Impact investor and social entrepreneur; Co-Founder, Noôdome
Ruben Vardanyan is an Armenian business leader, social entrepreneur and venture philanthropist, Co-Founder of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative. He and his wife Veronika invest in large-scale multifaceted projects in the sphere of global education, Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and solving humanitarian problems. Ruben and his family, together with partners from various countries, have invested about $1.5 bln in projects all over the world developing a commercial approach that relies on involving blended financing to find solutions to social problems. Among these projects are the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative, the Foundation for Armenian Science and Technology, SKOLKOVO Business School in Russia and the United World College Dilijan in Armenia, programs for tourism and urban development, as well as the preservation of cultural and historical heritage in Armenia and abroad, commercial, research and educational projects connected with wealthcare and succession planning, socio-entrepreneurial projects aimed at professionalization of philanthropy, the ecological platform and many others.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Ruben was part of a group that initiated a public discussion of the future of Russia and Armenia. Together with other professional managers, in 1999 he founded the “Club 2015” in Moscow, and in 2002, together with the American inventor, entrepreneur and philanthropist of Armenian origin Noubar Afeyan and other partners, he launched the “Armenia-2020” project. Many of today’s development projects initiated by Ruben and his partners are a direct result of these two initiatives.
Ruben has received many awards on the international stage for his entrepreneurial and philanthropic activities. Among them are the AIB Presidential Award for contributions to education and the Common Ground Awards, which is awarded by the international nonprofit organization Search for Common Ground to honor outstanding accomplishments in conflict resolution, negotiation, community building, and peace building. In 2001, Fortune magazine included him in the list of “25 rising stars of the new generation,” and the World Economic Forum named him one of the “100 global leaders of tomorrow.” Ruben is a holder of the orders of St. Gregory the Illuminator (the highest award of the Armenian Apostolic Church) and St. Mesrop Mashtots, awarded to him in recognition of many contributions to defending Armenia’s national interests and extensive and productive work for the country’s benefit.
In September 2023, Ruben was unjustly arrested by the Azerbaijani government when trying to leave the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh for Armenia and has been illegally detained ever since. Members of the global humanitarian and human rights community have repeatedly called for his immediate release. You can find more information here: freearmenianprisoners.com.