Many people may not see beyond Lousig Barsumian’s quiet temperament. Indeed, her bright mind, inexhaustible energy, ability to plan and think of every detail, and her purposefulness may not all be revealed at first glance.

Lousig, 35, was born and raised in Syria. Six years ago, she left on a 10-day vacation to Armenia with her husband Arman, and their then three-year-old daughter, Alik. They decided to stay forever.

“On the third day of the trip, my husband decided that we would not go back,” recalled Lousig. In Syria, Arman, 38, had been a silversmith, and the area where his shop was located had already been hit hard by the war. They decided that it wasn’t reasonable for the family to return. They left all of their property in Aleppo, as it wasn’t possible to transport it to Armenia due to the war. Lousig’s wedding rings, however, which she had left in Syria for the trip, were later sent to her by her family. From that day on, they began their new life in Armenia—searching for jobs, a kindergarten, and a place to live.

“Three months later, I found a job as an assistant to an accountant, but it was tough as it was very different from the practices I knew in Syria. When I got pregnant with my son, I stopped working,” said Lousig, a professional accountant who had worked for 12 years at one of the leading interior design companies in Syria. When her son turned one, she was able to busy herself with her second craft—making and selling jewelry.

“I was making bijous (fancy, hand-made accessories) for 12 years in Syria. First, it was a hobby. Then it became a serious job. I was mostly working with beads, and I even gave classes. I also wanted to cook professionally, but this was a long-range plan,” said Lousig, with a warm smile. In Armenia, she has attended five different culinary courses organized by UNHCR and other organizations. “I learned Armenian and French cuisine, baking…. Yet, I found it difficult to start a business.”

The different organizations then helped Lousig to start. To make sure that taking culinary training was not a waste of time they recommended her to their partners. Soon, the lunch orders started to come in. Then people wanted cakes, which is what she most loves to make.

Nine months ago, Lousig registered her family catering company and bakery, which she currently runs out of her home, as Moon Bakery. Just a few days later, she found out that she received a grant and a zero-interest loan from FAR’s Small Business Assistance Program. She used the financial support to purchase a refrigerator, an oven, a mixer, and various containers and cake decorating equipment.

The program, which started in 2016, has already supported 17 Syrian-Armenian business owners, three of whom, including Lousig, are women, thus helping to lay a foundation for their economic integration in Armenia.

“If I get an order for a hard-to-cook cake, it makes me happy since I’m always up for the challenge,” said Lousig. She tries to make her cakes and biscuits as unique as possible as a way to try and develop her niche within the huge variety of similar businesses in Yerevan.

She also continues to help her husband, who was the first Syrian-Armenian to start selling silver at Vernisage market in Yerevan. Lousig designs silver jewelry that her husband later has crafted by local jewelers, and which are then exhibited and sold both in Armenia and abroad.

“In Syria, it was enough for just one person to work and help a large family to live a decent life. Yet, I can’t just sit around and do nothing. I would work as an accountant and would make handmade accessories on the side. I love working. Yet, here, in Armenia, you must work to live. Good thing that the number of orders I receive keeps increasing over time,” she said. Lousig is persistent now, and the family will stay in Armenia. “It was easy for us to set up. It was difficult to get things working and ensuring the means to make a living. Now, it’s become our usual life.”

On the eve of International Women’s Day, Lousig wishes all women good health and calls them to always create something of their own.

We at FAR are so proud to have supported this young, determined business woman. We wish all the best for you and your family, Lousig!