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EPIC Hosts Teenage Girl Entrepreneurs from Armenia’s Regions

YEREVAN, Armenia ‒ On February 22, 2019, the Entrepreneurship and Product Innovation Center (EPIC) of the American University of Armenia (AUA) hosted schoolgirls that are participants of the Technovation Armenia program. The event aimed at providing them with the opportunity to meet and network with female entrepreneurs of EPIC startups. These schoolgirls came from the marzes of Armenia.

Technovation, a flagship program of the non-profit organization Iridescent, is the world’s largest global tech entrepreneurship competition for girls. The program offers young girls around the world the opportunity to learn the skills necessary for becoming tech entrepreneurs and leaders. Every year, Technovation challenges 10 to 18 year-old girls to build business plans and mobile apps that solve problems in their respective communities.

Technovation Armenia is the national contest of Technovation, organized around the world. Technovation Armenia was initiated in Armenia in 2017 by the National Institute of Education of Armenia and Women and Information Society NGO.

In 2018, Technovation Armenia was organized within the frames of the Bridge4CSOs project, implemented by the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) in partnership with Eurasia Partnership Foundation (EPF) and funded by the European Union. Technovation Armenia 2018 competition is supported by the Union of Employers of Information and Communication Technologies, the UN Armenian Office, Synopsys Armenia, Unicomp, AUA, Enterprise Incubator Foundation, and Zigzag LLC.

“The Technovation Armenia community is getting bigger and the number of participants has doubled. This year we expanded our geography to include participants from all 11 provinces of Armenia; we already have more than 80 registered teams from different villages and cities of Armenia,” explains Narine Abazian (ME IESM ’96), President of Women and Information Society NGO, who is also the Regional Ambassador of Technovation Armenia program, as was mentioned in the opening remarks of the event.

AUA President Dr. Armen Der Kiureghian attended the event and gave the welcoming remarks, “AUA is committed to supporting female students interested in pursuing science and engineering fields. Indeed, that is the goal of our “Yes, Armenian Women Can!” campaign. We are very proud of our alumna Narine Abazyan, who started the Technovation program in Armenia, and the successes that her groups of young girls have achieved.”

The American University of Armenia was one of the first organizations to identity the significance of the IT field for the development of Armenia and for its female populations to stimulate their intellect and apply analytical acumen in order to make significant contributions in their respective workplaces.

With the launch of this new visionary initiative, “Yes, Armenian Women Can!” hundreds of women will be able to study computer science and engineering through the establishment of a $2.5 million endowed scholarship fund.

Throughout the afternoon, female entrepreneurs from EPIC startups made presentations sharing their personal experiences, challenges, and learning paths with the schoolgirls, and answered all the questions they raised.

Alisa Chalakhyan, the co-founder of She(FF), an EPIC startup, was one of the presenters at the event. Commenting on the event later, she states: “Standing there and talking to the youngsters that had similar or even bigger dreams than I once had while sitting in the same auditorium years ago made me wonder how I can be of help to them on their way of realizing their dreams. It is crucially important to ensure that girls are reminded of their abilities and skills from the very young age. That is why my friend [and co-founder] Anahit and I have decided to start conducting workshops to boost female entrepreneurship.”

She(FF) is an online network connecting women with diverse talents and crafts with people who value the art of homemade and handmade unique products. She(FF) is a platform created by women for women.

Technovation Armenia 2018 judges Gayane Stepanyan, Director of Digital banks in Ararat Bank, and Ani Manukyan, Project Manager of Women and Information Society NGO, shared their impressions of Technovation Armenia 2018 competition with the participants and made recommendations for 2019 teams on how to make their applications more functional and applicable locally and globally.

The wrap up of the event was dedicated to the success stories of Technovation program schoolgirls. Among the speakers were the 2017 international winner team mentor Vardanush Hovhannisyan and Regional winner team mentor Ani Sirekanyan.

Another presenter, Tereza Tumanyan (age 15, Ashtarak), who is also a student ambassador of the Technovation Armenia program, presented the success story of her team Codice Peullis that was one of the semi finalists and was nominated as a winner in the Sevan Startup Summit 2018 and received $3,000 to further develop the app 1 Of U created for children with autism. The team also was a European Youth Award finalist with its app.

The Entrepreneurship and Product Innovation Center (EPIC) is a platform for promoting entrepreneurial education, cross-disciplinary collaboration, and startup venture incubation. EPIC provides an ecosystem for the American University of Armenia’s (AUA) emerging entrepreneurs consisting of first-class facilities and collaborative workspace, programs and events, and a network of mentors, advisors and investors. EPIC fosters the understanding and application of entrepreneurship with students and faculty at AUA to craft high-impact multidisciplinary ventures.

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