Gnel Nazanyan, Armenia

Client of ACBA-Credit Agricole bank, an IFC partner that provides banking services and advice to smaller businesses.

A business is like a child – you need to love it. If you don’t love it, you won’t be successful. I turned my hobby into business. But we soon discovered that “love” alone isn’t enough--business knowledge is crucial. The herbs growing in Armenia’s highlands are famous for their taste and health benefits. I started by collecting some of them, like thyme, mint, and oregano, with my own hands. In 2014, I registered my company and started producing herbal teas with the brand name Darman, which in Armenian means “cure.”

I am a lawyer by education and my wife is a biologist, so we realized that neither of us had the business knowledge we needed to make the business profitable.In early 2016, I received an offer from ACBA-Credit Agricole bank for business training—just in time and also totally free of charge. Through this, I learned how to manage my cash flow, enhance working capital, control costs, and how to present and market my product to customers, which I think is as important as the production process itself.

The training has played a key role in our company's growth. In just one year, we managed to increase our income by around 50-60 percent, and double our number of staff. We now plan to employ another 40 to 50 people by this summer. All our employees are from rural areas, where employment opportunities are scarce and poverty is high, so the business is a key source of income not only for us, but also for them.

We’ve also been checking demand in foreign markets—at the moment, we’re selling small quantities of our product in France and the USA. However, we recently signed a contract with a Russian company to start exporting our products to Moscow. Our goal for the next five years is to achieve rapid growth and expand our production volume five-fold, if possible. We used to be afraid of taking bank loans. Thanks to the business knowledge we gained from our training, we now understand the benefits and can evaluate and manage risks much better. We plan to apply for a loan, if our own capital isn’t enough, as part of our plans to expand the business.

ACBA-Credit Agricole bank’s trainings have provided us with critical business thinking, which, in certain cases is the most valuable asset. That’s been the key to making our business a success.