currently unheard of concept of purchasing a throw-away cup of coffee from a store and drinking it whilst in transit.

    HERA awarded Ms. Verulashvilia and Ms. Bibileishvili a grant of EUR 600 to purchase a second-hand Italian espresso machine to be placed in their top profit-earning outlet. Two additional employees will be needed to operate the machine. Ms. Verulashvilia and Ms. Bibileishvili agreed to identify and hire two economically vulnerable young women. If successful, TeaMania will expand the offering to other stores as well, demonstrating the employment multiplier effect.

Ketevan Tsaia, Scale-up Confectionary Venture, Tbilisi

    Ketevan Tsaia is a middle-aged Georgian woman, married with two sons, and who has no formal education beyond the secondary level. Katia Kvirikashvili, Director of IOM Georgia’s Job

    Centre, introduced Ms. Tsaia as an IOM classified ‘socially vulnerable’ individual. One year ago, unemployment and financial destitution necessitated Ms. Tsaia’s handing over of her two

    Companies House Reg. 05401337 UK Registered Charity No: 1115628

    Georgia and Armenia- HERA UK Her Equality, Rights and Autonomy May-June 2011

    school-aged boys to a state-run orphanage for food and clothing. Reflecting on this time Ms. Tsaia reports, ‘Of course I thought to go abroad.’ Seeking a last opportunity to remain in Georgia and bring her boys home, she decided to launch a confectionary business producing hot donuts in a Tbilisi underground mall. A scale-up grant by IOM enabled Ms. Tasia to purchase a second-hand confectionary machine and rent a small space in a bakery storefront to house the machine and sell the products. Ms. Tsaia is now able to support herself, her family and now has hired two vulnerable young women for 10 per day, noting both were ‘very happy to find a job.’

    When the heat of the Tbilisi summer arrived in May, Ms. Tsaia noticed a severe decline in hot donut sales. She is unable to see the turnover necessary to keep the business open during the summer months, when demand decreases. Her economic vulnerability, and that of her two employees, is parallel with sales levels.

    HERA awarded Ms. Tsaia a grant of EUR 1500 to purchase a secondhand German ice cream machine and a start-up supply of cream mixture, which will allow her business to remain open year round, and maintain employment of her two vulnerable young hires. Ms. Tsaia estimates that she will sell 150 cones per day earning revenues of GEL 270 per week. This grant increases sustainability of the business by providing a means of sales continuity. In turn, the continuous employment for three identified women will likely be secured.


    shelter stiftung small grants fund - Armenia and Georgia

    Venture Country Amount Bank Fees Coutts Request

    Initial Transfer 10000

    Confectionary Georgia 1500 15 1515

    TeaMania Georgia 600 15 615

    Total Georgia 2100 30 2130

Sewing 1 Armenia 1000 15 1015

    Sewing 2 Armenia 500 15 515

    Clinic Armenia 1250 15 1265

    Hair Styling 1 Armenia 300 15 315

    Hair Styling 2 Armenia 200 15 215

    Catering Armenia 1350 15 1365

    Total Armenia 4600 90 4690

Companies House Reg. 05401337 UK Registered Charity No: 1115628

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