FAR Gives Hope to an Aspiring Entrepreneur


For Margarita Alkhasyan, 43, making jingalov hats has become her therapy.

Displaced by the Artsakh War, she was looking for a way to escape her residual stress and move forward.

“I was also hoping for something that would allow me to put food on the table,” she said, as she explained why, shortly after finding shelter in Armenia’s Sisian Region, she applied to our Support for Artsakh’s Displaced project’s business assistance initiative.

“Every night when closing my eyes I could only think of the war, my house in Tsaghkaberd [Artsakh], which was surrounded by tall poplar trees that my husband, Surik, had planted a few years before,” Margarita said. “But those memories stopped me from seeking opportunities to progress.”

To take her mind off of her spiraling thoughts, she started making the Artsakh flatbread specialty in her small oven at home. Now, through FAR’s project, she is trying to establish herself as a small business owner.

Margarita, Surik, and their children, Lilit, 23, Gor, 18, Sona, 16, Arman, 13, and Elen, 7, left their village in October 2020. Thinking it would be temporary, they took only their identity papers. They then lost their home along with their animals—28 cows, two pigs, seven sheep, and 80 hens—when Azeris occupied the village.

After landing in Sisian, Margarita started to make jingalov hats for her family and neighbors. Since receiving FAR’s grant to launch her small business she was able to purchase a larger oven and other necessary kitchen tools.

But her dream is bigger than that.

“I would like to have a small bakery in the center of Sisian where I could make lavash, khachapuri, and potato pirazhk,” she said. “I would also hire my sister-in-law to bake her special pakhlava.”

For now, her assistant is Elen who helps her after school and on weekends. Surik helps her make deliveries. She is trying to get more customers and wants to eventually rent out a separate space for her bakery.