USAID Microfinance Program in Iraq Tops $300 Million in Micro-loans

For Immediate Release

Friday, July 3, 2009
USAID Press Office

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced that Tijara, its private-sector development program in Iraq, has helped provide more than 132,000 micro-loans worth a combined value of $300 million since the start of U.S. government microfinance assistance to Iraq in 2004.

The Tijara program covers all of Iraq's 18 provinces by supporting nine Iraqi-owned microfinance institutions (MFIs) and three international MFIs. The one-year loans average about $1,500 at 15 to 18 percent annual interest and the repayment rate is more than 98 percent. As of June 2009, more than $68 million in micro-loans to about 44,000 active clients are outstanding.

Many of the MFIs operate several branches within a particular region to ensure resources for economic revitalization are accessible to as many communities as possible. In addition to loan capital, Tijara, which means "trade" in Arabic, provides training, technical assistance and other types of capacity building support. Iraqis managing the loan portfolios at MFIs acquire the professional skills necessary to sustain and grow the lending industry in Iraq.

According to Paul Bruning, Director of USAID's Economic Growth and Agriculture Office in Iraq, "Over the past five years, USAID has supported the development of Iraq's Microfinance Industry which plays a vital role in providing micro-loans to Iraqi entrepreneurs. These loans allow small business owners to further develop their businesses, creating new jobs and improving living conditions across Iraq. As of today, the Iraqi microfinance industry provided more than $300 million in micro-loans to entrepreneurs throughout Iraq. USAID's goal is to further develop the industry to improve services, adopt international best practices, and integrate into regional and global microfinance networks."

The U.S. Agency for International Development has provided economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide for more than 40 years. For more information on USAID's Iraq program, please visit