It was the need for peace and a better quality of life that caused Zareh Mangilikian and his family to flee their home in Syria. It was the belief that his family could obtain that better life in the land of their roots that brought them to Armenia in 2013.
When civil war engulfed his country, Zareh knew that it was only a matter of time before he had to get out. He, his wife Rita, and their two children, Arlin, 9, and Ari-Kevork, 12, first escaped to Lebanon, where they were safe but not content; Lebanon didn’t offer the kind of lifestyle they wanted. A few months later, Zareh arrived in Yerevan determined to carve out a new life and raise his two children in a safe and comfortable environment.
“I think I could be OK settling in nearly any country, however my family is a priority for me, so my wife and I decided to go to Armenia so we could provide our children with a secure and happy childhood,” said the 40-year-old entrepreneur.
Zareh described his path to establishing his jewelry business, ZCreation, as one that has required hard work and perseverance. Yet, ultimately, Zareh believes that it’s quality of life and cultural commonalities that really matter, which is why he ended up resettling in his homeland.
“When we reached Armenia, I had only $900 in my pocket. We rented a house for $250 and, two months later, I had only $50 dollars left,” said Zareh.
Shortly after moving to Armenia, Rita found a job at the FAR Children’s Center as a social worker. When her colleagues learned about ZCreation, they ordered some pieces. A small glimmer of hope entered Zareh’s life with these early orders. It was thanks to them that he was really able to relaunch the jewelry business he had started in Syria. His $50 savings soon increased through hard work. He reinvested in his business using the profits, initially buying some essential tools, like an appropriate work table, with which he could craft pieces and fulfill further orders.
FAR has supported Zareh through our Small Business Assistance Program for Syrian-Armenian Entrepreneurs (SBA). To boost his business and make it more efficient, last year Zareh used the investment money from SBA to purchase a 3D printer, which enables him to now produce all of his own pieces.
“I have been dreaming about this printer for five years. Usually, I would outsource my work, which cost a lot of money. This printer was a great chance for me to progress. I want to save up money so we can buy a house,” smiled the jewelry designer, who sees his family’s future in Armenia, nowhere else.
Zareh and his family have enthusiastically thrown themselves into their new life. Now in his new routine, Zareh is progressing with his business, meeting new people and making contacts. The Syrian-Armenian businessman counts Russians, Kazakhs, Lebanese and Taiwanese among some of his latest clients. Recently, Zareh was even able to expand his office space. Rita now runs a local charity organization, and Arlin and Ari-Kevork are doing well in the local schools.
“My key to success is my creativity; I do unique designs that can’t be found anywhere. I started everything from scratch and I’m sure to progress in the future. My family lives a happy life, and this is all I have been looking for. Of course we have ups and downs, and we learn a lot from these ups and downs,” says Zareh, “Under no circumstances will we ever go back to Syria.”
SBA is made possible thanks to the generous support of the Atesian Family of Detroit, Michigan