Astghik Tserunyan, 32, a housewife and mother of three, had for a long time been looking for a way to make some additional income. In her tiny village of Aygedzor, however, options are slim.
As someone who has always enjoyed sewing, Astghik had thought about the possibility of turning that interest into a business opportunity.

Recently, our Breaking the Cycle of Poverty Program (BCPP) came to help. The program’s Social Component for Large Families initiative helps low-income families with at least three children to better their situations through individualized action plans and microenterprise opportunities.

In 2017, Astghik received a sewing machine, along with some sewing materials, and an offer from our Berd Office to start earning income by making new bedclothes to be used at kindergartens in the region.

Now, the mother of 15-year-old Anahit, 13-year-old Mamikon, and 11-year-old Zaruhi, counts being a great tailor as one of her talents. “At first I would sew bedspreads, tablecloths and kitchen towels, which I managed to sell thanks to the support of my mother-in-law who works at a school and helped me market my products,” she said.

From the start, she put her profits right back into her business. “Using the money I’d earned, I bought some more materials to make things for another round of orders,” said Astghik.

Astghik’s husband Arthur usually spends a portion of each year in Russia for seasonal construction work, leaving the burden of caring for the children on his wife’s shoulders. With her new business doing relatively well, Astghik said she has become more control of her family’s finances; she diligently records her income and expenses to track how much she earns.

“We were recently able to afford some dental work for my youngest daughter,” she said. “I can’t complain. There is income now. When I was selected by FAR to be part of the program, I was worried because it was a lot to take on. But now, with everything going well, I’m very happy and excited. My income is now even enough to allow us to save what my husband earns in Russia.”

Astghik’s next door neighbor, Liana Ordyan, 29, has also been positively impacted by the Social Component for Large Families. For the past two years, Liana has also sewn bedclothes, tablecloths and towels. The income she makes is a small but important addition to her income.

Previously in the military, Liana’s husband, David, also works a good part of the year in Russia. Liana and her four children, Olga, 9; Hasmik, 7; Sofia, 4; and Ashot, 1; live with David’s parents.

“My mother was very good at sewing. I am also good at sewing. At first, when FAR representatives said they would give me a sewing machine to help, I didn’t believe them,” said Liana, who sells her products around Aygedzor, as well as in Berd City and Ijevan. “I’m very thankful, as this tool has helped to improve our lives.”

Breaking the Cycle of Poverty Program (BCPP) is a multidimensional FAR project addressing child poverty in the Berd Region of Tavush Province, and is sponsored by the Edward and Helen Mardigian Foundation.