Danish Refugee Council hosted events across the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and Federal Iraq, linking graduates from one of its economic recovery programs to essential suppliers, customers and stakeholders in the area.
These events are a crucial step towards empowering local entrepreneurs, many of whom who have been internally displaced. The project is made possible due to support from the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, a department of USAID.
Attendees of the event were graduates from DRC's economic recovery program which is designed to enhance the self-reliance and resilience of communities affected by displacement across Iraq. By providing tailored and comprehensive livelihood support, including career guidance, skill training, financial inclusion, job placements, and grants, DRC equips participants with the necessary tools to thrive as business owners.
Additionally, the program addresses key barriers to market participation by offering legal information and specialized legal aid, enabling beneficiaries to navigate the intricate landscape of entrepreneurship confidently.
Zainab began baking kulecha – a traditional, sweet pastry often filled with dates - at home to earn an income whilst caring for her children, one of whom is disabled. Zainab sold her baked goods to neighbours and friends but still relied on employment as a daily worker to sustain an income.
Zainab then enrolled on DRC’s economic recovery program and learnt business skills and legal knowledge which enabled her to think more about the future and how to expand her business.
“The grant allowed me to buy equipment and supplies, it has increased my income so much. I used to be a daily worker but now I employ two daily workers. My business is doing well, I am so busy that I often work six days a week”.
Zainab was thankful for the market linkage event and saw it as a way to engage new customers and raise the profile of her business.
“I want people to know me. I came to publicize my business and give out my business cards.”
The recent Market Linkage Events, hosted in Dhuhok Erbil and Dhuluiya, provided unique platforms for participants to engage directly with customers, suppliers and key stakeholders from various industries. Beyond networking, the events facilitated collaborations and partnerships that hold the potential to reshape local business dynamics.
Fredrik Pålsson, Country Director of DRC Iraq stated,
"The Market Linkage Events underscore our commitment to sustainable development by creating platforms for graduates to forge meaningful connections with suppliers, customers and stakeholders.
It is heartening to witness these entrepreneurs thriving in their business ventures."
The program's adaptability and responsiveness to market realities have been essential to its success. With the ability to tailor approaches based on shifting economic conditions, currency fluctuations, and other challenges, DRC ensures its interventions remain effective and relevant.
Beyond the Market Linkage Events, DRC's commitment to economic recovery is evident in the comprehensive support it provides.
Business and financial management training, support with financial inclusion through linking participants to financial institutions, business development grants, and ongoing advisory support lay the groundwork for micro and small enterprises to flourish.
The program also places a special focus on supporting female entrepreneurs and youth, acknowledging their unique challenges and contributions in Iraq.
This article was funded by a grant from the United States Department of State. The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.