A Fish Full of Dollars

Two years ago, Armen took out a loan of $1,625 for his business and since he has just repaid his final installment last month, I decided to pay him a visit to hear about his experience using Kiva.

Armen is a fishmonger in Yerevan where he sells trout and sturgeon from the freshwaters of Armenia’s many beautiful rivers and lakes. Armen is an incredibly hard working man and adds real value to his business by preparing delicious fish dinners for take away. Khorovats is the national dish of Armenia and involves barbecuing fish or meats on skewers, served with potatoes, aubergines and sweet peppers and gift-wrapped in a soft flatbread known as lavash.

When I arrived, Armen was applying the finishing touches to a customer order.

Fish is becoming increasingly popular among a more health conscience society and at half the price of the traditional pork khorovats, it represents good value for Armen’s customers. However, I would be misleading you if I was to suggest it all came down to social and economic trends. Armen’s culinary craft is exceptional and through word of mouth alone he has built up a loyal following of customers.

Thanks to Kiva’s lenders, Armen was able to buy enough fish and cover his expenses to keep up with the growing demand. Recently, he has been receiving orders from larger customers such as the local university and hospital and during my visit, a TV company called to place an order for its fifty employees!

On hearing this, I thought I should let Armen get back to work but instead he asked me to stay and try his fabled barbecued fish. Such hospitality is typical of the warm Armenian culture and highlights Armen’s dedication to his trade.

Following his experience with Kiva, Armen looks positively towards the future with plans to invest in refrigerating equipment so he can start selling frozen fish to new customers and better manage the obvious risks when selling such a perishable product. On behalf of Armen and our microfinance partner Nor Horizon, Kiva wants to thank all its lenders for giving Armen the opportunity to expand his business and improve his livelihood.

To continue this mission of empowering people through lending, why not take a look at some other loans that are currently fundraising in Armenia with Nor Horizon. And of course, everybody is welcome to join the Armenia Lending Team.

Myself, Armen and Ruben, a Loan Officer from Nor Horizon, one of Kiva’s awesome Field Partners working with us in Armenia.

About the author

Mark McDonagh

Born and raised in Dublin city, Mark caught the explorer’s bug as early as eight years old when he made his first trip abroad without his parents - a cub scout's trip to the Isle of Man! While studying business with a Master’s degree in Finance, Mark’s university years took him to Italy and the Netherlands where he soon realised his passion for working with people from different cultures. After graduation, he joined HSBC which gave him the opportunity to work abroad in places such as Malaysia, Canada and Poland before coming back to Ireland in a role managing corporate lending relationships. However, a recent vacation to Sierra Leone opened his eyes to microfinance and its importance as a tool for development. Mark has been eager to learn more ever since and is really looking forward to working with Kiva in Armenia.