Sara, Tigran, Melani
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AUA Students Take Part in Ameriabank’s “Be the Change” Competition

2 min read

YEREVAN, Armenia — Three freshmen from the American University of Armenia (AUA) BA in Business (BAB) program recently took part in the Be the Change competition organized by Ameriabank. The competition aimed to motivate students from all over Armenia to develop their innovative start-up ideas that would benefit society and solve crucial problems. In the initial stage, the participating student teams were asked to fill out the application form, providing information about their business plans, then in the next stage they presented their business plans in greater detail to the selection committee. 

Sara Aleksanyan (BAB ‘25), Melani Tadevosyan (BAB ‘25), and Tigran Avetisyan (BAB ‘25) come from the city of Kapan. Learning about the competition, they decided to write a business plan and participate. “We love Kapan so much that we wanted to come up with a business plan that would be beneficial for our city,” Melani notes. “Yes, that’s what initially brought us together,” Sara adds. Waste paper recycling is something that Kapan lacks, the team explains. “While Kapan residents are encouraged to recycle plastic, there’s no paper recycling. So we decided to create a small paper-recycling plant to produce paper napkins from recycled waste paper,” Tigran explains.

Ten teams reached the final stage of the competition, each presenting their innovative ideas to the jury. The winning team received a prize of three million AMD (~$6,000), while the runners-up, including the AUA team received a consolation prize of 100,000 AMD. As the students note, while this sum is not enough to kick off their business, it is still a good initial investment for their startup and an excellent motivator. “Though we didn’t win, we had a wonderful opportunity to meet many professionals from the business sector, people who are ready to support the youths in their undertakings, which, I think, is also very stimulating,” remarks Sara. 

The students highlight the role that the AUA BAB program played in their success. “Dr. Michael Kouchakdjian’s Introduction to Business course was very helpful. Other courses that we have taken at AUA, such as Microeconomics by Dr. Gayane Barseghyan, also helped us develop our business idea and make our presentation. Thanks to the knowledge and skills gained through our classes, we were familiar with all the steps necessary for planning a business. At the competition, we were required to do the exact same things as we have done for our classes: presentation, pitching, creating a business model,” elaborates Tigran. “Actually, we noticed apparent differences between us and the other teams; definitely, there were many aspects for which we were better prepared,” Sara adds. 

Speaking of their future plans, the students expressed eagerness to gain more knowledge and come up with an updated version of their initial business idea. “We are thinking of getting into other projects and to find investors to realize our business plan. We are also planning to apply to the Strive program developed by the Entrepreneurship and Product Innovation Center at AUA (EPIC). Through the Strive lectures, meetups, and workshops, we would have a great opportunity to learn more about entrepreneurship and move forward with implementing our business idea,” Sara concludes.

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, affiliated with the University of California, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States. AUA provides local and international students with Western-style education through top-quality undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values.