Gyumri native Levon Hakobyan, 21, first had the dream of opening his own computer and electronics service center back in 2015, when he started his military service. Now, his dream has become a reality thanks to FAR’s Non-Formal Education for Returnees Program, which he completed at the end of last year.

“I wanted to start my business sometime in the future, however this training helped me to finally make up my mind and spend my time and resources efficiently,” remarked the young entrepreneur who opened up the business in December. Today he runs the service center with his younger brother, Edgar, 20, who is currently enrolled in our program.

While Levon focuses on repairing the spare parts of home appliances, Edgar fixes issues with software. The two brothers have already started to generate income. “After the army, it becomes difficult to re-enter the educational process. This specific program enabled me to refresh my knowledge and obtain new skills in radio technology in a very short period,” said Edgar.

Two years ago, we committed ourselves to recruiting and empowering young Armenians who have completed at least two years of military service, including those who participated in the Four-Day War of April 2016.

In partnership with the local NGO Zinvori Mayr (Soldier’s Mother), we initiated the Returnees Program in 2016 to help young people between the ages of 20 and 22 to gain new skills.

Between March and June of this year, 42 young men took courses in jewelry making, technology, mechanics, carpentry, natural resource production in mining, etc. The three-month courses are usually held twice a year.

Levon, along with 89 others from Yerevan, Gyumri, Vanadzor and Alaverdi, participated in the Returnees Program in 2017. Nearly all of them have since kick-started their own businesses or found employment, according to Zinvori Mayr’s Director Anahit Hovnanyan.