The Armenian General Benevolent Union is the world’s largest non-profit organization devoted to upholding the Armenian heritage through educational, cultural and humanitarian programs. Through the vision of its leaders and the generous support of devoted donors and members over the years, AGBU has played a significant role in preserving Armenian traditions and values by adapting to the needs of the worldwide community and the demands of the times.

Since 1906, AGBU has remained true to one overarching goal: to create a foundation for the prosperity of all Armenians. Today, it includes 74 districts, chapters and partner groups; 28 Young Professionals groups; and 24 day and Saturday schools; along with dozens of camps, scout groups and athletics programs. In its history, AGBU has remained true to the vision of its founders by investing in the moral and intellectual development of the Armenian people and focusing on sustainable growth in all communities—a vision it will continue to uphold well into the future.




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Berge Setrakian is the seventh President of the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), the world’s largest pan-Armenian organization. Born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1949, Setrakian has been an active, life-long AGBU member and has held various leadership positions in the organization, first in Lebanon, and later in the USA. In 1977, Setrakian became the youngest person to ever be elected to the AGBU Central Board of Directors. After several decades of service on the Board, Setrakian was elected Secretary of the AGBU Central Board of Directors. Five years later, he was elected AGBU Vice President-Secretary. He was elected President of AGBU on February 22, 2002, and continues to serve in this capacity.

Before moving to the United States in 1976, Setrakian was an active political figure in Lebanon’s university student circles, and Head of the pan-Lebanon scout movement.

During his years on the AGBU Board, President Setrakian closely cooperated with his predecessors, Alex Manoogian and Louise Manoogian Simone. For more than thirty years, Setrakian has traveled the world, strengthening his ties with AGBU networks, structures and Armenian youth. In particular, he has focused on youth who, as third- or fourth-generation Diasporan-Armenians, have never closely identified with their Armenian heritage. He has also expanded the Union’s activities in Armenia and the Diaspora, focusing on new initiatives and projects.

Berge Setrakian is married to Vera Nazarian Setrakian and has two daughters: Ani, a New York-based attorney, and Lara, a political commentator working with well-known international news agencies such as ABC, Bloomberg and others.

Setrakian is fluent in Armenian, Arabic, English and French. He has received Masters Degrees in French and Comparative Law from St. Joseph University in Beirut and Lyon University in France. Today, he is a senior partner at a leading law firm in New York.

Setrakian is a member of the New York Bar Association, as well as the Beirut Bar Association. He serves on the Boards of various non-profit and non-governmental organizations, as well as the American-Lebanese Task Force for Lebanon. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the American University of Armenia.

In 2011, Berge Setrakian was awarded with the Order of Honor by the President of the Republic of Armenia for his outstanding contributions to protecting the country’s national interests, as well as his lifelong, unwavering dedication, and patriotic and other services to Armenia.

AGBU in Armenia

AGBU in Armenia

AGBU First Assistance to Armenia

During the hard famine AGBU, within the frames of his first benevolent projects,

in 1907 imported food and seed to Yerevan as an assistance to the starving Armenians.

AGBU in Soviet Armenia

1923թ According to the order of 1923, signed by As. Mravyan and Ar. Yerznkyan AGBU became the only benevolent organization allowed to function in the Soviet Armeniaduring the next 14 years.

1920s. Agricultural machines, seed and other assistance to the Soviet Armenia

1926 . Assistance to the reconstruction of Shirak region earthquake zone.

1937 Opening of the Matenadaran library and publishing house constructed by AGBU.

Since 1930 Assistance to the Yerevan State University in printing important scientific publications and providing with the necessary newest equipments.

1936. Building of the Home of Armenian Intelligentsia in Yerevan.

1923-36s Approximately 17,000 Armenian migrants return to motherland from Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, France, Bulgaria and other countries.

1924 Displacement of 250 orphans of AGBU orphanages to Armenia.

1929 Establishment of Mary Noubar Eye Clinic

1929 Establishment of "Darouhi Hakobian" Pregnant Center

1925 Establishment of New Yedovkia village for the resettlement of immigrants.

1937 1 million US dollars fundraising and the establishment of Nubarashen settlement, where 1000 immigrants inhabited.

1944 105,000 US dollar medicines and clothing to Armenia.

1946 51,060 Armenians' repatriation to Armenia from Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Bulgaria, Greece and Romania in virtue of 1,073,810 USD dollars raised by AGBU for that purpose.

1944-48s In general, for the purpose of assisting the immigration and helping postwar Armenia, AGBU fundraised approximately 2, 300,000 US dollars.

1950-88s AGBU assistnace to Armenia through church

1983թ. Opening of Alex Manoogian treasury house in Holy See of St. Etchmiadzin


1988s Earthquake of 1988

  1. Just three days after the earthquake AGBU imports medicine, clothes, food and other necessary things to Armenia.
  2. People who suffered from the earthquake undergo medical treatment in USA.
  3. Foreign doctors and specialists arrive in Armenia to bring medical assistance to the survivors here.
  4. 10 million USD raised by AGBU philanthropists to help Armenian people.
  5. 1989-1992 - Construction of food storage in Gyumri.
  6. 1991 – Establishment of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Center in Yerevan.


Third Republic of Armenia

AGBU was side by side with Armenia at the fatal moment of creation of the third republic and during further hard years.

1. AGBU Centers

2. Cultural projects

3. Educational projects

4. Healthcare projects

5. Cooperation with the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin

6. Humanitarian projects

7. Projects in NKR

8. Youth Projects

9. AGBU Internship Program

10. Special Donations since 1991

AGBU history

History Of The Armenian General Benevolent Union

The Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) was founded on April 15, 1906, in Cairo, Egypt, by the initiative of renowned national figure Boghos Nubar and other prominent representatives of Egyptian-Armenian community to contribute to the spiritual and cultural development of the Armenian people.

The goal was to establish a union that would in every way assist the Armenian people, the future of which, as a minority in the Ottoman Empire, was endangered.

In 1906-1912 the AGBU provided the villagers of the Western Armenia with seeds, agricultural instruments, etc. It established schools and orphanages in Western Armenia, Cilicia and other Armenian-populated regions of the Ottoman Empire. In 1914 AGBU had 142 branches in Western Armenia, Cilicia, USA, Argentina, Europe and Africa with 8533 members.

The WWI years and the Armenian Genocide were a turning point both for the Armenian nation and the AGBU. In 1914 Boghos Nubar left Egypt and moved to Paris. Despite the huge losses in different chapters of the union, the AGBU managed to render tangible help to the Genocide survivors. In October 1915, the Sisvan school with 1222 students, later an orphanage and a camp for women refugees were established by the AGBU in the desert near Port Said, Egypt, where the camp of the survived people of Musa Dagh was settled. In the years following the Genocide the AGBU was mainly involved in taking care of orphans. After the war the AGBU was reformed and founded new branches in Armenian-populated regions of the Near East, Greece, France and USA.

In 1921 the union’s headquarter was moved from Cairo to Paris. After the World War I the main goal of the AGBU was to preserve and promote Armenian language, identity and heritage through educational, cultural and humanitarian programs.

In 1926, AGBU established the Melkonian Educational Institution in Nicosia, Cyprus, Nubarian foundation, which provided scholarships to Armenian youngsters to study in European universities, and the Marie Nubar Dormitory in Paris in 1930.

In 1930 after the death of Boghos Nubar, oil magnate and another prominent Armenian figure Galust Gyulbenkian takes over the presidency of AGBU. After heading the union for two years, his son, Zareh Bey Nubar, came to replace him in that position and headed the union until 1940. During the World War II the AGBU headquarters was moved from Paris to New York.

In 1942, Arshak Karagyozian became the fourth president of the AGBU. The AGBU activities aimed at national preservation became more effective in post-war period, especially during Alex Manoogian’s tenure (1953-1989). AGBU expands and becomes the biggest and most influential Diaspora-Armenian organization in the world.

In 1954 Alex Manoogian founded ՚՚"Alex and Marie Manoogian" and in 1968 "Alex Manoogian" cultural funds, through which a number of educational and other establishments were built in the next several years. Today, AGBU has chapters in 80 cities of 22 countries of the world, with 22,000 members, 120 branches, 27 cultural centers spread worldwide in USA, Europe, Near East, South America, Australia. AGBU has 20 schools (6600 students) and finances more than 16 educational establishments. In Paris and New York the AGBU has two libraries.

In 1989, Louise Manoogian Simone, daughter of Alex Manoogian, became the president of the AGBU. It gave a new breath to the strengthening of ties between the Armenians of Armenia and Diaspora.

In 1988, immediately after the Spitak earthquake, AGBU organized transportation of food, clothes, and medicine to the disaster zone.

In 1990 AGBU opened a representation in Yerevan. Restarting its activities in Armenia after a 50-year interval, along with humanitarian assistance, the AGBU carries out projects aimed and contributing to the development of the country.

In 1995 AGBU founded "Young Professionals" (YP) organization in Los Angeles. More than 500 graduates of US, Canadian and European universities are members of this organization. Today, there are 17 YP groups in 11 countries of the world, among which the newly-established AGBU YP Yerevan group (2007).

Since 2002 Berge Setrakian is the president of AGBU. Having been an active member of AGBU structures since early youth, today he continues this patriotic mission, which started a century ago.



Author Hovig Eordekian

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