Armenia continues to face critical economic challenges despite significant progress in macro-economic and structural reforms. The country’s economic growth as measured by gross domestic product (GDP) has been strong; however, export competitiveness, employment, gross national income (GNI) per capita, and energy security are all lower than the regional norm. Many aspects of economic development which are necessary for ensuring the sustainability of economic growth, such as the business enabling environment, private sector capacity, the creation of productive employment opportunities and poverty reduction, have not adequately progressed. Widening disparities in wealth and income have also led to a serious socioeconomic divide on several levels, most notably between rural and urban areas.
USAID works to enhance more inclusive growth in Armenia by supporting competitive industries that generate more productive employment, increase access to markets and finance, and level the playing field for investments, businesses and entrepreneurs. Sustaining inclusive growth entails effective policies, increased regional integration, a diversified economy, a competitive workforce that can drive future growth, and strategic use of resources. To achieve this, USAID assists the Government of Armenia to improve the business enabling environment by specifically targeting areas where Armenia scores poorly, and to increase the competitiveness of Armenia’s economy both internationally and domestically, focusing on sectors with the greatest potential—especially for SMEs.
The USAID Enterprise Development and Market Competitiveness (EDMC) project is designed to improve Armenia’s business environment and support the development of small and medium-sized enterprises. The overall goal is to assist Armenia to develop a more competitive and diversified private sector. The project aims to increase employment and incomes in Armenia by promoting growth in targeted value chains that have strong export potential: Information Technologies, Biopharmaceuticals, Food Processing, and Tourism. EDMC activities also foster innovation, enhance critical workforce skills, and facilitate financial intermediation.
Armenian National Engineering Laboratories (ANEL) – a Global Development Alliance with the Enterprise Incubator Foundation, State Engineering University of Armenia (SEUA), National Instruments, and the RA Ministry of Education and Science. The state-of-the-art labs at SEUA provide modern engineering education to help address Armenia’s shortage of and demand for qualified specialists who are trained in up-to-date technologies. The project will also strengthen the educational capacity and enhance the research potential of SEUA by upgrading and expanding its laboratory facilities and teaching skills.
The Innovation Through Technology partnership supports the creation of innovative startups and new products in the IT sector by providing IT/Engineering students and starting professionals with access to the latest technologies, business and market knowledge, trainings, certifications, targeted coaching, networking, and financial resources.
The Partnership for Rural Prosperity (PRP) program promotes rural economic development in Armenia. PRP will help rural communities to identify local economic growth opportunities, expand employment prospects for women, youth and vulnerable groups, facilitates infrastructure upgrades, and improve access to finance and markets. The program will launch a nationwide Local Economic Development initiative to introduce a brand new approach to community development that engages both private and public actors and community members.
The Advanced Rural Development Initiative (ARDI) will develop competitive rural value chains to increase incomes and improve livelihoods of 48 rural communities in Syunik, Shirak and Lori marzes of Armenia. ARDI will also build the capacity of rural entrepreneurs–specifically youth and women–to increase their sales and/or revenues and create jobs for community members.
The Support to Rapid Regulatory Simplification project provides assistance to the Armenian government in regulatory reform, potentially utilizing the guillotine approach, to stimulate private sector growth, investment and job creation.
The Entrepreneurship and Civic Activism for Young People program supports hands-on economics and civic education for high school students and enhances their business talents to help them become the future skilled labor force and entrepreneurs of Armenia. Students learn to create their own companies, develop marketing strategies, sell their products, and exercise corporate social responsibility in their communities.
Last updated: January 26, 2015