When Ruben Vardanyan and Veronika Zonabend founded IDeA, they embarked on a mission to transform the future of the Armenian World.
Entrepreneurs and philanthropists, Ruben Vardanyan and Veronika Zonabend made a decision to create IDeA Foundation in order to promote social entrepreneurship and ensure the sustainability of long-tem, non-profit projects that achieve tangible socioeconomic development. Through their family foundation, RVVZ Foundation, Ruben and Veronika have committed to covering operational expenses of the foundation while expanding their network of donors and partners to seed-fund strategic initiatives and projects of IDeA.
The concept for IDeA originated from the project “Armenia-2020”, which was initiated in the early 2000s, and which aimed to identify development prospects until the year 2020. This exercise ultimately pointed to a strategic set of priorities for Armenia, both inside and outside the country. Armenia 2020 has been expanded to Armenia 2031, which will continue to focus its energies on strategic analysis of long-term growth opportunities for Armenia and Armenians.
Ruben Vardanyan is an Armenian-Russian social entrepreneur, impact investor and venture philanthropist. A recognized expert on the global economy, entrepreneurship and education, he provides strategic consulting through his membership of boards of directors, advisory boards and trusteeships of commercial companies, non-governmental organizations, educational institutions, and public and professional bodies. Among them are Aznavour Foundation, business schools in Russia and Brazil, a major Armenian bank (Ameriabank) and Russia’s auto major (SOLLERS). A prominent financier, Ruben is known both for his commercial projects (investment companies Troika Dialog and Vardanyan, Broitman and Partners) as well as his deep reaching philanthropic programs, such as the first UWC college in Eastern Europe (Dilijan, Armenia) and the Tatev Revival Project, part of which includes the construction of the world’s longest cableway leading to an ancient monastery.
Together with their partners, Ruben and his family have invested about $600M in projects in Armenia, developing a commercial approach that relies on involving blended financing to find solutions to social problems. They have also raised over $500M to finance the first private business school in Russia – a pioneering institution both in terms of scale and in its collaborative nature. In 2015, Ruben co-founded another global project, the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative, on behalf of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and in gratitude to their saviors. He spends a significant amount of his time on projects related to the development and professionalization of charity infrastructure in Russia (Philanthropy Infrastructure – PHILIN) and the questions of wealth and legacy curation (Phoenix Advisors). With support from Ruben, Troika Dialog, SKOLKOVO business school and several charitable foundations, classics of world business literature were published in Russia. Since 2016 he has chaired the judging panel of the PwC “Business Book of the Year in Russia” Award.
Veronika Zonabend is the founding partner and the Chair of the Board of Governors of UWC Dilijan College
in Armenia, the first academic institution in Eastern Europe and the CIS to join the United World
Colleges network. She is actively involved in philanthropy, focusing primarily on the promotion of
global education. Together with her husband, Ruben Vardanyan, she is the founder of the RVVZ Family
Foundation and the IDeA Charitable Foundation which implement philanthropic sustainable development
projects in Russia and Armenia. Ms. Zonabend sits on the Boards of Trustees at UWC International (UK)
and the American University of Armenia and chairs the Board of Directors at Teach For Armenia
During in the 2000s, she was an entrepreneur and undertook projects within such diverse sectors as Hospitality, Film Distribution and Production. Notable amongst these was the co-production of “Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky”, a film that closed the Cannes Festival in 2009.
Prior to that, she worked for several years in the banking sector, becoming the Deputy Head of the Foreign Exchange Department of Tveruniversal Bank in 1993. After training as an aeronautical engineer at the Moscow Aviation Institute, she began her career at the Research Institute of Avionics in Russia.
In 2014, the President of the Republic of Armenia awarded Veronika Zonabend the Order of Friendship in recognition of her many contributions to fostering educational development and international collaboration in science and education, as well as for her substantial efforts in building the international school in Dilijan and implementing academic programs.