Entrepreneurship, courage and community fostering: a discussion with Milena Avetisyan, Hub Artsakh’s program manager

Hub Artsakh Blog

« Originally written by Lou Terzian on the 20/11/2023 »

A year after the launch of Hub Artsakh’s Hovnanian Youth Fellowship program, we spoke with Milena Avetisyan, the program manager, to tell us about her work, the evolution of the program, and the ambitions she has for her young protégés.

Supporting entrepreneurship in Artsakh

“The goal of the Hovnanian Youth Fellowship is to support young social entrepreneurs, individuals or, aged 18-30 years old, interested in developing a project relating to education, healthcare, democracy building or community development”, explains Milena. “We received a consequent number of applications for the program, of which only 12 passed the final stage and are participating in the program, which started on November 28, 2022, in Stepanakert”.

Milena has taken the reins of the program since the transfer of Hub Artsakh’s activities to Yerevan in November 2023.

“The idea of the project arose after a needs assessment, when we noticed a lack of support and resources are preventing young people in Artsakh from implementing their innovative, changemaking ideas. That’s the reason why we, as a team, have come up with this program that will, first of all, contribute to the development of their professional and soft skills, but also to the development and promotion of their ideas and businesses. We are supported by the H. Hovnanian Family Foundation to implement the program, and we collaborated with various individuals and organizations for providing courses and seminars, such as BalLab, Impact Hub Syunik, and others.”

Balancing the consequences of the blockade

From now on, at the age of 20, Milena divides her time and energy between her studies in Management at university and her commitment to Hub Artsakh.

“The blockade imposed on Artsakh by Azerbaïdjian greatly limited us and the beneficiaries, particularly with regard to freedom of movement”

“Before the recent events in Artsakh, the program fully met its goals, as the participants were quite motivated to work on their programs. But the blockade imposed on Artsakh by Azerbaïdjian greatly limited us and the beneficiaries, particularly with regard to freedom of movement”, she pursues. “During the program, we had planned to make several visits to successful organizations in Armenia for the beneficiaries to build professional connections and take inspiration from, that we couldn’t honor anymore”.

While the forced displacement of Artsakh residents in November 2023 temporarily suspended the beneficiaries’ projects, Milena ensures that the program’s participants receive all the support necessary to rebuild themselves, before continuing working on their professional projects.

Adapting to new life circumstances

“The participants have since scattered all over Armenia, which is a new challenge for us, but one that I am sure we will be able to overcome. In addition to educational programs, we are holding a lot of entertainment activities to foster connection among the participants and to rebuild a sustainable and resilient community”.

“This is a new challenge for us, but one that I am sure we will be able to overcome”.

Despite their new life circumstances, the fellows have decided to continue working on bringing their ideas to life, fueled with motivation and courage. 

“For anyone looking to develop their own projects in Armenia, I would advise two things. Firstly, there will always be different obstacles on the way to the realization of one’s project, and many people just give up because they are afraid of these challenges. You should constantly generate new ideas, and pursue your goals to the end, fearlessly. Then, everything is changing very quickly in the 21st century, and it’s very important to stay on top of the latest knowledge and skills in your field. So my two final pieces of advice to take would be to be proactive and to pursue self-education continuously”.

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