For Immediate Release
USAID's Youth Initiative, which forms part of the USAID-Tijara Provincial Economic Growth Program will mark its two-year anniversary in April 2012. Since the start of the program, loans valued at $3,625,100 have enabled 1,045 young entrepreneurs to build businesses that today employ 2,220 Iraqis. The pace of job creation is increasing, with more than 1,000 new jobs created during the last quarter of 2011 thanks to microfinance loans totaling $1.63 million. The Embassy announced last week that 27 young Iraqis from Baghdad, Karbala, Wasit, Muthanna, Najaf and Dhi Qar provinces have been awarded loans worth $87,700 through the Iraqi Youth Initiative to help them start new businesses that will create an estimated 54 new jobs.
The initiative has also trained 1,222 young Iraqis in its apprentice training program over the past two years, and 690 participants have been placed in apprenticeships with local company sponsors for three months of on-the-job skills development. An additional 1,300 young Iraqis will complete similar training by the end of June 2012, and over $4.45 million more is budgeted to loan to young entrepreneurs. In all, over 3,800 individuals have benefited from the Tijara program thus far.
Funded with $12 million from the U.S. Ambassador’s Targeted Development Program, and aimed at those who are 18-35 years old, the initiative offers young Iraqi entrepreneurs business skills, entrepreneurial opportunities and the chance to qualify for loans to start their own businesses. Given high unemployment among young Iraqis, there is a clear need for a program dedicated to helping those seeking their first job or assistance starting a business of their own.
In order to become eligible for these loans, individuals undergo a rigorous selection process that includes five days of general business training, three days of private consultation, and analysis of the business plan by a Business Review Panel. The program is offered at fifteen Small Business Development Centers and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in fourteen provinces supported by USAID-Tijara.
The Iraqi Youth Initiative reflects U.S.-Iraqi cooperation under the auspices of the Strategic Framework Agreement to support private sector development and economic growth in Iraq. In accordance with the initiative’s motto – “Build a Brighter Future” – the Embassy’s assistance program is dedicated to creating sustainable employment opportunities crucial to building a more peaceful and prosperous Iraq.
Last updated: December 10, 2012