First steps towards self-sufficient livelihood in the communities
The potential beneficiaries were introduced to the terms of the sub-grant program, envisaged for the promotion of their business activities, during the community meetings.
The Armenian Association of Social Workers with the support of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs of the Republic of Armenia implements the Project “Promoting Social Inclusion and Self-Sufficiency Measures in Armenia” , which is administered by the World Bank and funded by the Government of Japan (through Japan Social Development Fund).
The project aims is to promote self-reliant livelihood of poor and vulnerable groups, empower their participation in society and economic life in the Ararat, Armavir, Kotayk, Shirak and Lori marzes of Armenia. The Project envisages a number of activities, including the development of social work, the methodology for social case management, as well as to promote unprecedented entrepreneurial activities of socially vulnerable groups in Armenia. In particular, about 300 family benefit program beneficiary families from the above-mentioned regions will receive a grant equivalent to 4000 US dollars to start their own business and improve social conditions of their families.
Today, on August 20, a community meeting was held in the hall of the Administration of Ararat Region ( Artashat town), the goal of which was to provide the most possible awareness of the Project, to introduce the potential beneficiaries with the procedure for applying for the business sub-grants program and defined criteria. The Armenian Association of Social Workers plans to organize about 50 community meetings in five mentioned above regions in the framework of the Project.
The meeting in Artashat was attended by Mrs. Rika Onodera, Second Secretary for the Economic Cooperation at the Embassy of Japan in Armenia, Mrs. Mira Antonyan, President of the Armenian Association of Social Workers, Mr. Ruben Markosyan, Project Manager, Mr. Vahan Danielyan, Representative of the Yerevan Office of the World Bank, Mrs. Yevgine Vardanyan, Advisor on Specific Functions of the Structural Units of MLSA of RA, Mrs. Zara Aslyanyan, Head of the Division of the Social Work’s Methodological Support and Supervision of the Department of Social Work and Social Services of the United Social Service, Mr. Sedrak Sargsyan, Director of the Artashat Regional Center of the United Social Service, Mr. Sergey Muradyan, Deputy Major of Artashat, as well as the beneficiaries of the Project.
“It is very important for us that the beneficiaries of the Project understand what this Project is about, what role they have in this Project. This Project emphasizes the fact of having a child. The program is open to those families with children registered in the Family Benefit System who have three or more children, and if they have one or two children, at least one child should be aged under five. The participation in the Project will be voluntary, the social service staff will conduct interviews with them applying pre-designed tools to select promising families, so that they can later motivate, support the family, develop. The selected beneficiaries will also pass special business courses -, conducted by the business consultants. This project provides the beneficiaries with the opportunities to receive support both by social workers and business consultants”, - said Mira Antonyan, President of the Armenian Association of Social Workers.
“The Embassy of Japan focuses on human resource enhancement for economic and regional development in implementing development assistance in Armenia. We strongly believe that this Project has contributed to the improvement of welfare and enhancement of the life of vulnerable people around the country through the capacity building of social workers and vocational training for targeted people. In closing, I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude once again to all parties involved in this significant project”,- said Rika Onodera, Second Secretary for the Economic Cooperation at the Embassy of Japan in Armenia.
“Our vision is to support the families, to promote the development of families’ capacities. That is why the activation component is so important, moreover, the activation component is the key component in this Project. It is supposed that the social worker and business consultant will develop the beneficiaries’ knowledge and skills by supporting and activating them. We must try to reach the level, when the beneficiaries, applying the initiatives that they will come up with in the framework of this Project, will finally be able to have independent and sustainable income. The importance of the Project is that the potential and labor force of the regional centers of the United social services are in the focus of development. Our vision is work, overcoming the dependence on benefits, becoming self-sufficient through self-employment. This is the way we have chosen, the point we should reach,” - said Yevgine Vardanyan.
“I think that people are changing the world, at least you can change something around you. I dream a lot that in two years we will invite in this hall not the beneficiaries, but the local small business representatives. I hope this hall will be full with people starting a new business and individuals with a sustainable income. Let us try to reach that day together,” - concluded Mira Antonyan, AASW President.
The beneficiaries of the “Family Benefit” system, who participated in the community meeting, first emphasized the importance of the entrepreneurial grants provided by the project, asked various questions to the Project representatives, presented their initial business ideas, and expressed their willingness to be involved in the project.
More than 750,000 people in Armenia live below the poverty line. It is expected that the quality of life of over 11,000 households will be improved with the help of this three-year program. By the end of the project, at least 300 beneficiaries (40% women) will receive a small grant (US$ 4000 each), of which at least 225 business projects will become self-sufficient. 200 social workers, including case managers of local social assistance departments and community social workers, will master their case management skills.
The JSDF was established by the Government of Japan and the World Bank as a mechanism to provide direct assistance to the poorest and most vulnerable groups in eligible World Bank countries. The aim is to enhance their capacities, strengthen their empowerment and participation in society and economic life.