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Shlair is a true role model for Iraqi women, a great entrepreneur driving positive change in conservative communities. She started a business 16 years ago that is still dominated by men till today. Shlair is the owner of a driving school that she built in a simple, step-by-step process, gaining the respect of her family and her community, showing an attainable business model to many.

Shlair is a 48-year-old wife and a mother of three children. Her elementary studies didn’t discourage her from becoming a qualified – senior instructor based on her long experience and participation in various training courses to stay up-to-date with new techniques. She even attended a 5-day training course in Amman, Jordan to gain up-to-date experience that is not available in her town and country. Moreover, she’s a qualified instructor and trainer for trucks and not only small cars.

Her professional start was not easy; like most Iraqi women, the biggest challenge she faced was the acceptance and trust of her community in her abilities as a driving teacher/trainer, not only for men, but women as well. Thus, she was determined on proving herself and being a role model who can compete with men. To date, she has trained about 5,000 women and more than 10,000 men.

Another challenge she faced was lack of capital, but as an entrepreneur, she was able to manage her business by attracting experienced drivers to join her driving school, using their own cars, after modifying and preparing the cars. This thing helped her to increase the numbers of students and grow her business, although most of the income was for the cars’ owners. Shlair is satisfied with this because she believes that she is creating job opportunities and helping them earn income. So far, she has created 10 job opportunities; three of them are for women, and she is looking forward to increasing this number.

Shlair’s growing business and her positive attitude qualified her to participate in the WLIFT program and her business is taking out an SME loan in the amount of $20,000 to buy a driving school training car.

As she explains with her own words in the video: My name is Shlair, I was born in 1966 and I have three children. I have been in this business for around 15 years. I’m facing two main challenges; the first challenge is lack of capital and the second challenge is the culture in my town which makes it not easy for women to drive a car and to be a driving trainer. We have trained around 5000 women student drivers and around 12,000 to 13,000 men. There are 13 people receiving income from my driving school. I participated in this program (WLIFT) to learn management and economics.

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