Reber Najat Taha was a medical school student well on his way to becoming a physician when he had an epiphany. His life-changing moment occurred during a “How to Start Your Own Business” course at Erbil’s Women’s Empowerment Organization. “I’d finished merchandise inventory and cost accounting and was midway through a lecture on marketing when I realized I was born to be a businessman not a doctor,” Reber says. “Instead of selling medical skills, I knew I’d be happier offering people high-quality merchandise at an affordable price.”
One of 14 Small Business Development Centers operating in Iraq with assistance from the USAID-Tijara Provincial Economic Growth Program, the Women’s Empowerment Organization helps potential entrepreneurs find their place in the private sector economy. Reber’s mentors helped him refine a business plan to sell hi-tech products in stores by offering knowledgeable customer assistance and one-year warranties, benefits not widely available in Iraq.
Reber contacted a Chinese electronics manufacturer, became its exclusive agent in Iraq, and began selling computers, laptops and LCD display panels at discount prices.
Now, three years after launching his business, Reber’s Green Company has 11 retail stores in five Iraqi provinces. He employs more than 30 people and recently added televisions, air-conditioners and household appliances to his product list.
In the midst of this growth, Reber, now 24, returned to the Women’s Empowerment Organization to take a course called “How to Improve Your Business.” He learned about newspaper and radio advertising, plus the roles marketing brochures and billboards play in promoting products and store locations.
Reber’s use of advertising the Internet, with Green Company’s own site, www.green-iraq.com, is raising his firm’s visibility for its expansion into Baghdad later this year.
Last updated: August 21, 2013