Through private sector growth and job creation, USAID is helping Iraq’s vulnerable communities become more adaptive, resolve conflict, and enhance livelihoods.

Project Snapshot

  • Main objectives: To advance the economic well-being and increase the adaptive capacity of vulnerable communities. 

  • Geographic areas: Anbar, Baghdad, Basrah, Dhi Qar, Dohuk, Erbil, and Ninewa

  • Budget: $125 million 

  • Project Duration: September 2019 - September 2024

  • Implementing Partner: Chemonics International 


From sliding global oil prices and ongoing social and political instability to the spread of COVID-19 adding extra strain on public services and resources, Iraq faces many challenges to enhancing stability and prosperity. Finding a way to break free of this cycle of fragility requires investing in local economic development that supports thriving businesses, creates jobs, and improves the livelihoods of Iraq’s most vulnerable communities.

USAID Response

The Durable Communities and Economic Opportunities (DCEO) project, known in Arabic as Tahfeez, meaning motivation, helps Iraq’s vulnerable communities become more adaptive, resolve conflict, and enhance livelihoods through local private sector growth and job creation.  

Business Competitiveness and Job Creation Initiative 

DCEO/Tahfeez is working with micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to support the development a more business-friendly ecosystem, identify barriers to growth, and advocate collectively for policy changes that address these challenges. As the name Tahfeez implies, the project also seeks to expand opportunities for young Iraqi entrepreneurs to access tailored support, including cutting-edge business incubation services and in-kind grants, to help accelerate the growth of their businesses. Tahfeez also works with Iraqi business associations to strengthen private sector networks, while applying international best practices, and advocate for improved access to finance. Finally, through the Marla Ruzicka Iraqi War Victims Fund, the project is supporting eligible individuals through entrepreneurship, business acceleration, and enterprise growth services.

100 Solutions for Stability 

DCEO/Tahfeez is working with selected communities impacted by conflict to develop locally-driven processes for identifying and resolving tensions sustainably and peacefully through inclusive community dialogue sessions and other practical solutions. Using tailored technical assistance, including skill building and facilitation support to match each community’s needs, the project aims to contribute to long-term, local stability. The project is also providing training and networking services to Iraqi victims of war through the Marla Ruzicka Iraqi War Victims Fund to help them gain high-quality and sustainable livelihoods.

Results to Date 

  • $732,000 of in-kind assistance to 20 small and medium-sized enterprises resulted in over $10 million increase in collective sales and more than 215 jobs secured in 2021.
  • Through the Marla Ruzicka Iraqi War Victims Fund, DCEO/Tahfeez has provided in-kind assistance to five businesses in Ninewa, creating 57 job opportunities for survivors or conflict. DCEO/Tahfeez has also provided livelihood support to over 400 innocent victims of war in northern Iraq.
  • Over 260 entrepreneurs received business development training through incubation and acceleration programs.
  • DCEO/Tahfeez facilitated a $2 million investment into a local food delivery start-up, creating over 150 new job opportunities in the industry.
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