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Starting over with cucumbers and radishes

Starting over with cucumbers and radishes

My name is Sawar. I am 30 years old and I’m from Dohuk in northern Iraq. In 2014, my wife Salwa and I fled from the attacks of the so-called Islamic State to Georgia because we wanted to give our children a secure future. But I couldn't find work in Georgia. Since 2016, we have been back in Iraq and have built up an agricultural business in Dohuk.

In the first period after our return, I worked as a day labourer in construction to feed my family. But I was looking for a long-term opportunity. I learned from a friend that the German Centre for Jobs, Migration and Reintegration (GMAC) in Erbil helps returnees to build a new existence.

Discussing the idea in detail with GMAC

So my wife and I contacted the GMAC. At first, we had the idea of starting our own sheep farming business. But after some consideration, Salwa suggested that we try vegetable farming. She has talent and the necessary experience for it. So, we discussed the pros and cons of our plan with the GMAC advisory team. After several discussions and an intensive exchange of ideas, Salwa and I felt that vegetable farming was the best career path for us.


GMAC then referred us to a partner organisation, the ETTC (European Technology and Training Center). Among other things, ETTC offers workshops and training courses on starting a business. There we presented our idea, which the team liked. Salwa and I were given the opportunity to participate in a business management workshop. In the three-day training, we learned how to run our own company, create a marketing plan and make decisions for a business. We also learned a lot about business communication, accounting, creativity and innovation. These three days helped Salwa and me a lot. After that, we felt ready for our start-up.

The first two greenhouses are ready

In the meantime, we have two greenhouses of our own, which GMAC helped us to buy. These greenhouses are very large. At the beginning we only planted smaller areas, but now we use the whole space. We grow cucumbers and radishes, and our family can make a good living from selling them.

In addition, we are constantly trying to develop: this year we added a new cucumber variety from Armenia to our programme. We’re also trying different things to protect and care for our plants even better. We are constantly learning. In the future, we plan to build another greenhouse and grow even more varieties.

We stayed in contact with GMAC. The advisory team is very interested in our company. It is always there to help us with questions and provide support for us when needed. The cooperation was and still is very helpful. GMAC has assisted us in fulfilling our dream of self-employment.

As of: 07/2021

The opportunities for advice and assistance described here are offered as part of “Returning to New Opportunities”.

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We’re trying different things to protect and care for our plants even better. We are constantly learning.

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