Putting the Future into Focus

Speeches Shim

Tuesday, January 18, 2022
Um Razan shooting photos at a client's house during a wedding ceremony

As a child growing up in Fallujah, Um Razan, 31, would often sneak away to take pictures around town using her father’s old camera. What was once a childhood hobby has grown into a lifelong passion for photography. 

The occupation of ISIS in her city kept Um Razan indoors, but she never stopped developing her skills. Instead of wandering the neighborhood shooting photos, she would spend hours on YouTube and other online courses learning about photography, how to use digital cameras, and dreamed of a day when she could build a career taking photos.

After the liberation from ISIS in 2017, Um Razan started taking wedding photos for friends and family, and eventually created a Facebook business page where she could offer her services to a broader audience. 

But this was not without its challenges. Um Razan had trouble managing her growing business, including expanding her client base through social media.. “In the beginning, things were very difficult, but I persistently pursued my dream to be one of the most skilled photographers in Anbar, and to be an example for other women to be ambitious and achieve their dreams,” she said. 

Um Razan landscape
Landscape photo from Um Razan's professional portfolio.

When she came across USAID’s program for small businesses in Anbar, Um Razan saw an opportunity to grow her business and improve her skills. Um Razan took courses in business management, e-marketing, customer service, and financial management. She also worked closely with a mentor to improve her business model. “I learned a lot of new skills. The biggest benefit was the e-marketing sessions. I learned how to better promote my business through Facebook and my profit now increased four times than I used to earn.”

Since completing the program, Um Razan has nearly tripled her monthly clients and has almost quadrupled her income. “Thanks to USAID for offering me this fruitful opportunity,” she said. 


Last updated: May 10, 2022

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