Marwa Ahmed’s normal life ended in 2006 when her father was killed and her family fled to Syria in the midst of the violence that then gripped Iraq. Eventually, she and her three siblings returned to Baghdad.
“I was proud of being Iraqi and just wanted to live peacefully in my own country,” she remembers.
But they found themselves living a life of penniless desperation. With money borrowed from her sister who worked as a dentist, Marwa eventually earned a degree in computer science from the Baghdad University for Economic Science in 2010, but none of her job interviews resulted in employment.
In 2011, Ahmed’s life began to improve when she was accepted into the Iraqi Youth Initiative, part of the USAID-Tijara Provincial Economic Growth Program. The initiative’s Youth Entrepreneurship Access to Finance program introduces aspiring business owners to microfinance companies able to fund promising startups.
People like Ahmed, who simply want a job, receive business skills training through the Youth Employment Program and are referred to private Iraqi companies willing to provide internships.
“I studied English, resume writing and how to conduct myself at a job interview,” says Ahmed. “But the most important thing I gained was confidence.”
After completing her training, Ahmed was referred to the International Iraqi Company for Exhibitions and Conferences, where a public relations apprenticeship led to a permanent job putting together trade shows, business directories and ad campaigns for companies like Kia Motors and Asia Cell Telecommunications.
“I work with professionals for whom religion is not an issue, in a city growing safer by the day. Finally, I have a normal life,” says Ahmed.
The USAID-Tijara Provincial Economic Growth Program, which ran from January 2008-December 2012, promoted private sector growth and employment in Iraq.
Last updated: September 05, 2013