Encouraging Self-reliance through Micro-Enterprises

This project seeks to enhance the self-sufficiency and integration of returnees, refugees, and displaced persons in Armenia by providing micro-enterprise training, business credit for self-employment and job opportunities.

It also targets women and people with low incomes to make them more self-sufficient. This, in turn, will lessen the need for them to leave their home communities to find work abroad.

Key Objectives

The project's key objectives are:

  • Create long-lasting self-employment and work opportunities for displaced people and those with low incomes, including women, thereby easing their self-sufficiency and integration with the community.
  • Enable displaced people and those with low incomes, including women, to depend less on humanitarian assistance and to become self-sufficient.
  • Contribute to the growth of a vibrant micro-enterprise sector in the country's move to a market economy.
  • To create a financially and institutionally sustainable micro-enterprise development project.
  • To help create a policy environment that encourages micro-enterprise development in the country.


  • Refugees
  • Returnees
  • Internally displaced people
  • Households headed by women
  • People with low incomes

Concrete Benefits

  • Over 1,750 persons completed training in micro-enterprise (small business) management.
  • Development of a complete training curriculum on micro-enterprise.
  • Loans amounting to more than 3.8 million US dollars are benefiting over 3,400 families.
  • Eighty-nine per cent of the loans were repaid. Loans have been extended for starting or restarting businesses.
  • Ninety-two per cent of all loan recipients monitored for impact reported an increase in income. Ninety-one per cent reported a significant quality of life change for the better.
  • The project has a qualified pool of business advisors and loan appraisers, mainly nationals who have become well experienced and skilled during the course of the project.
  • A partnership has been forged with national banks and a national educational institution. Staff from the National Institute of Economy teach the curriculum.
"The micro-enterprise development project seeks to enhance the self-sufficiency and integration of returnees, refugees and internally displaced people through the provision of micro-enterprise training, business support and credit for self-employment, and employment opportunities for over 3,500 vulnerable families. While belonging to the schemes alternative to humanitarian aid, project activities contribute to the United Nations Development Assistance Framework, aiming to provide beneficiaries with a sustainable source of income through self-employment or employment opportunities, thus contributing to the reduction of poverty in general."
-- Ilona Ter-Minasyan, Head of Office, IOM Yerevan

Project Description

The most realistic support alternative to humanitarian aid, in the medium term, is the small business sector. In the experience of IOM, an effective form of reintegration assistance is promoting a person's self-sufficiency through micro-enterprise development projects. IOM makes use of micro-credit schemes to provide beneficiaries with a lasting source of income by self-employment or job opportunities, lessening their dependence on humanitarian aid and contributing to the reduction of poverty in general.

Since 1997, the Micro-enterprise Development Project has sought to increase the economic self-sufficiency of vulnerable people as well as to help the integration of returnees (asylum seekers, victims of trafficking), refugees and displaced persons by providing micro-enterprise training, credit and employment opportunities. Vulnerable people and especially women are also trained to increase their self-sufficiency and thereby lessen the need for them to work abroad.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Governments of the United States and Japan provided the funds for this project. IOM carries out the project with Armenia's Ministry of Industry and Economic Development and Ministry of Education.


  • Inform potential beneficiaries of what the project offers through the local media. Register interested persons.
  • Offer participants a training course in small business. The subjects include management, types of businesses, accounting and taxation, marketing and business planning.
  • Business advisors assist participants in preparing a business plan for financing. Loans are made through local banks.
  • Support the formation of micro-business associations at local levels.
  • Monitor and evaluate the impact of the project.
  • Form a local non-profit group that will take over the project and operate under IOM's supervision and support. Review the options of lending directly or via national banks. Get local legal consultation for the registration process.