Behind the scenes

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development call on all countries to, among other things, advance the welfare of societies, economies and the environment. Science, technology and innovation were identified as key means of implementation for the 2030 Agenda. While donor and philanthropic funds add up to billions of dollars, the cost of solving the world’s most critical problems runs into the trillions, with an estimated $2.5 trillion annual funding gap to achieve the SDGs in developing countries. To close the gap, it is imperative to develop and implement innovations that can attract national resources and private capital towards development objectives. A new generation of financing mechanisms is needed to achieve the SDGs. Impact investment and social entrepreneurship represent an important framework for a new range of tools aimed at leveraging private investment for public good. Armenia is a perfect laboratory and testing ground for an overt and strategic collaboration between international development organizations and impact investors and social entrepreneurs. Armenia’s economy has been considerably supported by institutional donors and Armenian diaspora (both individual philanthropists, and mid/low-income one providing private transfers) which are looking for innovative and more effective approaches for creating social good.

How we do it

In 2017, an important step was made towards the creation of impact venture culture, the first IID summit organized by the UNDP. The summit was a collaborative dialogue that brought together a wide range of impact business leaders, social venture philanthropists, United Nations officials and other development practitioners. Also present were social entrepreneurs, philanthropic organizations, government representatives and academic leaders. The summit brought together key stakeholders from the growing impact investment ecosystem in order to create new models of collaboration between investors, ventures, governments and international development organizations. Yet another milestone followed the summit, the founding of the SDG Innovation Lab supported by the Government of RA. ImpactAIM Venture Accelerator is a key component of this process, an accelerator to support the startups helping bridge these gaps in achieving SDGs. As an independent platform ImpactAim Accelerator brings together the private sector and development agencies to exit solutions and startups that both: are targeting the development of a specific sector (agriculture, climate, Education, Food, etc.) and have a sustainable business model that can be further scaled. ImpactAim serves as (a) a viable platform bringing together the existing knowledge and capacity of Armenian tech and business communities, leveraging collective expertise for systemic change (b) assures the quality of solutions as well as their consistence with the global country development priorities c) facilitates new markets for startups/solutions and new investment possibilities.

The Team

 

Ruzanna Safaryan

UNDP ImpactAim Venture Accelerator Lead

Over 10 years of project management expertise in tech ecosystem, leading expert in ICT education programs working with universities on the integration of new technologies in their academic curriculum and research programs through development projects of EIF, Microsoft and IBM Innovative Solutions and Technologies Center (ISTC). Over 2000 students trained, and 30 tech startups mentored. Master’s Degree in Operational Management and Finance at Universite Jean Moulin Lyon 3, France.

Artak Melkonyan

Chief Operations Officer, UNSIF, UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub

Artak has  24-year track record of exposure to businesses and non-profit projects  in over 35 countries. Has served as Senior Advisor in UNDP Armenia, while prior to that he was CEO of  RVVZ / IDEA Foundation and led innovative venture philanthropy  projects in tourism, education, regional development. Before that Artak was Senior VP with Dun & Bradstreet SAME and led strategic expansion of the company’s financial infrastructure business to emerging markets in Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia. His previous experience includes senior management roles in private equity fund, Big4, banking, financial service companies, top government and international organizations. 

 

 

Vahagn Voskanyan

Impact Investment Adviser at UNDP Armenia

Vahagn is a senior investment manager with 20 years of experience in project finance, corporate lending and investment consulting.  Prior to joining UNDP as Impact Investment Advisor, Vahagn worked in a private equity fund as an investment manager, in international and local banks as a senior project finance manager, branch manager and head of corporate lending. Vahagn is currently teaching Startup Management in American University of Armenia and Entrepreneurship in Texas AM University MS program in ICARE foundation.  

 

 

Tatevik Koloyan

Environmental Programme Officer, UNDP Armenia

Tatevik is a multilingual professional with 12 years’ experience in international development assistance, focusing on environmental policy making and programme implementation since 2013. She supports management and development of projects on energy efficiency, climate change adaptation and mitigation, natural resources management, waste management and disaster risk reduction.