I went to the Yerevan StartUp Mixer a couple weeks back, and met a room chock full of smart, savvy, techie young people- the next generation of Armenian IT ground breakers.
In the midst of all the riveting techie start-up discussion Al Eisaian, the man who took the initiative to arrange the mixer, did a shout out on Homeland Handicraft's little knitting start-up in Chinchin. Techie entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship are two branches of the same tree, he said. He showed the little CivilNet TV clip of Mariam Yesayan - 18 years old with cerebral palsy in a village of 400 - and her ambition to bring jobs to her village.
And I wondered if these techie kids with the next Facebook in their eyes would care about the plight of a little village on the outer edge of their reality? But they did. They clapped, they asked questions, they were curious.
It was a great day, an inspirational day, that mixer day.
The Tuesday after, when I was already in bed in the evening, an SMS ticked in. It said that a big chunk of the entrance fee collected at the mixer was to be donated to the project in Chinchin. Knock me over with a feather. Great. Wow.....
So, soon I will be going up to Chinchin and help them create a revolving materials fund. They buy yarn and knitting needles and such with the money, make the product, sell the product, and then pay the material cost back into the revolving fund, perhaps with a small interest paid so the fund grows. This will not be a subsidy, it will be a seed that helps the Chinchin group grow. With this generous contribution and a bunch of hard work, we will soon see a growing, sustainable, thriving handicrafts organization in Chinchin.
Thanks, Yerevan Start-Uppers, you guys rock.