Vahed is an experienced, much-respected Iraqi man. He is 40 years old, married, and a father of 4 children.
Vahed has a small, middle-eastern style fast food sandwich shop where he makes two main kinds of sandwiches: falafel (a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas and fava beans), and meat buns. Both come with a variety of vegetables and side salads. Just approaching the shop, one can almost bite the air filled with the succulent smells, creating a great appetite.
Vahed has been running the small restaurant for 5 years. He is now taking a loan from Relief International Microfinance Iraq in the amount of 2,000 USD to invest in improvements. Government regulations require little restaurants, like Vahed's, to meet a number of regulations and sanitary requirements. With the invested time and money the improvements will ensure Vahed continues to meet the requirements.
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.