Alleviating Poverty Through Economic Empowerment
Avan, a widow and mother, runs a small sewing and tailoring business inside her home in Iraq. She uses her sewing skills to bring supplemental income to her family and to help support the health needs of her young son with kidney disease, who must be taken to dialysis every three months.
Avan would not have been able to grow her business without the help of a loan from Relief International’s Microfinance program and global lenders investing through Kiva. With this support, she has already been able to successfully complete her first loan repayment, as do the majority of the clients who borrow through Relief International’s Microfinance program. Now, Avan has obtained a second loan to buy an embroidery machine and necessary raw materials in hopes of expanding her business further.
Recently, Kiva.org, a person-to-person online micro-lending website, and Relief International Microfinance partnered together to provide better economic opportunities to Iraqis by administering micro loans to borrowers who want to grow their businesses in trades, services, and agriculture. Since launching the partnership in December 2011, lenders from around the world have provided $207,000 (USD) in loans which have been made out to 51 individual clients, 31 of whom are female clients, in addition to 33 small groups of women, totaling 100 borrowers.
"Our partnership with Kiva has been transformational through allowing the rest of the world to engage with the Iraqi entrepreneurial community in a meaningful way,” says Csilla Budai, who is responsible for coordinating the Kiva fundraising cycle in Relief International Microfinance Iraq, “Lenders to RI- Microfinance Iraq clients come from around the world, helping Iraqi entrepreneurs build better livelihoods.”
Kiva decided to partner with Relief International Microfinance due to its strong social focus and proven ability to target areas of great economic need. Relief International Microfinance programs are driven by understanding that providing small businesses access to growth capital is a major contributor to socioeconomic development in developing nations.
Relief International has been present in Iraq since 2006, providing loans to individual and small groups of borrowers and today has a value of outstanding loans totaling over $10 million (USD). Relief International has established itself as a leader in providing micro loans to entrepreneurs in Iraq who otherwise are excluded from receiving loans due to their size and lack of collateral.
Relief international’s partnership with Kiva allows for the expansion of the program’s lending capacity so that more segments of the economy can be reached. Loan sizes range from $500-3,000 (USD) and the repayment term is typically about 12 months. To this day, many of the microfinance clients from Relief International featured with Kiva have borrowed and successfully repaid past loans.
In order to offer the public unique insight into a side of Iraqi economic sector that is often overlooked by the common media, personal borrower stories are posted on the Kiva website where people can learn how their loans directly impact borrowers. These borrowers are the faces behind a developing economy, all coming from different backgrounds with unique stories, but joined by the common goal of improving their livelihoods and bettering their future through business.
To read the press release announcing the partnership between Relief International and Kiva, please click here
Photo Caption: Srwa is a 40-year-old successful seamstress and tailor with twelve years of experience in the field. She is a married Iraqi woman who enjoys her work and is proud of her accomplishments.
Srwa started working at a young age. Now using her well-developed sewing skills, she makes beautiful dresses and household items.
Srwa has obtained a loan from RI-Iraq and is using it to improve her work area and purchase quality fabric and other notions to better serve her customers' needs.
To learn more about Kiva’s programs with Relief International, and to read stories about borrowers like Srwa, CLICK HERE.
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