Widowed by War: Lana Kochinyan’s Empowerment through AUA

 Lana Kochinyan with her daughters

In 2022, the American University of Armenia’s (AUA) Sarkis Cabayan Small & Emerging Business Development Program in Armenian Provinces With Scholarships for Women was launched to help empower women entrepreneurs from the regions of Armenia. 

In its first round, the Program admitted women from Armenia’s northern regions, Shirak, Lori, and Tavush, with the second round open to women from across the regions of Armenia and Artsakh. The competitive selection process included submitting an application, taking an English language test, and interviewing before a three-person panel responsible for assessing the applicant’s level of involvement in the business and her entrepreneurial inclinations.

Lana Kochinyan was among the applicants who began taking the English level 2 classes. Originally from Stepanakert, Lana now lives in Vanadzor, where, despite the devastating loss of her husband during the 2020 Artsakh War, she refused to let the tragedy define her life. Instead, she seized the opportunity presented to her by AUA to create a new path forward for herself as an entrepreneur.

Back in Stepanakert is where Lana had met her late husband, Davit Kochinyan, who was a major in the Artsakh army. In 2016, they married and grew their family with two beloved young girls.

Davit & Lana Kochinyan

In 2018, the family moved to Jabrayil, where Davit was serving as a military unit commander. Two years later, in 2020, Davit was moved to the peacekeeper’s division. When the 2020 Artsakh War broke out, he had been preparing to take part in training abroad, but he was not able to participate. Instead, he arrived at the frontlines of the war on October 12. Tragically, shortly after, on October 21, he fell fighting in the Hadrut region of Artsakh. 

After the Azeri side took control of the Hadrut region, Kochinyan’s family underwent a difficult time trying to locate his body for proper burial. Only in December were they able to lay him to rest. He was buried in his hometown of Vanadzor, where Lana moved with her mother and two daughters in order to be closer to her husband.

Lana Kochinyan with her daughters and late husband Davit

Finding herself as the only provider for her family, she had to consider how she was going to be able to raise her daughters. Despite her background as a psychologist, finding work in her field proved to be difficult and scarce. During her time in Jabrayil, Lana had started taking sewing orders which had proven to be a success. Thus, she set out to start her own sewing business.  

Through a support program offered to families of fallen soldiers, she began taking sewing and modeling classes. In 2021, she established Taguhis, meaning “my queen” in Armenian — this is how Davit used to refer to their daughters. 

Lana began by making custom children’s clothing, and later, by growing demand, she began to make dresses for adults. Currently, she has several employees and is in development to expand her business. Taking orders from existing establishments, she has also started a new line of sportswear for both children and adults. “In order to reach stability and be able to expand, I need more equipment to secure stable cash flow,” she says as she explains how determined she is to undergo training through the Sarkis Cabayan Small & Emerging Business Development Program in Armenian Provinces With Scholarships for Women. 

Lana’s success is the reflection of her determination and perseverance in her path. Her story serves as an inspiration to others: through her hard work and dedication, she has shown that even in the darkest of times, there is always a way to find hope. 

The Program looks forward to continuing to support innovators, creators, risk takers, and business-minded women across Armenia. 

For more information about the Program, visit: