Could This Co-Working Space Redefine Artsakh?
Hub Artsakh Press
« Originally by MIASEEN, written by Anthony Dikran Abaci on the 26/04/2023»
The first co-working space to exist in Artsakh is nestled in a simple room in Stepanakert.
To a foreigner strutting past and glancing through a pair of glass doors, it may appear to be an ominous group of young people sitting at their laptops.
But what lies beyond the glass could be the percolating seed that will redefine the future of Artsakh in this post-war era.
Hub Artsakh houses the usual pillars of a collaborative work environment: open floor plan, multi-person desks, and decent Wi-Fi. Chromatic Armenian art shines on the walls.
Chess pieces are just stationary chiseled ivory without a devised strategy to slide them to a checkmate. While the idle king must be protected, the dynamic queen slices through the board to converge the other pieces to victory. The balletic queen deftly moving across this board is powerhouse pioneer Shoushan Keshishian, Hub Artsakh’s appointed executive director.
At 25 years old and just two years into her repatriation from Beirut, Shoushan has illuminated optimism from across the globe with her entrepreneurial product production. With a Master’s from the University of York in Post-War Recovery Studies, she executed the astoundingly vibrant Sunrise Stepanakert Festival alongside co-founder and fellow diaspora Lilit Hakobyan; and spent a year in Armenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the government-led iGorts Program.
Now, alongside Gayane Sargsyan, another Sunrise Festival event organizer, and Milena Avetisyan, Shoushan is raising the peer level of innovation with Hub Artsakh.
Founded in 2021 by Vahe Keushgueryan, Hub Artsakh bypasses the corporate stalemate of a gray WeWork, and is cementing down foundational blocks that could lead to a cultural and entrepreneurial emergence from Artsakh’s production Z generation.
While an exciting aurora of belief can always be cultivated from congregating in a physical space, Shoushan and her team foster this emotion into concrete action.
In addition to memberships to the co-working space, the Hub Artsakh team has facilitated lectures and seminars on everything from productivity to product development to English conversation classes. Photos published showcasing such events record a pattern of new and returning faces.
In this impending era of Artsakh, the narrative is flipping to self-sufficiency.
To flourish the seeds growing in Hub Artsakh, numerous grants and mentorship programs have been orchestrated to sprout these ideas for the rest of the world to witness. These programs have included a fellowship sponsored by the Hovnanian Family Foundation, who are the prominent donors of Birthright Armenia and Repat Armenia, and an Entrepreneurship Incubation Program with Impact Hub Yerevan.
Currently in movement, with backing by Fondation Philippossian & Pilossian, is a one-on-one coaching program with professionals and entrepreneurs from across the globe called From Idea to Impact. All accepted initiatives focus on mitigating crises that are affecting Artsakh in the current and future.
From afar, the first co-working space in Artsakh presents itself as more of a protected haven for intentional success than a collection of white desks and swivel chairs.
Throughout the past year, Hub Artsakh has not remained untouched by the Lachin Corridor Blockade and Azerbaijan’s government shutting off electricity and gas lines to cities in Artsakh. Shoushan and her team have pushed to keep the doors open as much as possible. During one of the blackouts, they notified their community they had obtained a generator so they could keep working. With no gas to heat them in the bitter cold, the group of innovators do their best to grind through.
Entrepreneurs around the world face endless challenges, but none like this group, which only cultivates more belief in their potential.
It is impossible to predict exactly what will come out of this space. The fluidity of life in Artsakh may alter at any moment.
Yet one could believe key elements are lining up. With a reliable leader in its realm, collaborative support from outside entities, and young minds focusing their attention towards problem solving for a sustainable future, whatever grows out of Hub Artsakh is sure to be a checkmate.
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