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Wafa is a small business owner in south Iraq. An ambitious entrepreneur, despite traditional roles and cultural norms, she started her business at the age of 42. With limited career options due to cultural restrictions and domestic constraints, Wafa 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.

Wafa is now 47 years old, a mother of five children. Since her divorce she provides for the family alone. She started her business on a very small scale five years ago and since than it has been steadily growing, attracting new clients, adding new services, and additional machines to her work-space.

Wafa is living in the south of Iraq where, despite relative stability over the past years, conflicts, safety and security issues still complicate life. But Wafa is determined to provide for her family and works hard in her sewing shop day after day. As the pictures show, she mostly works on dresses for women, making the typical home ware dresses that are usually colorful, comfortable and decorated with work-intense details.

Wafa started her business five years ago and since than it has been steadily growing attracting new clients with her detailed oriented, quality work. Although her business is still relatively small, her hard work and the potential for growth qualifies her to participate in the WLIFT project and also take a business loan from Relief International Microfinance Iraq.

She would like to use her loan of $5000 to improve the workshop by renovating it, expanding it, and buying a new sewing machine, and a small generator - all to ensure she can work more efficiently, plan her work better, and provide better and faster services. In addition, she also plans to buy some nice quality fabrics and raw materials with the remaining amount after purchasing the larger goods.

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.

Additional Information

More information about this loan

This loan is part of the WLIFT program (Women Leveraging the Internet for Financial Transformation), a partnership between Kiva, microfinance institution Relief International, the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and the U.S. State Department. The program combines customized technical assistance with loans for women-owned small and medium enterprises in Iraq to help them grow, increase their profitability, and create more stable jobs in their communities.

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.


About Iraq

  • $7,100
    Average annual income
  • 0
    View loans »
    Iraq Loans Fundraising
  • $9,342,650
    Funds lent in using Kiva
  • US Dollars
    Loan transacted in USD

Success!! The loan was 100% repaid

A loan of $5,000 helped Wafaa to improve the workshop by renovating it, expanding it, and buying a new sewing machine, and a small generator.
100% repaid
Repayment Term
20 months (Additional Information)
Repayment Schedule
Aug 1, 2013
Sep 4, 2013
Currency Exchange Loss:
Mar 27, 2015