The Meat Mogul from Mosul

Speeches Shim

Wednesday, June 23, 2021
Maamon Majeed began his career in construction before transitioning to agriculture, where he saw a golden opportunity to start his own business venture.

“I realized that this was a major gap to be filled and saw a potential business opportunity,” said Maamon. “I developed a proposal and sent it to USAID. A person responded and came to visit me in my village to discuss my project.” 

Maamon Majeed, 46, grew up in a small village called Blan near the city of Mosul in northern Iraq. Maamon was always looking to create something bigger than himself to help his community, keeping an open mind to new opportunities as they came. He began his career in construction, working with American companies and even with the U.S. Army. When his project with the U.S. Army was wrapping up, he learned that USAID was starting an agriculture program and they were looking for worthy projects to support. Maamon instantly thought of the poor quality of meat available in Iraq. It was expensive to properly raise animals, especially large animals, which required using high quality feed and constant maintenance. There was also a lack of understanding of proper slaughtering and butchering techniques, which greatly reduced the quality of the meat and also caused hygienic concerns. Shoppers had no choice but to purchase cuts of meat that were often poorly flayed and left outside with no refrigeration, often in direct sunlight, for hours. “I realized that this was a major gap to be filled and saw a potential business opportunity,” said Maamon. “I developed a proposal and sent it to USAID. A person responded and came to visit me in my village to discuss my project.” 

Maamon Majeed walks through the cattle feed lot

Cows in feedlot


Workers at the meat counter of Blann Bazaar serve customers

Maamon’s project was accepted by USAID. With USAID’s support, Maamon built his first feedlot. This was the first step towards Maamon’s dream of building his meat empire: a year after starting his feedlot, he opened a butcher shop; the next year, he opened his first slaughterhouse. “I knew I needed to go step by step,” said Maamon.

When he began expanding his business beyond his feedlot and slaughtering his own animals, USAID played an important role in training his staff and partners in proper hygiene practices and cutting techniques. “USAID stayed with us for two weeks. They taught us how to cut meat, do a steak, break down an animal piece by piece,” recalled Maamon. 

In 2012, Maamon opened his first hypermarket, “Blann Bazaar”. Equipped with the techniques taught to him by USAID, Maamon’s 35-meter refrigerated meat display features a wide variety of quality cuts of meat, a rarity in most supermarkets in Iraq. Maamon is proud of how his skills set his business apart from the competition. “In [the north of Iraq], if you ask anyone where to get the best meat, they say Blann Bazaar!”. 

Despite its success, Blann Bazaar was not immune to the numerous challenges that Iraq faced over the past ten years. ISIS’s occupation in Mosul caused a great deal of destruction to the business and the COVID-19 pandemic also resulted in significant revenue loss, with restrictions and curfews seriously reducing store traffic. Furthermore, the lack of a centralized banking system makes it difficult for businesses like Maamon’s to get a loan to grow or rebuild after a crisis. Nevertheless, Maamon continues to keep his sights on the future and on expansion. In addition to caring for his five children, Maamon also feels responsible for caring for his employees. “My family is over a thousand people - everyone working with me is my family.” Today, Maamon’s business consists of four feedlots, a slaughterhouse, 14 hypermarkets, two butcher shops, and one meat processing factory. “One day I want Blann Bazaar to be known around the world as the Iraqi brand for high quality meats.”

Last updated: October 22, 2021

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