For 15 years, Liana Pakhdigian dreamed about opening her own fitness center. Six months ago, her dream came true when she launched FitnessMix-Jumping. Now, she trains everyone from toddlers to seniors at her own facility.

“I have created everything—the studios for dance classes and yoga, the strength-training classes—everything. It took time and money, but now I have my dream workplace,” the 36-year-old said with pride.

Liana was able to improve her newly-launched business with the help of a grant from FAR’s Small Business Assistance Program (SBA). She is among six other Syrian-Armenian entrepreneurs who were most recently chosen by FAR to receive support to kickstart and/or further develop their own businesses in Armenia through SBA.

Liana was born in Yerevan but married and moved to Syria with her husband Avik in 2008. “Avik had a furniture business there. We had a good life. Yet with the conflict, it became too dangerous. I was pregnant when a missile flew over my head. That was it. We packed and moved to Yerevan,” she said, adding that her two children, Narek, 5, and Narine, 3, were born in Armenia.

During school, Liana was always very active—a leader in class, head of the student union in college. She also volunteered a lot with the Armenian Red Cross, and eventually worked for them for a time as an emergency responder.

“In parallel to all of my activities, I was going to the gym. When the trainer was absent, I would replace her. Sports grabbed my attention and I started reading and exploring more. The idea of having my own fitness center eventually came to me,” Lianna said. “FAR’s support came at the right time. I wanted to renovate the lobby of the space, which was not appealing at all and I believed would discourage clients from joining. I also bought new equipment for the yoga and fitness studios. Now, it’s nice, modern and equipped with everything needed to make the experience truly blissful for my clients.”

Her efforts have paid off in the three months since she received the SBA grant. “I have doubled my client base and my business is growing,” she said.