Marseille celebrates the French-Armenian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Photo copyright A. Bordier and CCIFA

On January 14, Armen Mnatzakanyan and his entire team are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the French-Armenian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Leading figures such as Rodolphe Saadé, the emblematic head of CMA-CGM, and Geneviève Melkonian, director of Aramine, will be present. On this anniversary, light will shine on entrepreneurship, youth and, above all, French-Armenian friendship. On the other hand, there will be a shadow: the shadow that hangs over Artsakh, which has been under the blockade of Armenia and Azerbaijan for a month. Interview of the President Armen Mnatzakanian.

Mr. President, the event you are organizing to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the French-Armenian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is only a few days away, so before I talk about it, please introduce yourself. Who are you ? Are you an entrepreneur?

Armen Mnatzakanian : First of all, I am very happy and proud to be elected the new president of this chamber, which has been celebrating its 30th anniversary for 1 year.c birthday, this Saturday, January 14th. I was born in Iran and came to France in 1982. I am 53 years old. I have two wonderful children, a double French-Armenian culture… They are 100% French and 100% Armenian. Thanks to my parents, I was able to get my higher education in engineering in the field of software engineering. Very quickly, after that I was able to integrate large companies (such as LCL bank, CPR bank, TF1 group and Cap Gemini). In 2003, I had the chance to open my own company, Web-ISI. The peculiarity of this company was that it had a highly qualified team in Armenia for the entire IT development part. I can say that we have been quite advanced in this field…

Today you live between France and Armenia. How is Armenia? It seems to me that Artsakh has been living under the blockade of Azerbaijan since December 12 of last year, while a part of Armenia was occupied within its eastern borders.

I have decided to live in Armenia since last September for several reasons. I wanted to share my experience with some dynamic young people of Armenia. I really invest myself in bringing my little gem to youth and entrepreneurship in Armenia. I have a chance to share my thoughts and knowledge about the French market. How is Armenia? To give a more precise answer to your question, I will say that Armenia continues to experience extremely aggressive and difficult times. But he is brave and his resilience is quite remarkable. This power of presence, comeback and survival is everywhere in youth. In the face of aggression, threats, and in these difficult days when suffering is real, Armenia demonstrates once again that no force can destroy our culture, history, heritage, Christian religion and people. traditions. ancestor. Armenia has more than 3000 years of history.

Now let’s talk about CCIFA. It is important to have an Armenian community in Marseille. There are also many entrepreneurs. Who are they, who are the members of CCIFA and what are your main activities?

CCIFA was born in 1901 as an Act of Union in 1993. By decree, we are authorized to use the term “French-Armenian Chamber of Commerce and Industry”. For 30 years, CCIFA has been able to establish itself as a major player with its very strong reputation and presence in Marseille, where the Armenian economic structure is very active. The board of directors includes about 30 high-profile individuals, including former presidents emeritus and business leaders. We are surrounded by more than 400 renowned members in several sectors of activity (law, real estate, engineering, industry, agri-food, tourism, etc.). CCIFA is simply a business accelerator between two countries, France and Armenia.

Already 30 years old! Together with your team, you celebrate this very important event this Saturday, January 14. Tell us about the program. Will there be good people?

It is difficult to summarize the stories of 30 years. But for its 30th anniversary, CCIFA saw BIG, bringing together all the power and dynamism of its board of directors. The friendship between France and Armenia is ancient, rooted and very deep. It is up to us to extend this to all areas of economic and social life. It is for this reason that we have implemented a number of measures to offer a new direct flight between Marseille and Yerevan. After 10 years of persistent, relentless work supported by local or regional authority leaders, the job is done! A great gift for our 30th anniversary!

CCIFA is proud of the crucial role it played in the success of this operation. This wonderful project, always supported by the international relations of the city of Marseille, the airport, and especially the mayor of Yerevan, has finally succeeded.

During our gala dinner, we will have the pleasure of welcoming Transavia’s top executives. We are pleased to announce that the first flight TO 7458 of this weekly service operated by Transavia, a subsidiary of Air France, will depart from Marseille Provence Airport on Tuesday 27 June 2023 at 10:10. This line will be a key asset for improving the exchanges essential for the smooth development of these relations. We will be effective relays for all our members and investors to have all the information that allows them to travel as often and in good conditions as possible.

The dinner program will be very rich and surprising, with the participation of well-known figures of the industry, such as Rodolphe Saadé, the emblematic head of the CMA-CGM group. Geneviève Melkonian from Aramin will also be there. She is a very dynamic woman. Also Armen Petrossian, Alain Terzian, Serge Avedikian, Arsen Goulamirian, Denis Gorkaeff, Didier Parakian, etc. The world of business, politics, sports, art, tourism and fashion will participate. We will use this presence to honor our young Armenian entrepreneurs. Surprise and amazement will be there.

Let’s get closer to the competition you organized for this occasion. Is it entrepreneurship and French-Armenian friendship that you want to be proud of?

One of the main goals of CCIFA is to strengthen the relationship between all entrepreneurs and especially the Franco-Armenian youth. We have strengthened our relations with UFAR (French University in Armenia) and a competition has been organized. It has been an incredible success with over 121 files submitted to honor all “young entrepreneurs between the ages of 20 and 40”. The awards ceremony will take place during a gala night to celebrate our commitment to youth entrepreneurship.

Many women become entrepreneurs. They are becoming more and more successful. What do you think ?

That is right. When the competition started, we were sure that we would get mostly technical papers (in the IT sector) and without gender parity. The competition was open for approximately 5 months and all you had to do was submit 3 complete files (commercial strategy, communication and Business Plan) in one of 6 areas: IT, services, catering, agri-food, art and industry. Imagine that 6 of the top 10 files are women… They are our future “Ladurée, Google, Moderna, Häagen dazs,…”.

Let’s project ourselves to 2023 and talk about Armenian bullion and companies. I noticed, for example, that among your partners is the SoftConstruct group. Who is this important player? Finally, let’s wrap up with your diary. What is this?

CCIFA was incredibly fortunate to have SoftConstruct, a global technology group based in Armenia, as its first Platinum partner. With a strong passion for developing innovative solutions, SoftConstruct currently works with more than 300 partners worldwide. It has created an ecosystem that connects products and projects, people, ideas and opportunities, united by a desire to push boundaries and challenge existing models. SoftConstruct’s bold ambitions have allowed it to grow into a visionary group with more than 7,000 creative employees and 10+ brands with a number of affiliates around the world.

In closing, I’ll give you a scoop. It is thanks once again to Mr. Vigen Badalyan (co-founder of SoftConstruct) and also to Mr. Vatche Arsene, CEO of ArLeAM (Editor’s note: Badalyan family group company, specialized in food ) that CCIFA is the first international agricultural exhibition in France It will be a pleasure to organize the “Armenian Pavilion” with an incredible stand of more than 60 m2. We look forward to seeing many of you there.

And so the appointments began: January 14 at the Palais de la Bourse in Marseille, from 19:00, to celebrate 30 years of Franco-Armenian entrepreneurship and CCIFA. February 25 agricultural show, Porte de Versailles. And on June 27, for the first flight of Transavia: Marseille-Yerevan.

interview conducted by Antoine Bordier

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