New Partnerships Initiative (NPI): Top Mountain

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Top Mountain Business Accelerator Entrepreneurship Workshop Iraq
Participants at a recent business accelerator workshop collaborate on a group project.
Top Mountain for USAID

USAID is providing a direct grant to Top Mountain, a local organization based in the Kurdistan region, to promote entrepreneurship and improve Iraqis’ employability and job-readiness. 

PROJECT SNAPSHOT

  • Implementing Partner: Top Mountain
  • Project Duration: September 2019 - October 2021
  • Locations: Erbil, Ninewa, and several IDP camps
  • Budget: $851,771

CONTEXT

Ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq faced persecution and suffered genocide and displacement from terrorist groups such as the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). As a result, many Christians, Yezidis, and other minority groups have fled and are currently living in camps or cities with few opportunities for pursuing education or work, and no way to return home. Local economic growth is an important element for enabling safe return and long-term recovery of persecuted minority groups, but many barriers stand in the way, particularly for women and youth. Without the necessary skills and resources, these communities struggle to successfully enter the workforce or start their own businesses, which can contribute to improved livelihoods for themselves and their families, and greater social stability for all.

USAID RESPONSE

By increasing economic and employment opportunities, USAID promotes stability and encourages the safe return of persecuted minority groups to northern Iraq. Through the New Partnerships Initiative (NPI), USAID is providing a direct grant to Top Mountain, a local organization based in the Kurdistan region. Top Mountain promotes entrepreneurship and improves Iraqis’ employability and job readiness through initiatives that include a business incubator and a youth-focused employment program.   In partnership with USAID Top Mountain provides Iraqi youth, including those from persecuted minority groups and in Internally-Displaced Person (IDP) camps, with entrepreneurial support, business training in technical and soft skills, and important networking opportunities that enable local economic growth. In addition, the Top Mountain program recently launched a Business Accelerator project to provide grants to 15 micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises in Iraq to develop and grow their businesses and recover from COVID-19.

ACHIEVEMENTS TO DATE

  • Nearly 800 individuals have participated in the business training program. 
  • Female participation nearly doubled when training shifted online due to COVID-19 (currently at 45 percent). This has also allowed for more Iraqis living in remote areas to participate. 
  • Training participants are consistently highly satisfied with Top Mountain training sessions in terms of quality and relevance of topics covered. 
  • Over 33,200 Iraqis follow the Top Mountain Facebook page, an important source of on program updates and training opportunities.

 

Last updated: November 13, 2020

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