Meet the Market Facilitator: Irena Balayan, WV Armenia

  • IMG_20150218_142250
    Value chain discussions
  • Irena MF (2)
    Market Facilitator Irena with the raspberry crop
  • THe Ashotavan PG and MF  (Raspberry VC)
    The Ashotavan Producer Group with Market Facilitator Irena
  • Raspberry - one of Armenian LVCD product in Sisian ADP area
    Ashotavan Produce - perfect raspberries

Today’s post is the first in a series of posts where you will get the chance to ‘meet’ our Market Facilitators from all over the world.   We’re introducing Irena Balayan from World Vision Armenia.  Irena works as a Market Facilitator and supports producer groups in the Sisian region of Armenia who are currently producing raspberries.

1. How long have you been working as a LVCD Market Facilitator?

It’s already 14 months that I have started working in WV Armenia. I was hired in May 2014, as a LVCD Market Facilitator.
2. Can you tell us a little about the place where you work and the people you work with?
I work in Sisian area, which is the sunniest, but the coldest place in Armenia. Local people are modest, naïve and hospitable. They have strong faith in Jesus, but they have lost their faith in their own ability and success.
3. What do you like best about being a Market Facilitator?
In this job, I like the feeling of being a good relationship builder, when I am able to work with a range of people, understand their different needs and positions, and help the different actors to see how by working with each other, they can form lasting mutually beneficial relationships.
4. What do you find to be the most challenging part of the role?
At first it was very difficult when the local farmers did not want to understand my role and it was very difficult to communicate with them as a Market Facilitator. In their eyes I was the first person from World Vision who didn’t give them anything materially and that was what they were waiting for from me. The second challenge for me is a loss of my personal life and goals living with Producers Group purposes, difficulties and successes making them also mine.
5. What is your proudest achievement as a Market Facilitator?
It makes me proud when all the farmers, with whom I have worked, are always happy to see me and they greet me like their family member. It makes me proud when the producer group members call me and ask to visit them, as they have an issue and they want to discuss it with me. It makes me proud when they require to organize different trainings, experience exchanges and meetings with market actors, while in the past they believe their success only by supporting them with assets/handouts. And finally, it makes me proud when they have any success such as fundraising for their investments, sales of new products that they haven’t sold before, increase of raspberry volumes, by using new cultivation methods, and increase of product prices by finding new markets and keeping a price determined by all the community. I feel great for the progress I have made in Ashotavan community.
6. What do you think makes a good Market Facilitator?
A Market Facilitator is constantly giving and receiving information and so she must be a strong communicator and relationship builder to develop good working relationships that will stimulate new market activity.
7. What advice do you have for other WV staff who are just starting an LVCD project?
I just advise them to be in touch with each other, share their failures almost as much as their successes, as its very important for passing the further way more effectively
8. What is the most significant change you have seen in an LVCD project?
For me the most significant change is the restoration of farmer’s faith in their own ability and success, that they had lost before LVCD project.
9.What do you think is the main reason why LVCD has been effective?
The effectiveness of LVCD is to try achieve the goal by working together in a group, not alone. Teamwork makes you feel stronger with your opportunities in different parts of value chain, gives you an opportunity of experience exchange between group members, an opportunity of contributing your own ideas effectively, taking a share of the responsibility and being assertive, makes easier to solve any problem and finally it gives you sustainable relationships with sustainable income.
If you’d like to find out more about World Vision’s value chain work in Armenia, please contact Irena Balayan or Husik Sargsyan 

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