Breakfast Bonding in Yerevan

Hot coffee, tea, crispy bread, a variety of local cheeses. Different types of jams, an omelette, some colourful fruits and vegetables. A typical breakfast in Armenia leaves you with plenty of sweet and savoury options. Alternatively, you could consider having Impact for Breakfast. In fact, that is exactly what Impact Hub Yerevan, our Armenian partners in the EU-funded market building project Collaborate For Impact, did recently.

Tom Dinneweth |
Breakfast Bonding in Yerevan

On May 15th, Impact Hub Yerevan joined hands with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to organize a special edition of the globally recognized Impact for Breakfast format. The goal of these meetings is to create a safe space for key ecosystem players to interact and to discuss possible collaborations and projects in an informal atmosphere. The overarching theme of this breakfast gathering was "Catalyzing Change: Impact Investing for Socioeconomic Development”.

In addition to Impact Hub Yerevan and the EBRD, the gathering was attended by 30 leaders from family offices, foundations, venture philanthropy, impact funds, advisory firms, and intermediary organisations. In short, a diverse set of impact people.

As the participants sipped from their coffees and enjoyed their pastries, they could listen to well-crafted contributions of Nazareth Seferian from Impact Europe, Alla Pavlova, Advisor to C-QUADRAT Ampega Social Fund, and Raghavan Narayanan, Associate Director, EBRD Impact Team. Gevorg Poghosyan, CEO of Impact Hub Yerevan, moderated the discussion.

After this panel discussion, a lively conversation quickly ensued, as attendees explored the impact investing spectrum, the different characteristics of intentionality, additionality, and measurability, as well as the socioeconomic benefits impact investing can unlock in developing economies.

The virtue of being compatible

Raghavan Narayanan, Associate Director of EBRD’s Impact Team, took the opportunity to stress the compatibility of traditional finance and the work of impact actors, such as foundations and impact funds. “Traditional finance and foundation actors were perceived as polar opposites for many decades: the former was perceived as cutthroat and money-making while the latter was perceived as communal and as giving money away,” he explained.

Narayanan immediately added that “this formulation is outdated in today’s context, as the two cultures slowly blend with each other. Finance is embracing impact and ESG principles while foundations and philanthropic actors embrace rigorous risk management and efficiency.”

His message was above all one of collaboration: “The injection of moral and ethical purpose into investing activity, and corporate governance principles into philanthropic activity all point to a clear direction: potential for scale and scope for the industry if we collaborate.”

A positive example of the potential Narayanan is talking about can be found in Impact Hub Yerevan’s own VIA Fund, which was established within the framework of the European Union’s regional project “Collaborate for Impact,” implemented by Impact Europe (formerly EVPA) in the Eastern Partnership countries. It’s the first impact investment fund for social enterprises in Armenia, and it has been steadily building a portfolio of social enterprises. Through targeted mentoring, incubator and accelerator programs and various other support offerings, VIA Fund aims to demonstrate the unique potential of their approach, and to build a model that can be replicated with new investments and new social enterprises over the years to come. Moreover, the VIA Fund has also shown great agility in responding to the humanitarian crisis in the region following the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Meetings like the Impact for Breakfast occupy a crucial position in aligning possible investors with their investees and the projecs they run. Furthermore, they present an opportunity to showcase the unique catalysing potential of each impact investment.

Gevorg Poghosyan, CEO of Impact Hub Yerevan, described impact investing as the act of “bridging two distinct realms: the world of lasting impact and the world of finance”. As such, he sees it as an excellent and innovative tool to “harness the power to amplify life-changing opportunities”. According to Poghosyan, it’s precisely this synergy that inspires the VIA Fund in its commitment to social entrepreneurship as a route towards impactful and sustainable change.

Raghavan Narayanan concluded the breakfast with a wish for the future. “My wish for 2030 and beyond is to progress not only in investment structures of a project but more innovative structures of the investee level and more interestingly, innovative structures of the investors themselves, especially the foundations and philanthropy sector; again, reflecting the rapid cultural change in the industry, driven by demand for delivering impact together.”

It's a wish we at Impact Europe share, and will continue to support through our market building efforts. 

A nice turnout for the Impact for Breakfast in Yerevan.


From left to right: Nazareth Seferian (Impact Europe), Raghavan Narayanan (EBRD Impact Team), Alla Pavlova (C-QUADRAT Ampega Social Fund) and Gevorg Poghosyan (Impact Hub Yerevan)