Nisreen’s dream of running a salon started a long time ago but like most Iraqi women, she has faced many obstacles in making her dream come true. When she first wanted to work in the late 1970s, her brother prevented her from doing so, considering the idea of working in a salon to be ‘shameful’. Nisreen’s husband was supportive of her goals and after they married, she was able to begin working in the beauty sector. Nisreen still dreamed of opening her own salon but faced another challenge; a lack of capital. However, Nisreen didn’t give up and instead spent years working in a salon during the day and sewing at home in the evenings to save money. Over the years she saved enough money to finally open her own salon in 1986. The income from Nisreen’s salon now supports her whole family and she has even trained her daughter-in-law who works with her.
Nisreen wants to expand her business further by offering her clients laser hair removal, a service which is very much in demand in Iraq. She applied for an SME loan in the amount of $7,200 to enable her to purchase a laser hair removal machine.
As she explains in her own words: "My name is Nisreen, and I’ve been working in beauty salons for 34 years. My beauty salon is how my family and I make a living. I’m interested in joining the WLIFT program to learn. I want to succeed as a business woman like business women abroad and I would like to learn new things related to my work such as fashionable hairstyles."
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 IraqRelief 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.
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