Iraqi entrepreneurs face challenges in their journey to start or grow their businesses. One of the most critical is access to finance.
Sandra Yousef is an internally displaced Iraqi who fled to Dohuk with her young family and set up a small business selling birthday decorations to help meet their financial needs. Wanting to grow her small business, Sandra approached several banks to get a loan, yet her request was constantly declined.
Narges Said, an internally displaced young graduate from Mosul, also lives in Dohuk. After completing a degree in IT, she struggled to find work in her profession. Instead, she set up business sewing and selling clothes, with the support of her family.
The two young entrepreneurs were brought together under an initiative by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Central Bank of Iraq to facilitate access to affordable financial services for young Internally Displaced Persons and host community members in Dohuk and Ninewa.
The initiative has allowed three partners bank - the Iraqi Middle East Investment Bank, the National Bank of Iraq and Cihan Bank for Islamic Investment – to provide entrepreneurs with loans so they can set up or grow their businesses.
Both Sandra and Narges have been provided with bank loans to expand their businesses, helping them realise their aspirations of becoming successful entrepreneurs.
In addition to the loans, entrepreneurs and business owners were given training in ILO‘s Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB) programme designed to support small-scale entrepreneurs to start or grow their businesses. Training sessions on Financial Education were also provided, aimed at enhancing the financial knowledge and skills of young people to better manage their finances and prepare them to access financial services.
These efforts are being implemented by the ILO under the PROSPECTS programme in Iraq, with the support of the Government of the Netherlands.