La Salle’s John and Michael Baghdassarian ’23 Embarks on a Journey to Armenia to Set Up Micro Lending Business

Meet John and Michael Baghdassarian, 17-year-old twin brothers of La Salle College Prep, who embarked on a journey to Armenia to see if they could engage villagers in an idea they had.

They wanted to see if microlending, which has been successful in other parts of the developing world, would work in Armenia. They reached out to the Children of Armenia Fund (COAF), which has deep roots in the Lori Province. Through multiple exchanges, including Zoom calls, the boys thought they had a plan.

It wasn’t until they spent a good amount of time living in the picturesque village of Debet that they realized they needed to fine-tune their idea and come up with “micro solutions.” Whereas a traditional loan may look at the financial return, the boys wanted to see if they could generate buzz in the village. During the month-long stay in Armenia, the twins, with the help of the COAF staff, visited cheese-making facilities, bee farms, and other local businesses.

They encountered the challenges of harsh road conditions, which have disconnected communities and distribution of goods. Ultimately, they found locals that were great candidates and who could use the funds to start a beekeeping business.

The sale of their high-quality honey would be able to pay the funds, which would perpetually be used for other similar projects. Beyond what a bank would do, the boys plan to continue working with the recipients and COAF’s Shushan Danielyan and Anahit Hakobyan on branding, marketing, and distribution of the honey.

Shant Kel Khatcherian is connected with Zartonk Institute Inc. – Zartonk Institute Inc. is a 501(c)(3) is nonprofit charitable organization based in Pasadena, CA, with an IRS ruling year of 2015, and donations are tax-deductible. Zartonk, Institute Inc. is located at 1378 N. Oxford Ave., Pasadena, CA 91104. To Donate, go to

La Salle College Preparatory, 3880 E. Sierra Madre Blvd., Pasadena, (626) 351-8951 or visit





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