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SMART Caffe Develops Students’ Entrepreneurial Skills through European Union Support

Yerevan State University of Languages and Social Sciences, named after V. Brusov (YSLU,) has implemented various projects over the years as part of the Erasmus+ programme funded by the European Union.

The University has now opened a SMART Caffe as part of the Fostering University-Enterprise Cooperation and Entrepreneurship of Students via Smart Caffes initiative, implemented over the past three years.

The project is being coordinated by the International Hellenic University, with partner institutions in Armenia consisting of YSLU and Gavar State University. The SMART Caffe idea is being implemented by the YSLU Career Centre, which coordinates career orientation and planning programmes for young people.

Career Centre manager Levon Babamyan noted that the programme helps students or alumni develop their entrepreneurial skills, and the university has different resources to support the ideation or development phase.

“We have created a SMART entrepreneurial centre at the University, and it has turned out to be a very interesting combination. We received funding from the European Union for equipment, which we used to buy computers, a modern projector, and cameras. Our Alumni Association made a contribution by providing space and renovating it. The University added a paid position to maintain the development and sustainability of the Centre.”

During the SMART school that was organised in 2021, students, alumni, and young people were trained in entrepreneurial skills as well as offered capacity building in generating business ideas and attracting investment.

“In order to make sure that there is progress on the students’ ideas, the SMART Centre provides mentors. That is to say, our various partners act as mentors to help the young people generate their ideas, develop them, budget for them,” said Babamyan.

“After doing a comprehensive job on this, we contact the SMART startups set up by our Alumni Association [consisting of those that live in the USA], which provides up to ten thousand dollars in financial support, allocating it to the young people so that they can make their businesses a reality.”

The Career Centre is also coordinating another project within the Erasmus+ programme funded by the European Union. This one is called CONNECT and is the continuation of the SMART Caffes project. CONNECT was launched in February and is being coordinated by Moldova State University with the involvement of YSLU and Vanadzor State University from Armenia.

“It consists of an online platform. We will have a range of courses that will help young people develop their skills,” Babamyan added.