Building Businesses in Post-Conflict Iraqi Communities

Nazira, an Iraqi widow and persistent entrepreneur, embodies the term ‘self-made.’

After her husband passed away in 2008, she knew she needed to become the household’s breadwinner, on top of raising and supporting her five children. But she didn’t have success getting a job and lacked much work experience.

She decided to turn to the craft of baking Kurdish bread, which she learned from her mother at a young age. She convinced her family and mother to put up start up capital, but to further expand her business and distribute to stores she turned to Kiva field partner Relief International Microfinance Iraq and was able to get a $20,000 loan funded on Kiva.

In addition to earning her own family’s income, Nazira is proud to be providing job opportunities and income to more than 10 female employees, many of them widows.

Nazira prepares her speciality, Kurdish bread.

Stories like Nazira’s are becoming more common through Kiva and Relief International Microfinance Iraq’s partnership, which began at the end of 2011. Relief International carries a strong social focus and proven ability to target areas of great economic need.  They purposely focus on providing relief and services to people in areas under duress from civil or national conflict. They target geographic areas that have the highest incidence of poverty, and they intentionally seek to go where other MFIs do not.

Kiva’s partnership with Relief International Microfinance Iraq has already netted some impressive statistics. As of April 28th, 2014, 25 loans from RI have been funded on Kiva. These loans have reached different regions across Iraq - from Kirkuk and Sulaymaniyah to Najaf & Karbala - and have funded for a total dollar amount of $297,900.

Kiva’s goal with this investment is to help push the frontier of access to finance in a country with a microfinance penetration rate of less than one percent.  And to see more success stories like Nazira. With her loan, she was able to buy a pick-up truck to distribute her local Kurdish bread to the supermarkets and groceries in the surrounding neighborhood.

Her bakery’s sales have increased and are expected to keep rising. She hopes to eventually open more branches in different cities within the Kurdistan region, as well as opening a local Kurdish sweets shop in her city. Help fund a post-conflict community through innovative small businesses and International Microfinance Iraq here.

About the author

Adam Guarneri

Raised in Marin County, Adam is a recent graduate from Occidental College, where he majored in Diplomacy and World Affairs. In his time at college, Adam studied abroad at the United Nations in Geneva for a summer, wrote his senior thesis on large-scale land acquisitions in Mozambique, and was a member of Occidental's Impact Fund, which put $3000 towards multiple Kiva loans. Currently, Adam works part time as Communications Coordinator for Jazz in the Neighborhood, a local non-profit thats mission is to provide Bay Area jazz artists a guaranteed salary for performances, and mentor young aspiring jazz musicians. Both Adam's work at school and abroad confirmed his interest in international development and sustainability, and he is excited to be joining Kiva as a Community Support Intern. In his free time, Adam enjoys following his Bay Area sports teams, playing basketball, and dining on all the great food San Francisco has to offer.