Irina Mkrtchyan, Co-founder of Innovative Solutions for Sustainable Development of Communities (ISSD), Armenia and 2021 WE Empower finalist, Middle East and North Africa
Irina Mkrtchyan had a difficult upbringing being raised by a single mother in 90’s Armenia and great grandparents who had survived the Armenian Genocide in the early 20th century. After having experienced both sexual and gender harassment, she gained empowerment from the fact that, in her words, “you need to fight for everything in your life.” Along with this empowerment, Mkrtchyan felt an obligation to give back to her home country and empower other women and girls to stand up for their rights, start careers within male-dominant industries, and never give up on their dreams of aiding Armenia in reaching the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). Mkrtchyan did this through creating Innovative Solutions for Sustainable Development of Communities (ISSD).
Recycle it! A powerful waste recycling initiative
ISSD runs innovative projects focused on sustainability within various industries such as waste management. ISSD uses the Recycle it! initiative to amplify public awareness about waste recycling by creating a waste sorting and recycling culture throughout Armenia. This approach allows for a decrease in the amount of waste in landfills, gas emissions, water and soil pollution, and damage to diversity and human health. With its ongoing success, ISSD has already recycled 268.5 tons of recyclable materials and aids in the advancement of UN SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production.
Green up or clean up
ISSD also innovates through efforts such as the creation of a synthetic fiber that is spun into yarn and implemented into fashion and home accessories markets through the re-emerging textile industry. By doing so, they have helped over 300,000 stakeholders “green up or clean up” Armenia’s environment. ISSD initiatives support UN SDG 13: Climate Action and UN SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure by organizing public awareness campaigns and focusing on the reuse of materials.
Mkrtchyan proudly explains that ISSD uses innovative technology to, “solve the waste problem by converting appropriate materials into an in-demand product that creates new jobs as well as supports existing ones in Armenia’s textile industry.” The diligent work done by Mkrtchyan and ISSD has an important environmental impact by reducing annual CO2 emissions by approximately 360 tons.
Learn more about Mkrtchyan and Innovative Solutions for Sustainable Development of Communities (ISSD).
The WE Empower UN SDG Challenge is a first-of-its-kind global competition for women entrepreneurs who are pushing the UN Sustainable Development Goals and leading innovation in sustainability and climate change through their businesses. This Contributing Series highlights finalists of the Challenge whose work demonstrates how business models and social entrepreneurship can drive global impact.