Nare Melkumyan has always enjoyed manicures. As a child, she played manicurist using the petals of flowers as her special “polish.” Now, at 31, she is an entrepreneur, running her own nail salon out of her three-room apartment in Berd City.

“I started this business two years ago, when I was still at my in-laws’ place in Verin Karmiraghbyur Village, but commuting was hard for me so I rented this apartment,” she said.

Nare lives here with her three daughters, Mariam, 11, Arpi, 4, and Liana, 2. Her husband, Karen, is in St. Petersburg for seasonal construction work.

While Nare had a vision of creating a safe and welcoming environment for her clients, she couldn’t afford an up-to-date sterilizer, proper chairs, and the basic tools of the trade. As a result, her client intake was low and she had to make due with mostly out-of-date tools. She decided to apply for FAR’s Start Your Own Business Program, a new component of our Breaking the Cycle of Poverty Program (BCPP). Launched last year, the project has already supported 38 up-and-coming businesses and new business ideas in other villages in Berd, including Artsvaberd, Choratan and Verin Karmiraghbyur. Nare received a whole new set of the required tools and furniture through the program.

“Hygiene and sanitation are the most important parts of the nail care industry. It’s a priority for me to sanitize between every client. The sterilizer that I bought through FAR’s program is much safer than the one I had before,” she said.

With an average of about 90 customer visits per month, Nare now has twice as many clients than she did a year ago. She markets herself primarily through Facebook and word of mouth, and has yet to name her business.

She has also participated in a five-day training through Start Your Own Business, which helped her and 11 other villagers from Verin Karmiraghbyur to evaluate and manage their expenditures/revenue, as well as how to better market their business through relevant online and offline platforms.

“Now, I want to expand my business and rent a beauty salon. I just need a partner, and a good and affordable place. It’s my life’s dream,” she said.

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