Koustan is very kind and humble 22-year-old Iraqi woman. Her husband and their two small children live in small and modest, spotless home. While her husband works hard, she also wanted to contribute to the family's monthly income.
To help support her family, in 2007 she started working from home on her old sewing machine mounted on a small wooden stool. To work, she sat next to it the floor.
Koustan took a loan of 1200 USD from Relief International in order to purchase a new sewing machine to replace her old one, and also to buy fabric and various accessories allowing her to not only alter old dresses but also make new ones.
As the children grow, and she is able to work more, Koustan hopes to better support her sons and the family.
Based on the political and social challenges of lending in Iraq, personally identifiable information about this borrower has been altered for their protection. RI-Iraq appreciates Kiva lenders' consideration of these challenges and encourages lenders to continue their support for Iraqi borrowers.
About Relief International Iraq
Relief International (RI) is a non-profit non-sectarian organization with a multifaceted approach to working in post-conflict, vulnerable and transitional countries. As part of its core mission to bridge emergency relief with long-term development though sustainable, enterprise-oriented solutions, RI directs a broad microfinance portfolio in the Middle East and South Asia. In Iraq, RI microfinance has been providing access to capital for micro, small and medium enterprises since 2006. When lending through RI, there are several points to consider:
1. RI-Iraq offers loans that are customized for borrowers in Iraq, a predominantly Muslim country. A key principle of Islam is the prohibition of charging interest on a loan. This prohibition is based on the belief that money is only a medium of exchange and has no value in itself. In order to offer loans in a manner consistent with borrowers' values, RI-Iraq charges 0% interest on this loan. However, RI-Iraq does charge a servicing fee to cover its costs. The loan amount you see listed on Kiva includes both the principal loan and the loan servicing fees. As with all Kiva loans, you should expect to have your funds returned to you according to this loan’s repayment schedule. For more information on lending in the Muslim world, please click here.
2. Because of on-going security concerns, due diligence on RI-Iraq was conducted remotely, rather than in-person as is typical with most Kiva Field Partners. RI-Iraq does, however, meet all of the other minimum criteria required by Kiva's full due diligence.
3. One of the challenges of lending to entrepreneurs in Iraq is the increased chance of difficulty transferring funds between the United States, where Kiva is based, and Iraq. While Kiva has been able to send and receive funds to and from Iraq in the past, there is a chance that we may encounter problems doing so in the future. This could result in difficulty repaying loan funds to lenders, even if individual borrowers have paid back their loans. As a lender to borrowers in Iraq, you would be taking on this additional risk.