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YEREVAN, Armenia On 15th of March, EU supported IRIS Business Incubator, founded by “Armenian Caritas” Benevolent NGO and “SME Cooperation Association” NGO, summarized the results of its 3 main Incubation Cycles implemented within the framework of “Increased Resilience of Syrian Armenians and Host Population” (IRIS) programme funded by European Union through the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis, the EU “MADAD” Fund, Austrian Development Cooperation, and Austrian Red Cross, during its Grand event today.

The event aimed to share the results, demonstrate the impact IRIS Business Incubator (IRIS BI) has had over the SME sector across Armenia within the IRIS Programme and beyond, IRIS BI plans, and the role of the IRIS BI as a key player in the SME ecosystem, as well as provide IRIS BI Resident Community-wide range of opportunities such as professional education, a showcase of products and services, widen business network, seek partnerships and cooperation, the platform for Residents to speak up and be heard, etc.

Head of the European Union Delegation to Armenia, H.E. Ambassador Andrea Wiktorin, RA Deputy Minister of Economy Rafayel Gevorgyan, Head of the Austrian Development Agency Coordination Office Yerevan Mr. Klaus Kapper, and the representatives of founding organizations Ms. Lusine Stepanyan (Armenian Caritas, IRIS BI Program Manager, and Board Member) and Mr. Ruben Osipyan (Chairperson of SME Cooperation Association, IRIS BI Chair of the Board) as well as IRIS BI Executive Director Ms. Narine Terzyan together with partners, stakeholders and residents attended the BIG event.

Ambassador Wiktorin highlighted: “The sustainability of the IRIS Business Incubator, established in October 2019 within the framework of “Increased Resilience of Syrian Armenians and Host Population” (IRIS) programme funded by the European Union, is of particular importance and we have been encouraging cooperation with other EU funded projects. We believe it is very important that after the completion of the project the Incubator constantly evolves refining its methodology, expanding the outreach, and serving as many SMEs as possible, with its unique ability to work with people in vulnerable situations.”

The Deputy Minister emphasized that the IRIS business incubator was able to find its unique place in the business ecosystem of Armenia. “We are grateful for the EU’s efforts to provide consistent economic support to Armenia through a variety of financial instruments. A vivid example of this is the implementation of the EU-funded Syrian-Armenian Resistance Improvement Program (IRIS) and the foundation of IRIS Business Incubator, which aims to improve the socio-economic resilience of IDPs and strengthen Armenia’s institutional capacity for economic growth.”

Mr. Kapper welcomed all participants and mentioned that small and medium-sized enterprises are the backbone of every healthy economy. He mentioned that ADA consistently supports diverse interventions aimed at increasing the incomes in a sustainable manner.

During the event, various training, workshops, seminars, and other professional educational-centered activities were organized for the participant. The workshops were handled by the different professional experts of the field and the representatives of founding organizations.

“Inclusion and diversity are always in our focus. This is what our result states”, – Narine Terzyan, the Executive director of IRIS BI highlighted. “It appeared during our work that the demand for the services offered by the IRIS Business Incubator is very high. More than 50% of our resident-entrepreneurs are from the regions of Armenia, while we also have extensive experience working with target groups in need of economic integration, including repatriates, migrants, refugees, other displaced persons, persons with disabilities. That’s why 32% of our residents are representatives of these target groups. Another essential core for us is the women’s empowerment, and we can proudly say that 63% of our residents are women”.

During the event, Ms. Lusine Stepanyan, and Mr. Ruben Osipyan awarded certificates to the successful entrepreneurs, who had successfully passed two-months long workshops of IRIS BI Academy on business development. Lusine Stepanyan brought her gratitude to the donors, implementing partners, and the IRIS BI residents for the joint efforts and hard work. And Ruben Osipyan mentioned that the establishment of the IRIS business incubator is a significant step in allowing the small and medium-sized Armenian enterprises to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for rapid growth and business development.

The successful entrepreneurs also had the opportunity to present their business products in the showcase organized in the separate hall, where also networking opportunities with prospective mentors and possible partners took place.

Contracts with an overall value of more than 1.2 mln EUR had been signed and disbursed by the EU IRIS Business Incubator to 150 entrepreneurs. The IRIS BI team aspires to give business incubation services and access to finance to more successful candidates with bright and creative business ideas in the future and continues its activities beyond the IRIS programme.