Building a prosperous social enterprise from scratch is quite a challenging task. It requires perseverance and enormous motivation. Social enterprises need not only business ideas, but also emotional investment and commitment. Samvel Mirzakhanyan, the founder of Haterk Food, is someone who cares about people and their health. He started out producing honey in Haterk village in Nagorno-Karabakh, and is now about to sell his products in two shops in Dubai.
Expanding a business is complicated for any company, but Haterk Food experienced some profound challenges on its journey to success due to the war of 2020. Despite enormous production delays, the enterprise managed to grow considerably, though Samvel had to relocate his business to the Tavush Region of Armenia.
He was in huge amounts of debt, and no banks were willing to lend him the resources he needed to recover, but he never gave up hope. And while some may assume that hope dies last, the majority of situations reveal that it does not die at all – as long as you believe in something firmly enough, it will prevail.
Samvel began his training with the EU4Youth Social Entrepreneurship in Armenia and Georgia (SEAG) project during one of the most vulnerable phases of his business operation. But with each passing day, he became more confident that he could overcome the challenges and follow the path to success. The SEAG project was a good fit, as it aims at contributing to societal change through promoting the idea and effectiveness of social enterprises in cross-border areas of Armenia and Georgia.
During the interview, Samvel remarked: “Thanks to the SEAG project, I was able to get back on my feet, more determined, experienced, stronger, and more motivated than ever before. I was able to relocate Haterk Food to Koti in Armenia’s Tavush area, receive grants and financial assistance, and move forward with a brand new lease of life.”
Nowadays, Haterk Food offers a variety of 100% natural and eco-friendly products from different parts of Armenia, such as honey, propolis and dried fruits. It successfully collaborates with farmers, and only requires that the products they provide are completely natural and are grown without the use of any chemicals. The motivation behind the enterprise was the belief that people deserve natural products that can slow down ageing processes and improve their health.
Samvel’s current main objective is to enter the international market. When an incredible opportunity appeared on the horizon, Samvel decided to take full advantage of it. The Organic & Natural Food Expo 2021 was soon to be held in Dubai. Samvel, his technologist Vladimir Hovsepyan and the SEAG project’s mentor Artak Aslanyan, conducted some market research that made them realise their branding wasn’t quite up to scratch for the international market. In a few days, they found an internationally famous company to conduct a complete rebrand of their products.
They embraced the opportunity with seriousness and dignity, and flew to Dubai four days before the Expo to do more market research and apply the skills learned during the SEAG project’s training (to examine well-known brands’ strategies and incorporate the most effective techniques into their own marketing strategies). Their efforts were not in vain: many people and other companies expressed interest during the Expo, and Haterk Foods will shortly begin an official collaboration with two shops in Dubai.
After the Haterk Food team had evaluated their progress so far, and ensured that each of their goals had been achieved in the best possible manner, they started to think of the next steps. The company currently has 11 employees. Samvel plans to expand his business and provide career opportunities for over 100 people within the next 2 years. The training on new technologies in beekeeping that the company offers will be advanced, and future specialists will be educated so they can shine bright in the future.
“We care about society, products that feed society, and about youth employment opportunities – as well as making sure to provide an all-inclusive environment that employs equality and diversity policies. Our enterprise is more than just a food production business,” says Samvel. He does everything he can to advance his social enterprise’s mission.
Author: Nelli Gevorgyan, Development Principles NGO, Armenia
The EU4Youth Social Entrepreneurship in Armenia and Georgia (SEAG) project aims at building the capacity of young people by acquiring new knowledge and skills in the social business area, as well as creating new opportunities to support youth initiatives in the field. SEAG’s overall objective is to foster the entrepreneurial potential of young people (aged 18-30) from Armenia and Georgia in the field of social entrepreneurship, notably with a view to contributing to social cohesion, employment, inclusion and reduction of inequalities.
The project is implemented by the Armenian NGO Development Principles, in partnership with Mercy Corps International and the Georgian Association of Business Consulting Organisations (ABCO) within the framework of the EU4Youth programme, funded by the European Union.
Find out more about Haterk Food and the entrepreneur Samvel Mirzakhanyan
This website is managed by the EU-funded Regional Communication Programme for the Eastern Neighbourhood ('EU NEIGHBOURS east’), which complements and supports the communication of the Delegations of the European Union in the Eastern partner countries, and works under the guidance of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, and the European External Action Service. EU NEIGHBOURS east is implemented by a B&S Europe-led consortium. It is part of the larger Neighbourhood Communication Programme (2020-2024) for the EU's Eastern and Southern Neighbourhood, which also includes 'EU NEIGHBOURS south’ project that runs the EU Neighbours portal.