February 20, 2012

Newspaper: Golos Armenii (public-political newspaper)

Article by: Magdalina Zatikyan

Date: November 26, 2011, #127

Translated by: Hasmik Yumushaghjyan

Several years ago, Anush Tsaturyan could not even dream about having her own business in her hometown – Noyemberyan. Being detached from the capital, the town in the Tavush marz, where she lives is not the best place for an inexperienced entrepreneur, having no resources and business skills. Nevertheless, one day the fortune knocked Anush’s door, and the enterprising woman could not fail to take advantage of.

During this period, the American University of Armenia’s Turpanjian Rural Development Program (TRDP) had started its activities in the Tavush marz, aimed at raising the living standards of the families in the rural areas, by applying progressive methods of education for adults and encouraging them to undertake economic initiatives. Without hesitating, Anush applied for the training course of the TRDP program and after getting the appropriate skills and financial support she soon opened her sewing workshop, which is now famous for its products even beyond the Tavush marz.

The idea of launching the Turpanjian Rural Development Program (TRDP) was developed when Mr. Jirayr Turpanjian, a well-known American philanthropist and with a multi-year experience in doing charity, wished to support and contribute to the development of Armenia’s rural areas by using American University of Armenia’s (AUA) capabilities. The program was launched first in the Shirak marz, which was still suffering from the consequences of the Spitak earthquake in 1988. In the Shirak marz, Mr. Turpanjian had already for a few years provided financial support to orphaned students, who were studying at different universities of Armenia, including AUA.

Since 2006, the program has provided 7 grants, totaling 32 million drams, 150 bank guarantees amounting to more than 300 million drams, organized trainings for more than 560 villagers and more than 200 people have been employed. Currently, there are Turpanjian Rural Development Program (TRDP) centers in Gyumri, Ijevan and Stepanakert, another office was recently opened in Georgia, to serve the Armenian residents of Javakhk. Currently, a similar program is being developed for young entrepreneurs. The intention of the program is to involve both the university students and graduates of secondary schools, and the youth recently demobilized from the army.

The scope of the TRDP participant interests is very broad: hairdressers, photo-printing services, bakeries and pastry shops, dental clinics, production of animal feed, computer centers, hotels, etc. Besides, the program also raises the understanding of corporate social responsibility towards the city, region, and village of the participants. For instance, the sewing workshop of Anush Tsaturyan makes special gifts for pregnant women living in border villages. Other beneficiaries undertake the renovations of kindergartens, cultural houses, etc.

The Turpanjian Rural Development Program (TRDP) continues accepting applications.