Asthi is a 45-year-old Iraqi woman, married and a mother of four children. With limited career options due to cultural restrictions and domestic constraints, Asthi is one of the many Iraqi woman who is working from home, using her sewing skills to generate some income and participate in meeting the financial needs of her family.
Asthi has 13 years' experience with the small, home-based sewing and tailoring activity, making dresses for women and children as well as household items made of fabric, based on her clients' orders. She would like to improve her little business. One of her priorities is to purchase a good table as a base for the sewing machine which is currently placed on a large plastic cooler and as she works, she sits on the floor beside it. She would also like to buy an embroidery machine to improve her creative offers and buy small furniture items to better organize her work and materials.
To be able to pay for these purchases, Asthi took a loan from Relief International Microfinance Iraq in the amount of 1800 USD.
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.