Lilit Melkumyan, 30, juggles multiples responsibilities at one time. A mother to Sirusho, 8, and Alen, 6, Lilit is a school cafeteria cook, a small-scale farmer, and the owner of her own growing pastry business.
Lilit’s passion for cake decoration goes back to her childhood when she used any opportunity to pretend she was baking. Yet, she never thought about pursuing baking as a profitable business until about three years ago when she decided to make a small cake for her mother-in-law’s 54th birthday.
“First, I started baking for my relatives and neighbors, then I took some of my creations to stores in the village to create a buzz about my ‘business,’” said Lilit.
Two years ago, her husband, Armen, began spending half the year in Russia for seasonal construction work. He still has not found a job with a stable income. Lilit’s salary from the school cafeteria is only about USD 30 per month, very little for a family to make ends meet. Thus, Lilit had to grow what she started.
Gradually, her baking business, which she named “Sweet Live,” became the main source of income for her small family from Verin Karmiraghbyur Village in the Berd Region. Sweet Life now brings in between USD 120-140 a month.
To build her entrepreneurial skills, last year Lilit applied for the preliminary training called “Start Your Own Business,” FAR’s brand-new project, and a part of BCPP, which is aimed to help new and early age businesses thrive and succeed.
Following the training, Lilit applied for support from the program, which enabled her to receive funding for the equipment she needed to scale up her business—a mixer, a refrigerator, an oven, trays, and bases, etc. “When they called and informed me that I was selected to receive funding I was overjoyed; I was so happy, I couldn’t even focus on my work,” Lilit said.
Lilit still works at the cafeteria and does farming at home. But Sweet Live feels more legitimate now, and she continues to actively promote it; FAR is also helping her to design a logo. It’s not unusual for her to bake three cakes a day. “My orders have tripled,” she said. “Now, I often get orders from other villages, like Choratan, Berd and Norashen. People trust me more than ever because of the new resources that I got through the program, although the quality of my cakes has always remained the same.”