Sustainable Living in Iraq: A Milestone 1,000 SMEs Financed Through IOM's Enterprise Development Fund
At the conclusion of Iraq's devastating conflict with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), small and medium enterprises (SMEs) found themselves without access to the finance necessary to rebuild in the wake of the war's large-scale destruction.
In 2018, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Iraq launched the Enterprise Development Fund (EDF), a financing mechanism to provide SMEs with access to capital to stimulate their recovery and growth and increase their demand for workers.
Since then, the EDF has supported 1,000 Iraqi businesses across the country to help create 4,975 jobs for men and women, returnees and host community members alike, in key economic sectors. On 14 December 2021, IOM Iraq marked this achievement with a ceremony in Baghdad.
"In the face of wide-spread economic decline in Iraq, celebrating such progress supports momentum for economic recovery across the country, particularly in locations with large displaced and returnee populations," said IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Giorgi Gigauri. "As 2021 ends, we can see many opportunities to support decent, sustainable work opportunities in Iraq's private sector. IOM is thankful for the collaboration with the Government of Iraq and our partners to carry out this innovative and essential programming."
The EDF uses a demand-driven, market-based approach to identify businesses with the greatest chance of success to grow and create jobs. Regular research allows IOM Iraq to continuously adapt and improve to target critical sectors - such as agriculture and renewable energy - and specific groups - such as women entrepreneurs and SMEs combatting the spread of COVID-19.
Jobs don't just increase income and stimulate spending; they also give people a sense of purpose and dignity. The ability to make a sustainable living is also a key factor in decisions to migrate and return.
Since the programme's start, EDF grantees have hired 753 women into full-time, paid employment; and 92% of people hired by EDF grantees were either unemployed (55%) or in unstable daily employment (37%) previously. Efforts also aim to protect workers by promoting employment contracts, minimum wages and a focus on safety in the workplace.
Interventions will continue to evolve to respond to emerging challenges and opportunities. The EDF program has been supported by the governments of the United States, Japan, Germany and the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and by the European Union and Korea International Cooperation Agency.