The goal of the “Markets for Meghri” (M4M) project is to contribute to the poverty alleviation in urban and rural communities of Meghriregion through improvement of the targeted horticulture value chains market operations (improvement of commercial linkages, access to knowledge, services, finance etc.). Many development constraints in the region are linked to limited access to financial services due to limited knowledge of terms and conditions of available loan products in Meghriregion and low level of financial and business literacy by the players of horticulture value chains.
On the other hand, according to the preliminary survey conducted by the M4M experts, financial institutions also lack the secondary information about the horticulture market capacity, growth potential, and economic sustainability of Meghri region. Thus in order to understand the specific characteristics of the region as well as to continuously ensure the appropriateness of the project’s interventions, “Markets for Meghri” staff in the framework of “Financial Markets Development” component and in cooperation with “AM Partners Consulting” conducted the evaluation of the financial market of Meghri region, its constraints and potential. Assessment of the financial market situation in Meghri region resulted in a number of findings and interesting facts that gave good ground for making conclusions and recommendations.
On April 11, 2014, M4M staff in cooperation with “AM Partners Consulting” organized an event during which all these findings, facts, conclusions and recommendations were presented to main players of the Armenian financial market, e.g. banks, universal credit organizations, representatives of RA Government and international funds. As a result of the event, currently M4M staff is in the contracting stage of cooperation with a number of financial and business development services providers, which have expressed their readiness and willingness to penetrate the financial market of the region, despite the fact that they have never considered Meghri as a convenient region to work in.
Generally, in the framework M4M project’s “Development of Financial Markets of Meghri” component, 2013 has witnessed a number of activities, such as:
• encouraging agricultural investments, attracting new financial institutions to Meghriregion, in particular, assisting “Small and Medium Entrepreneurship Development National Center of Armenia”, “Financial System Mediator Foundation” in initiating their activities in Meghri; promotion of new credit organizations (“Card AgroCredit” UCO and CONVERSE BANK);
• introduction and promotion of three new types of loans on concessional terms for the development of agribusiness in Meghri region (“Jinishian Memorial Foundation” group, individual and loans provided to small and medium entrepreneurs, “MCA Water to Market Loans” targeted at establishing new agricultural technologies, new orchards, refrigeration systems, greenhouses and other measures undertaken for agribusiness development and leasing). It is worth to mention that all these types of loans were obtained and invested in different value chains promoted by M4M project, such as: promotion of new crops and varieties; establishment of new input supply shop in the region; fruit drying and processing (in particular agricultural equipment were bought via leasing).