On February 24, 2021 USAID announced $2.65 million in additional funding to expand the scope of two projects that work to strengthen Armenia’s agricultural sector to include more targeted support for female entrepreneurs and the formation of cooperatives.
USAID’s Rural Economic Development – New Economic Opportunities (RED-NEO) project, which launched in February 2019, received $1.15 million in additional funding, bringing the project’s total to $5.15 million. The project will use these additional funds to build women’s capacity and enhance entry points for rural entrepreneurship; as well as deepen stakeholders’ capacity and commitment to address barriers to women’s economic leadership. These efforts will complement RED-NEO’s ongoing activities to strengthen Armenia’s horticulture and viticulture value chains. Participants trained by the program are able to apply for small grants to upgrade their production capacities. To date, the project has issued 29 in-kind grants, and over 100 grants in total will be provided over the life of the project. RED-NEO’s support contributed over 11 percent on average to grant recipients’ 2020 revenues.
With this additional funding, RED-NEO will work to address the economic gender gap, and provide women in the agricultural sector with business skills including management, financing, forecasting, and marketing. Closing the economic gender gap is an important opportunity for Armenia – by one estimate, the country could annually increase its GDP by 14 percent if women were allowed to enter the labor market at the rate they wanted to. The activity will establish a mentoring program to foster new partnerships and reinforce existing networks among women entrepreneurs, students, business associations, and other entities.
USAID is also providing an additional $1.5 million to the Innovative Agriculture Training & Learning Camp (AGRI CAMP) project to strengthen formal agricultural cooperatives and business development; and increase women’s access to agricultural innovation. The project’s total funding is now $1.9 million. AGRI CAMP, which launched in May 2020, is renovating facilities at the Armenian National Agrarian University in Kotayk marz where entrepreneurs from rural Armenia will learn new skills to expand their businesses and increase the sophistication of their production.
With this additional funding, AGRI CAMP will strengthen the skills and networks of female agripreneurs by bringing together technical specialists, entrepreneurs, and engineers to craft innovative solutions to agriculture (for example, using advanced irrigation technologies to maximize produce with minimal use of water and fertilizers). AGRI CAMP expects that by April 30, 2023, at least 1,000 female farmers will be better able to use new farming practices and technologies, ultimately leading to higher business revenues and household incomes.