Ensuring a Sustainable Future

4 March 2024
ITC News

Meet young Iraqi entrepreneur Isen Sameer, whose dedication not only revolutionized his own life but also of the community.

Aiming high

Born in 1998 and equipped with an agricultural diploma, Isen's journey unfolds in Karmlees, a small city in Ninewa, a city that endured prolonged conflict.

It is a tale of resilience, innovation, and unwavering commitment to transform his life.

At university, Isen's inspiration was kindled by an empowering speech made by the head of his department about the importance of self-reliance over public sector dependence.

Isen embarked on his entrepreneurial journey at age 20, marking the beginning of a venture that would soon illuminate his community with hope and progress.

Fuelled by the encouragement received at university and motivated by his grandfather's legacy in beekeeping, Isen embarked on a journey of learning and raising awareness about modern beekeeping techniques and their benefits for strengthening biodiversity.

He melded traditional methods with modern techniques honed during the COVID-19 pandemic, evolving into a responsible grandson with a voice that resonated with the elders.

"At the outset of my career, I joined forces with my grandfather, a seasoned beekeeper, in his business. However, when my suggestions for modern techniques and new approaches were met with resistance, I decided to venture out on my own. Today, in a turn of events that I consider a significant personal achievement, my grandfather often seeks my advice, acknowledging the value of the innovations I've introduced."

Isen's enterprise, Karemlash Honey, specializes in honey products, queen bees, bee swarms, pollen, royal jelly, propolis, and beeswax. Focusing on sustainability, he recycles bee waste for candle making, pioneers in artificial insemination, and explores the production of bee venom.

Buzzing success

Navigating the challenges of working with a community reluctant to adopt modern beekeeping techniques and financial constraints, Isen's breakthrough came with the discovery of the European funded SAAVI project through the Directorate of Agriculture.

“I heard about it from a group of beekeepers and applied online. We were thrilled to see the program’s support for the agriculture sector and were encouraged to apply,” Isen recalls.

SAAVI project provided him with essential training in entrepreneurship and agriculture, alongside a grant that helped expand his operations. The support from the project enabled him to acquire sophisticated machinery for artificial insemination.

"ITC SAAVI has trust in our potential. I received comprehensive training that included 10 coaching sessions about innovation, design thinking, sales and value chains. This helped me in preparing a business plan that won me the grant to develop my business. This presents an invaluable opportunity for the youth, enabling them to assert their significance and capabilities within the value chain."

With SAAVI’s assistance, Isen is poised to enhance his production and sales by 15%. The introduction of new machinery will help him employ another staff member and expand his team from four to five members. He wants to begin the production of bee venom, a venture that demands significant investment and innovation.

“SAAVI support had a big positive impact on my personal and business life. It changed many of my concepts about working in the Iraqi local market”, he says.

His business, which has already achieved the milestone of exporting honey to United States despite the high shipping cost, he is now strategizing to penetrate the Arab market and improve packaging and product quality.

Giving back

Isen planted 800 trees in 2022, contributing to the fight against drought, boosting production, and enhancing the scenic beauty of his city, known for its rich array of churches and potential as a tourist hub.

He advocates for starting modestly, seizing every opportunity, expanding networks, and continuously honing skills and techniques.

An inspiration for entrepreneurs in Iraq and beyond, Isen leads by example, showcasing the profound impact of innovation, resilience, and community-centred entrepreneurship.



SAAVI seeks to promote inclusive economic growth and job creation, particularly for Iraqi youth, by improving agricultural competitiveness and supporting trade development. The project is funded by the European Union and implemented in close collaboration with the Government of Iraq, the Norwegian Refugee Council and other partners.