New Field Partner: Creating jobs and thriving businesses in Iraq with Izdiharona

The war in Iraq has devastated much of the country's economy, leaving families struggling to make a living. But there are signs of hope, small and medium-sized businesses are emerging, capable of employing more people and turning communities around. There’s just one problem: these businesses often have a hard time finding the capital they need to grow. On one hand, they’re too small to get loans from commercial banks -- on the other, they’re too big to work with most microfinance institutions.

That’s why we’re thrilled to be partnering with Izdiharona for Economic Development, a nonprofit organization in Iraq that provides financial assistance to small and medium enterprises in need of working capital. The goal: to give individuals the resources they need to improve life for themselves and their families. 

This is Ali. At 34, he's the father of four children and has been working in agriculture since he was 13, growing palm trees and selling dates. He's looking for a $3,000 loan to purchase organic fertilizers and renovate his farm for greater production. The goal is to eventually buy livestock and use the income to give his young family a better life.

Currently, Izdiharona operates ten branch offices throughout the country, each dedicated to providing financial services that can help jumpstart the economy. It offers loans designed to help existing businesses, startups and individuals, and prioritizes serving members of the most vulnerable communities, including the very poor and other marginalized groups. 

Izdiharona gives Kiva lenders the opportunity to fund loans for education, brand new businesses, green technology or energy businesses, and businesses started by young people. It even offers zero-interest loans to the ultra-poor, and promotes projects to help women generate income in an environment where gender discrimination is common and there are many barriers to entry.

Women are playing an increasingly important role in Iraq's economic development. Accordingly, 35% of the organization's portfolio is comprised of women borrowers -- the highest percentage of female clients of any financial institution in the country.

This is Taghrid. At 24, she's married and runs a small sewing business out of her home. She's gotten a great reputation around her neighborhood for the quality of her work. Now she just needs a $2,000 loan to take her business to the next level and hire other women in her community looking for work.

Every day, Izdiharona staffers work in a truly post-conflict environment. Nine out of its ten branches are located outside Kurdistan, including high-risk areas of Baghdad and central Iraq. To help these populations, the organization launched its Iraqi Vulnerable Groups Support Initiatives, making loans ranging from $500 to $5,000 to Iraqis who are disadvantaged due to gender, ethnicity, location or the nature of their business. So far, this program has reached close to 500 clients with over $1 million in loans.

Interested in helping to rebuild the Iraqi economy in meaningful ways? 
Make a loan through Izdiharona today!

Have questions about Izdiharona or our other field partnerships? Send them out way at Or check our Izdiharona's website here.

About the author

Camille Ricketts

Camille brings her passion for storytelling to Kiva, where she helps create and curate online content. A longtime journalist, she started her career reporting on arts and culture for the Wall Street Journal in London and New York. In 2008, she joined San Francisco-based blog VentureBeat, writing about  green technology, policy and finance. Most recently, she worked in public relations for electric vehicle maker Tesla Motors. Outside of work, Camille volunteers as a web designer for maternal health nonprofit Saving Mothers. She holds a B.A. in women's history from Stanford University, where she also served as editor in chief of The Stanford Daily.