A project was launched in Suleimaniyah in northern Iraq, which seeks to help young entrepreneurs open their businesses in a single bazaar, in an attempt to reduce unemployment and boost the economy.
In the city of Suleimaniyah, one of the major cities located in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) along with Erbil, a new programme for young people has been implemented as part of a new measure to address youth unemployment and poverty.
Entitled the “Low-Price House”, the initiative, which is led by a local council in Suleimaniyah, allows young people to set up their own business in local areas in order to get a foothold into the business world and the commerce of local markets.
Many of those setting up businesses are selling locally produced Kurdish handicrafts and food.
“In this project, there are 21 shops of different works, such as handcraft and Kurdish cuisine,” said Farhad Qadir, the head of the council overseeing the project. “We hope this project will be a good start for small business owners.”
According to a survey in late 2018, more than 20% of those between 18 and 34 were out of work, with many reporting that they had lost hope in finding employment.
The survey was compiled by the Kurdistan Region Statistics Office (KRSO), the United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA), and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The wider report also detailed population demographics, income levels and education levels.
The initiative implemented in Suleimaniyah aims both to reduce levels of actual unemployment, but also provide hope for young people in finding new work and jobs.
“This project creates job opportunities for shop owners who are graduates of universities and institutes,” said Sarour Ro’ouf, a shop owner. “They may not find a job, so they come here to open projects so they can rely on themselves.”
The micro-financing element, which provides a small amount of money to the young people to begin their work, is also being tested in other places of Iraq with local projects, including Mosul and the wider Nineveh Province in northern Iraq.
While the money does not completely cover costs, the aim is to relieve the burden on local people when starting their businesses and kickstart their projects.
“These are small projects to increase income. Most of these projects are successful because the rents are suitable and the supply and demand do not affect much the shop owners,” said Manal al-Saad, a shop owner. “We are doing such projects in malls because of the large number of people and the increase in marketing.”