It was August of 2012 when 12 like-minded people both repatriates and Diasporans came together to announce the establishment of Repat Armenia Foundation. With its vision to inform, initiate and actively champion the repatriation of high-impact (professional, entrepreneurial) individuals and families and to influence government policies to develop a pro-repatriation environment in Armenia, Repat Armenia Foundation has become the link for thousands of Armenians to connect, engage, work, volunteer, repat, integrate, network and become the impactful part of their homeland.
As 2019 is just around the corner, it’s the right time to rewind our highlights of 2018, the year that announced a new era for all of us, together.
February 9th, 2018 - Introducing Repat Start Up Mentorship Program
‘’Imagine Armenia’’ forums abroad and the feedbacks we got from repatriates brought us to realization that we should assist innovative individuals that are ready to start a new project to have a direct impact on the development of Armenia. Therefore, we created Repat Start Up Mentorship program to provide support designed to help high impact startups thrive in Armenia. The five components of the program- mentorship, environment, network, legal support and promotion were prioritized in order to support applicants who live outside of Armenia or have lived in Armenia for less than three years and have previous experience in business or social initiative sectors including, but not limited to tourism, medical services, technology, agriculture, communication & information, education, social initiatives, and production.
10 experienced professionals agreed to become the Program’s mentors and 6 ideas out of 25 applications were chosen and matched with their mentor. With one-on-one professional mentorship tailored to their needs, access to a co-working space (Impact Hub Yerevan) for the full year, legal support, marketing and PR assistance, participation in Sevan Startup Summit 2018, these projects started their journey.
On November 8, three projects out of six introduced their 6-months’ progress during the ‘’Repat Start Up Meet & Greet’’ event.
Repat Start Up will announce its second call during the January of the upcoming year and is more than ready to support new crazy ideas from all around the world to be implemented in Armenia.
Read our blog posts and repat stories from February here
March 30, 2018 - Armenian Symposium 2018
The Armenian Symposium was a one-day conference organised by the Armenian student society of University College London and co-organised by Repat Armenia.
The Symposium consisted of several public speeches and discussion panels, creating a dialogue between Armenia, its diaspora communities and the rest of the world. The aim was to increase Armenia’s presence in London, one of the world’s financial and cultural capitals, through the creation of a platform that facilitates the exchange of ideas and the promotion of dialogue and collaboration for the development of Armenia.
Bright minds, impactful speakers, network and dialogue can be the 4 phrase description of the event, which you can watch live here and take a look at the photos here.
Read our March blogposts and repat stories here
April, 2018 - Armenia wears Velvet
While Repat Armenia Foundation as a Non-Governmental Organization remained impartial and objective, those who deem themselves repatriates did have personal opinions on all the events that were taking place in the country during the first days of the mass protests.
On April 20, we gathered a few thoughts to help our followers worldwide to get a better understanding of the mindset and emotional state of those living in Armenia. The 9 opinions included were by a myriad of individuals from different walks of life and cultural backgrounds. They included repatriates from Canada, the US, the UAE, Russia, Syria, and Lebanon. Read the article here
On April 22, 2018 for the first time, taking into consideration the critical importance of the current situation in Armenia, Repat Armenia made a statement :
‘’We’ve reached a critical point where first and foremost the Government of Armenia must be held accountable for this current situation. We have no space for mistakes or self-deception. Otherwise, we’ll be faced with a serious and long lasting crisis, weakening of statehood and national security, leading to growing apathy and migration from Armenia’’.
On April 23, the Velvet Revolution celebrated its ‘’first victory’’ as the newly elected PM Serj Sargsyan announced his resignation.
What comes next?
With the future still quite hazy in terms of the country’s politics and socio-economics after the April 23rd, we gathered opinions from some of the repatriates who were directly or indirectly involved in the whole process. Each was entitled to their opinions, and with new information being released per hour, it was also subject to change. Read about 8 different viewpoints of repatriates from Russia, the US, Canada, Syria, Germany and Argentina here
Read our April blog posts and repat stories here
May 8, 2018 - The Wind Of Change
On May 8, the leader of the Velvet Revolution Nikol Pashinyan was elected as the new Prime Minister of Armenia. The Republic Square of Armenia celebrated this news having hundred thousands of people gathered together to congratulate each other.
‘’The oxygen in Armenia today feels cleaner, so my lungs, heart and spirit are ready to face all new challenges in Armenia and Artsakh with greater resilience and passion’’- writes Lara Tcholakian in her ‘’Glory to the people in Armenia, Artsakh and the Diaspora’’ blogpost.
May 9 and 12, 2018 - ‘’Imagine Armenia’’ Canada
These past 6 years have been full of Imagine Armenia forums abroad which have successfully united 90 repatriate speakers with more than 4000 participants in key Diaspora communities and more than 130,000 people joining online. This time it was Canada’s turn.
On May 9th, for the first time in Toronto, Repat Armenia in cooperation with DEPOP Institute For Governance hosted "Imagine Armenia" forum to share reasons & best ways to get engaged with Armenia! There were over 150 attendees and 88,000 views on our live feed. On May 12th, for the first time in Montreal, Repat Armenia in cooperation with AGBU Young Professionals Montreal, hosted "Imagine Armenia" forum. There were over 230 attendees and 5,0000 views on our live feed.
The goal of the events was to introduce Repat Armenia to the Canada-based Armenian community, with panelists from different businesses/organizations that shared their experience of doing business in Armenia. Also, volunteer and professional opportunities for the youth to work and gain experience while they contribute to Armenia's development.
We would like to thank all the attendees, organizations, promotional partners, volunteers and speakers for their efforts and support!
Read our May blog posts and repat stories here
Summer, 2018 - Events, Stories and Blogs
Well, the summer of 2018 was casually ‘’crazy’’. We welcomed summer with our ‘’Mix & Mingle’’ event, where over 100 repats and locals met each other, made new friends in a casual environment and enjoyed the great atmosphere, delicious food and the good music on Tuesday, 12th of June at Gouroo Club & Gardenat. Gouroo Club & Gardenat is a business launched recently by Repats from Moscow.
Nas Daily in Armenia, yay! More 10 great videos about Armenia Nas Daily showed Armenia to his more than 11 million community members on Facebook. Thank you, Nas!
We organised several meetings with our focus groups from different countries and walks of life to talk about the repatriation and the challenges faced.
Summer, Sevan and Startups - this perfect combination is called Sevan Startup Summit 2018! Started on July 22nd, it brought together innovators and changemakers from all walks of life.
As an ecosystem partner, Repat Armenia Foundation participated with Repat Startup Program. Our participant startups Profi and Food.Net were actively involved in SSS and gave us the inside scoop of Sevan Startup Summit. We talked about teamwork, mentorship and campground life here.
We launched our first ever ‘’Ask Me’’ Campaign, a day where anyone who is interested in living, studying, working or volunteering in Armenia has a chance to chat and get to know someone who has had a similar experience. Taking over Yerevan, on a Saturday afternoon, Repat Armenia ambassadors were walking around the city, swinging by different repat businesses and engaging with people. Anyone who had a slight interest in moving, working, studying or even volunteering in Armenia had the opportunity to get a better insight from someone who had been through a similar experience. It was a great chance to make connections and network with people.
And, yaaay, our amazing Community Manager Tamar Najarian came back to the office from her maternity leave!
Read some blogposts and repat stories from Summer 2018 here
September, 2018 - Following up the Velvet
In order to follow up the Velvet, we gathered some insights from the past 116 days from repatriates who have moved to Armenia over the past decade from various diaspora communities. Wanna read? Here is the link. Also, we helped our community to be prepared for the Council of Elders elections, which took place on September 23. Who can vote and who they can vote for was covered in article with useful tips and information for repatriates.
September was a busy month for our Repat Armenia Health Insurance package. In 2016, collaborating with Rossgostrakh Armenia ICJSC, we created a package deal as the individual health insurance practice is not available in Armenia. The first year, 50 people resorted to us for the package. This year, 130 repats did. Learn more about it here.
Trips outside the city with over 50 repatriates is always an interesting event. A trip through Lori, exploring its development and technology centers alongside a repat-owned business is even more so. On September 29, with the help of Zatik Tours and Services (repat-owned) for transportation, Repat Armenia took 52 individuals out to the neighboring province.
The two main centers visited were the Vanadzor Technology Center, housing a number of tech startups as well as a few seasoned IT enterprises, and the newly opened COAF SMART Center, a huge institution allowing children from over 6 villages to study and acquire new skills free-of-charge. The visitors have remarked on how much they enjoyed the trip and look forward to similar ones in the future. In cities and regions where development is often slow, these operations lend to a significant quickening of the process, bringing jobs, skills and some much-needed diversity with them.
Guests on the trip included repatriates and potential repatriates from Lebanon, USA, Syria, Iran, Australia, Switzerland, Canada, Dubai, Austria, and Spain, as well as locals. Photos from the day were generously provided by Canadian repatriate Shant Kel Khacherian.
Read some interesting blog posts and repat stories from September here
October, 2018 - Events, Stories and Blogs
The word of the month was ‘’Farewell’’. Our incredible colleague, Tatev Babayan turned on a new page in her life’s story. We wish her every success in all her future endeavors.
Also, another word used more than 1000 times a day, was ‘’insurance’’. On October 26 we organized a Q&A event where Rosgosstrakh experts presented the package and answered to all the questions and concerns of repatriates.
Oh, we almost forgot to mention about our Happy Hours. Twice a month, Repat Armenia tried to hold an after-work get-together, where repats came out for a drink, dinner and/or just a good time! This was great for newcomers especially to meet and interact, all while promoting a repat business. Now you know, join us in 2019!
Read some interesting blog posts and repat stories from October here
November, 2018 - Just ASK, because YOU Can
November was the month for Repat Start Up participants to shine. On November 8, 3 participants presented the progress they have achieved over the past 6 months at ‘’Meet & Greet: Introducing Repat Start Up Projects’’ event. Ranging from social entrepreneurship to IT sectors, these projects have been developed from scratch. Having the support from the Repat Start Up mentors, our mentees have been working hard and were ready to share their experiences.
Blooming Armenia by Tatevik Khatchikian from France, which is a program that supports Armenian regions
PROF by Mher Hovakimyan from Russia, which helps to quickly solve household issues with the help of experts
Food.net by Elmira Poghosyan also from Russia, which is about saving food and helping the ones in need.
Remember the Repat Armenia ''Ask Me'' campaign - where anyone interested in either living, working, studying or volunteering in Armenia had a chance to chat and network with someone who has had a similar experience? It's back, but with a twist! In November, we started holding ‘’Ask Me: Live Q&As on Facebook’’, where people had the chance to ask directly to the repatriates regarding social and professional experiences in Armenia. So far, Nazareth Seferian, Raffi Elliot and Tania Gregorian have been guests of the live Q&As. Each Ask Me live has a different theme with repats from different countries. With over 30,000 views and 100 questions answered, the guests have gladly shared their professional experiences and provided newcomers with connections to pave their way to building a career in Armenia.
Children’s integration in Armenia is another important topic that we highlighted in this year’s activities. Moving to Armenia is as hard for kids as it is for adults, and it takes a while for it to sink in. Changing schools, living in a new environment, making new friends can all be too much for children, which is why we took it upon themselves to learn more about repat students and their integration needs. We visited Ashot Navasartian school in Yerevan which has 19 repat students. After arranging meetings with the students, parents and director, we received a comprehensive understanding of the current integrational challenges most of the repats face there. Along with their support, we will continue the student integration policy development, which will be presented to the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Armenia.
Repat Armenia directly intervened with the banking issues Iranian-Armenians faced during the year. Iranian-Armenians with Armenian citizenship or residency encountered a serious problem when they were told to close their bank accounts or were refused to be served for their foreign or local bank accounts. The Armenian banking systems implemented these actions as a result of the US sanctions against Iran. Repat Armenia arranged a focus group with all Iranian-Armenians to come up with solutions and decided to send a letter to the Central Bank of Armenia. The letter called for a meeting to discuss the problems, find reasonable solutions and to prevent protests from taking place.
Read our November blog posts and repat stories here
December, 2018 - Merry Christmas and the Country of the YEAR!
Following up the Velvet, again! December was all about politics. Early parliamentary elections took place on December 9th. As Repat Armenia strongly believes that discussing the Armenia-Diaspora policy agenda is a must when it comes to pre-electoral campaigns of any party, a debate was co-organized together with Impact Hub Yerevan. All 11 political parties were invited to the debate out of which 6 party’ representatives were present. They were Citizen’s Decision, ARF, My Step Alliance, Sasna Tsrer (The Daredevils of Sasun) and We Alliance. Thanks to the “Armenia Towards the Diaspora: Priorities and Institutional Solutions” debate, repatriates gained valuable insight on political matters.
We made it to elections and there we go - ‘’Armenia is the country of the year’’ by Economist. Exciting, right? But wait, we are not there yet!
Here are some statistics from the 2018 of Repat Armenia Foundation:
Support and integration:
-58% increase (800) of people visiting us and asking our support in integration and repatriation: Increase from Iran, Russia, Lebanon, expats.
-Armenian Repatriates Network has had around 6600 new members: that’s a 30% increase!
-The Repat Armenia Health Insurance package is being used by 130 people: that’s a 50% increase!
-6 participants and 12 mentors in Repat Start Up Mentorship Programme.
-14% increase of our website readers (385.000) and 30% increase of our followers (33.000) in social media outlets.
-‘’Imagine Armenia’’ forum in Canada - 500 participants, 12 speakers
-200,000 live views from all over the world
-‘’Ask Me’’ Campaign - 30 ambassadors and 3 Live Q&A with more than 30,000 live views
Developing a pro-repatriation environment:
-8 focus groups discussed the repatriation challenges and possible solutions for Armenia’s Repatriation Policy.
-First meeting of the working group consisting of 12 private and public institutions to discuss the repatriation policy development with the Ministry of Diaspora of RA.
-“Armenia Towards the Diaspora: Priorities and Institutional Solutions” debate co-organized with Impact Hub Yerevan to discuss the Armenia-Diaspora policy agenda in pre-electoral campaigns of political parties.
You made it till the end! Wishing you happy holidays and a great 2019!