Anush Aslanyan and Marinka Vovk are two social entrepreneurs connected through the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs programme. Anush is from Armenia and started her sewing and printing business "EREOstyle" in 2019 to provide jobs for people with disabilities. As a new entrepreneur who has mainly worked in the NGO sector in the past, she was excited by the prospect of exchanging practical experience with an established entrepreneur in another country. Anush saw the exchange as a unique opportunity to make contacts, reach new customers and increase awareness of her brand. Although it took some time to find the perfect match, she got in touch with host entrepreneur Marinka Vovk from Slovenia, the owner of "Center Ponovne Uporabe", a reuse centre for vulnerable people. Marinka was looking for fresh ideas to improve her business operations, knowledge about the social and circular economy in other countries, and long-term partnerships. They connected immediately and started actively planning the exchange activities.
As Anush has a disability, she always thought she would have difficulty participating in an exchange, but Marinka supported her every step of the way. Anush familiarised herself with the company's work processes and functions, and visited the sites in Ljubljana, Rogaška, Slatina, Vojnik Slovenske Konjice, and Ormož. She gained a comprehensive overview of the products offered, including how they are selected and prepared for reuse and sale in the CPU green stores. She conducted a survey of customers that revealed valuable information on demographics and buying behaviour. With Marinka's guidance, Anush improved her understanding of the social entrepreneurship model and the legal environment in Slovenia and identified best practices to take home. She expanded Marinka's network by organising meetings with key stakeholders in Armenia, such as the Association of Social Enterprises Academy of Social Enterprises and two social enterprises.
Both entrepreneurs are very satisfied with the outcomes of the exchange and intend to engage in business cooperation in the future. An agreement has been reached between Marinka's social enterprise and the Academy of Social Enterprises of Armenia for cooperation thanks to Anush's contribution. Thanks to Marinka, Anush had the opportunity to contact the leaders of the Social Firms Europe CEFEC network for joining the network as a member. Marinka is also planning to establish a social enterprise academy in the town of Vojnik in Slovenia, further contributing to the development of the sector and international exchange of practices between Armenia and Slovenia.
For more information, please contact the local contact points involved in the exchange:
New entrepreneur's contact point:Jinishian Memorial Foundation
(Yerevan) Host entrepreneur's contact point:University of Primorska
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