Armenian General Benevolent Union

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Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU)
Armenian General Benevolent Union logo.png
Formation April 15, 1906 (1906-04-15)
Type NGO
Headquarters New York City, New York
Membership 22,000
Official languages Armenian, English, French, Spanish
President Berge Setrakian
Founder Boghos Nubar
Budget $36 million (annual)

The Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU, Armenian: Հայկական Բարեգործական Ընդհանուր Միություն, ՀԲԸՄ, Haygagan Parekordzagan Enthaour Miutyun) is a non-profit Armenian organization established in Cairo, Egypt in 1906. With the onset of World War II, headquarters were moved to New York City, New York.

With an annual international budget of $36 million,[1] AGBU preserves and promotes the Armenian identity and heritage through educational, cultural and humanitarian programs, annually serving some 400,000 Armenians in 35 countries. In 2006, the AGBU celebrated its centenary in its headquarters in New York City.[1] 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.

The AGBU's first European branch, founded in Manchester in 1909. From left to right: Sarkis Kuyumjian, S. Shnorhavorian, Mihran Manukian (president), M. Bakrjian, K. Funduklian, D. Iplikjian.

In 1921 the union’s headquarters 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 the first Young Professionals (YP) Group in Los Angeles; today, there are 27 YP Groups and Partners worldwide. For more information, visit

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.

Centers, chapters and offices[edit]


AGBU operates 18 day schools and 15 Saturday (one-day) schools. Some of the important schools run by the AGBU include:

It awards scholarship grants and loans to more than 500 students worldwide; it supports the American University of Armenia and Yerevan State University.

The Union has funded a number of benevolent causes, including supporting the Lord Byron School, which was donated by the British government following the earthquake in Armenia in 1988. The school has continued to twin with the Holgate School in Nottingham.[2]

Youth and culture[edit]

Through its extensive global network of 75 chapters, young professionals groups, centers and offices, the organization sponsors numerous worthwhile cultural and humanitarian programs, including children's centers, soup kitchens, summer camps, athletics and Scouts,[3] internship and mentoring programs and the performing arts. It claims to be the world's largest non-profit Armenian organization.[4]


With more than a dozen publications in six languages, AGBU has a rich publishing tradition[5]

  • Ararat Quarterly (born 1959) A quarterly of literature, history, popular culture and the arts.
  • AGBU News (New York, NY, USA)
  • AGBU Voice (Bulgaria)
  • Arek Monthly (Cairo, Egypt)
  • Desilk (Scarborough, Canada)
  • Deghegadou (Cairo, Egypt)
  • Generation 3 (Argentina)
  • Hayatsk (Aleppo, Syria)
  • Hoosharar (New York, NY, USA)
  • Khosnag (Beirut, Lebanon)
  • Mioutune (Sydney, Australia)
  • Parekordzagani Tsayn (Sofia, Bulgaria)
  • Revue Arménienne des Questions Contemporaines (France)
  • UGAB-France (Paris, France)
  • Yeram (Damascus, Syria)
  • Generacion 3 (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
  • AGBU Scout "Սկաուտ" (Yerevan, Armenia)



  1. ^ a b c d e "About AGBU". Armenian General Benevolent Union. Archived from the original on 27 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-12. 
  2. ^ Obituary for George S. Kurkjian, 2005
  3. ^
  4. ^ "AGBU promotes the Armenian heritage around the world.". AGBU Press Office (Armenian General Benevolent Union). 2008-03-18. Retrieved 2008-08-12. 
  5. ^ Listing of AGBU publications worldwide

External links[edit]

AGBU Regional:

AGBU Schools: