In the fall of 2009 EPF, in cooperation with Lodestar Foundation, organized a half-day seminar on Social Entrepreneurship for businesses, investors, and private foundations with presentations by experts from the Ashoka Foundation, Community Foundation Network, and the Institute for Philanthropy.
Later on with funding leveraged from the Czech Foreign Ministry, Eurasia Partnership Foundation initiated a pilot project on Social Entrepreneurship (SE) for NGOs through trainings, consulting and grant support for concrete entrepreneurial projects. The program aimed at assessing the development of SE as a viable business model for organizations that earn profit as business entities, but that are driven by their social mission.
The program began with an assessment of the non-governmental sector in Armenia, the legislative framework regulating non-profit organizations, and the state of social entrepreneurship in the country. Some thirty people from seventeen NGOs participated in an EPF-led, four-day seminar devoted to selecting, testing, and planning income generating ideas and/or practices.
In early 2010, nine projects were submitted within the grant competition on SE and three of them were awarded EPF small grants which has been followed by a study tour to the Czech Republic (together with Georgian peer organizations) to learn the best practices of NGOs successfully generating resources through business activities.
As a result of that knowledge and the grants awarded, the “Astghatsolq” Disabled Children’s and Parents’ NGO established a woodcraft production social enterprise in Chambarak community, where four local people, two of them with disabilities, are employed. The NGO used the proceeds from the sales of the wooden handicrafts to a newly-established day-care center for local children, with a majority of them with disabilities or from marginalized groups.
Another project resulted in the establishment of quilt-making studios in Aghtala and the Yeghegnadzor communities by the “Armenian Young Women’s Association” NGO. These involve mainly socially vulnerable women who are engaged in making quilts and quilted handicrafts in those studios. See and buy here.
The social enterprise model was successfully established in the south of Armenia, by the third grantee, the “Goris Youth Union” NGO, where local women produce bed-sheets, child-care linen and other manufactured products, which are then sold to local hotels, hospitals and in stores.
In 2011, EPF supported the initiative of the “Armenian Camp” Charitable NGO to set up a social enterprise. Twenty people with limited abilities have been trained in the production of ceramics, while the grantee will ensure employment at the newly established ceramics studio for at least the ten most skilful trainees. The social objective of this enterprise is the organization of particular types of sport training and sport events to promote sports among disabled people.
An article about EPF Social Enterprise project was published in the newsletter of the American Chamber of Commerce in Armenia (AmCham). Available here.