USAID Forum Offers Iraqi Entrepreneurs Options for Financing Businesses

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, June 2, 2009
USAID Press Office

BAGHDAD -The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) hosted a workshop on June 2 to help Iraqi entrepreneurs find viable options for financial assistance to build sustainable enterprises and support Iraq's private-sector development.

The workshop, titled "Opportunities and Challenges of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises," was one of a series of initiatives implemented through USAID's Community Stabilization Program (CSP) that helps stabilize communities by offering grants and training to entrepreneurs, among other activities. The program works closely with grant recipients by providing in-kind assets for their businesses and training in basic business skills.

Traditionally, Iraqi banks have not practiced lending to low-income clients to avoid credit risks. To fill the gap in business development, USAID under the CSP program has awarded more than $78 million in grants to 10,300 Iraqi businesses. These grants have created or restored jobs for 37,000 Iraqi people, enabling them to contribute to the growing economy.

As Iraq transitions to a more stable environment, the need for in-kind grants such as those offered through the CSP program will end. CSP is conducting workshops offering information about other financial services available in Iraq to help program recipients adjust to the transition and ensure continuity of their businesses.

Held at Al Rasheed Hotel in the International Zone of Baghdad, the workshop introduced recipients of CSP grants to the USAID-funded Tijara Economic Growth Program that supports Iraqi-owned microfinance institutions and Small Business Development Centers. In addition to loan capital, the program offers training, technical assistance and other financial services products.

Complementing the Tijara program, USAID's Inma Agribusiness Program helps build meaningful linkages between farmers, agribusinesses, financial services, and domestic and international markets. The program also offers grants to non-governmental organizations, which then provide micro-loans to farmers and small businesses.

By demonstrating the viability of micro, small, and medium enterprises, USAID aims to stimulate private sector lending that will advance sustainable and more equitable economic growth in Iraq.

Since 2003, USAID has invested more than $6 billion on programs designed to stabilize communities; foster economic and agricultural growth; and build the capacity of the national, local, and provincial governments to respond to the needs of the Iraqi people.