Young Iraqis Receive Grants to Kickstart Their Businesses

November 17, 2021

Ajyal Hassein, 34, now has funding to start the first-ever fitness center for women in Bashiqa. Photo: UNDP Iraq

16-17 November 2021: Twenty innovative business ideas driven by young people from Kirkuk and Mosul have received a grant of US$ 5,000 each today. This will help kick-start their business ideas and boost the local start-up system. The startups include unique solutions to smart home systems, women’s health and wellbeing, taxi services for women and environmentally friendly architecture.

It is a part of the 'Youth Innovation and Creativity Award' project implemented by the Kurdistan Organization for Human Rights Watch (KOHRW) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with funding from the Government of Canada. The project focuses on providing small grants and mentorship to young people and their business ideas.

Kanyaw Wali Ali from Kirkuk receives her business grant. Photo: UNDP Iraq

On the overall experience, 31-year-old Kanyaw Wali Ali from Kirkuk said, “Thanks to the exposure through this project, I learned a lot about project development. I also picked up social networking skills and made new friendships and potential new business partnerships.” She will use the grant to start a premium pastry and sweet shop.

While 32-year-old Mustafa Faris Abdullah from Mosul added, “I enjoyed being part of this project, as I had a chance to learn, fine-tune my ideas and gain the much-needed confidence to start my own business.” He hopes to start an architecture agency to provide interior and exterior design services.

Mustafa Faris Abdullah from Mosul received the cash grant. Photo: UNDP Iraq

“Through this experience, I enjoyed the positive and forward-looking approach to the mentorship. I now feel confident about my skills to become a successful entrepreneur,” said 33-year-old Muhannad Khader Yousef from Mosul. He will use the grant to start a specialized men's tailoring unit in Mosul.

The process of selection included a transparent application process, followed by a jury selection and an intensive mentorship programme. The project received over 6,000 business ideas. Of which, 100 were selected and provided mentorship. They were grouped into 35 teams to further fine-tune their business proposal. Finally, the top 20 most viable business solutions were awarded the grant. Each team comprised of 2-3 members each, of which 40 percent of them were women. 

About the Project: 

This project was implemented through UNDP’s flagship programme Funding Facility for Stabilization (FFS) in partnership with the Kurdistan Organization for Human Rights Watch (KOHRW) and generous funding from the Government of Canada. 

In 2015, UNDP established FFS to facilitate the return of displaced Iraqis after the ISIL conflict, lay the groundwork for reconstruction and recovery, and safeguard against the resurgence of violence and extremism. To date, FFS has provided over 3,400 business grants and more than 6,000 cash grants to women-headed households.