We had the pleasure of sitting down with Mikaël Donikian, the director of DONOS Conseil and one of VIA Fund’s earliest investors and supporters. Mikaël brings a wealth of experience and a strong passion for impact investing to the table.
In this interview, we delve into his journey into the world of impact investing, his reasons for getting involved in Armenia, his decision to partner with VIA Fund, and his vision for the future of impact investing and social entrepreneurship in the country. Join us as we explore Mikaël’s insights and learn from his valuable perspective on driving positive change through strategic investments.
- When did you become interested in impact investing and why?
I knew nothing about impact investing, and one day out of the blue Nazareth [Seferian from EVPA] contacted me and spoke to me about it and invited me to Vienna to Impact Days, an event organized by the EVPA. This is how I was thrown into the deep end of impact investment,
- Why it is important to you to be involved in impact investing in Armenia?
I’ve been involved since 2022. I started some actions myself, mainly charities where I am helping communities in Lori, and I wanted to find other ways to help the community in more impactful and bigger ways.
- Why did you choose to partner with VIA Fund?
Because of the trust that I had in the team, and the approach. It’s not easy to invest money in a country that you barely know (even though I’ve been traveling to Armenia a lot) with all the stories from the past and the people from the diaspora losing their money through investing in Armenia, but the team managed to build trust, and this is what really drove me to invest.
- How do you see the future of impact investing and social entrepreneurship evolving in Armenia, and what role do you envision for the VIA Fund in this evolution?
It’s just the beginning and it’s going to grow bigger because around the world, young entrepreneurs will find more sense and engagement in investing in impact funds. But also, it is bringing new opportunities for investing in Armenia rather than giving money away as donations to organizations, and not knowing what is actually being done with the money. It’s a game-changer.
- What kind of expectations do you have for our cooperation?
I would love to be more active and involved in spreading the word and finding more investors but also to be part of the jury to select projects and our project leaders with the experience that I have in entrepreneurship. So it’s not only helping with funding but also helping to guide them and sharing my experience with them.
- How has your partnership with VIA Fund impacted your own organization and/or your personal beliefs and values?
Today it’s a legitimate way to grow bigger into giving back to communities. This is what we at DONOS want to do. We created our offices in Yerevan in 2019 and we also wanted to give to our community and empower them, and this is a way to do it. We already have been funding different Armenian projects in France and in Armenia, but more than that we are sure now that we want to create a foundation, the Donos Foundation, to have part of our budget invested in such actions investing in Impact fund.
- What advice would you give to other organizations or individuals who are interested in investing in social enterprises in Armenia, or who are considering partnering with VIA Fund specifically?
Get informed about impact funds and investing, because I didn’t know anything about it, and learning more and more, I understand now that it’s not because you are investing in social enterprises that you won’t have a return on investment. Social enterprises are driven by the missions that they have rather than the capital and monetary value that they will raise to be able to resell the company, so it’s a more sustainable investment. Financial returns may be less but the long-term impact will be more.