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Zainab, a 40-year-old mother, is a persistent, self-made woman. Following her divorce four years ago, she has been the sole caregiver and provider for her two children. Three years ago, faced with the challenge of generating sufficient income to support herself and her family, Zainab risked her only asset to become an entrepreneur. She sold a small piece of land, the only property she owned, in order to start her small beauty salon and fitness center.

The road to success has been far from easy for Zainab. Unfortunately, her first choice of location was not ideal and she learned an important lesson about the significance of location in the success of a small and medium enterprises. Two years ago, after careful study, she was able to move her business to its current location, which has had positive results.

Thanks to her improved financial and social status, Zainab has been able to send her son to private school. Most important, now that the business and family are on their feet, Zainab is looking for basic education classes for her 18-year-old daughter, who has not been in school due to her duties with the family and business.

Zainab’s business has created two job opportunities for women, and she hopes to employ more as her business grows. Her growing business and willingness to learn and develop her business skills qualified her to participate in the WLIFT program and borrow a $12,000 SME loan from Relief International Microfinance Iraq. With the loan she plans to expand her business by adding distinct spaces for fitness and beauty and purchasing more equipment.

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. 

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 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

  • $3,600
    Average annual income
  • 0
    View loans »
    Iraq Loans Fundraising
  • $9,309,650
    Funds lent in using Kiva
  • US Dollars
    Loan transacted in USD
Paying Back

This loan has been fully funded!

A loan of $12,000 helped Zainab to expand her business by adding distinct spaces for fitness and beauty and purchasing more equipment.
50% repaid
Repayment Term
20 months (Additional Information)
Repayment Schedule
May 22, 2014
Jun 9, 2014
Currency Exchange Loss: