Two years ago, as her children were growing older and her family’s expenses were increasing, Najah decided to open a handicrafts workshop outside her home. Now, thanks to her passion for her craft and growing business, in addition to supporting her own family, she employs two other women, thereby enabling them to support their families.
Najah makes beautiful accessories and decor for weddings and social events, specializing in handmade ceramic flowers displayed on plates and in vases. Each life-like sculpture takes approximately six to eight hours to make, and Najah is constantly testing new flowers and innovating her technique. Najah further develops her skills by attending specialized courses and browsing the Internet for inspiration and trends in crafts and art.
To expand her growing business, Najah is taking a SME loan in the amount of 10,000 USD. She will use this loan to move production and sales to a new location in a commercial area with a larger workshop and a showroom to market her one-of-a-kind pieces, an investment that will hopefully drive up sales and inventory. She also plans to hire more women to work with her, training them in her unique craft and economically empowering the women in her community.
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.
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.
This loan is to a borrower who faces unique economic challenges due to the ongoing conflict in Iraq, as they live in an area that continues to be affected by the political and economic obstacles in the country.
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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