Awatef is the owner of a beauty salon, a hair dresser and beautician, a wife, and a mother of two children. She is 48 years old and has faced many challenges. She not only tackled them but also made the best of them. When safety and security issues were putting many families in danger in Iraq, Awatef and her family had left the country to stay in neighboring for Syria and Lebanon for a while. While out of the country, she decided to continue her education and gained knowledge of various beautician techniques unavailable in Iraq. This knowledge gave a little advantage, but she certainly had to walk her career path step-by-step.
At first she worked in a beauty salon, where she worked for a wage for about 4 years. She then decided to work on her own and start to slowly build up her own clientele working from home. After about 2 years of working out of her home she was able to open a Salon on her own. The Beauty Salon has now been in operation for 4 years. Awatef provides a range of services to her female customers, who - in addition to receiving their hair and beauty treatments - can also see and experience first hand how a woman can grow a business, and how a woman can grow in the eyes of society.
Managing a beauty salon may not seem like a unique task or a world changing endeavor, but it is indeed. Because behind the walls of the salon there are many opportunities, behind the walls is a hard working women, behind the walls is place where women have a chance to learn from each other, behind the walls is a role model for opportunities to grow.
Awatef is now ready for her next step and further growth as she started to expand her business, and she already started the construction works on the new room to be added as an area for new services: a special area for brides to get ready, a corner for facial peeling, and even some fitness equipment.
Awatef's growing business and her positive attitude qualified her to participate in the WLIFT program and her business is taking a SME loan in the amount of 14,000 for the expansion works and interior finishes.
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.
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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