The Louis Berger Group, as U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) implementing partner, worked to develop Iraqi communities through services that stimulate business and promote greater access to loans and other financial services. The USAID-funded Tijara Provincial Economic Growth Program, concluded in March 2013, was a five-year initiative to promote private sector growth and employment in Iraq.
The program activities of Tijara, which means “trade” in Arabic, encompassed sustainable microfinance, bank lending for small and medium enterprises, business development services and training, international trade and World Trade Organization (WTO) accession, development of an enabling environment for businesses and youth entrepreneurship and employment initiatives. USAID-Tijara built on the work of USAID-Izdihar, which was implemented from 2004 to 2008.
The LBG team worked with local business associations, nongovernmental organizations, government officials and local religious leaders to advance private sector development in the country. LBG cooperated with Provincial Reconstruction Teams, U.S. agencies and international organizations to enhance the impact of Tijara through mutual support.
Among its numerous successes, the program:
- supported the development of 12 microfinance institutions (MFIs) that distributed more than 450,000 microloans worth $1.08 billion;
- enabled all 12 MFIs to report on the Microfinance Information Exchange (MIX) market internet-based platform, a global clearinghouse for promoting microfinance transparency and regional comparison of current performance and future trends;
- disbursed more than $22 million in loans to economically active vulnerable borrowers, including 55 percent from religious minority groups;
- disbursed 12,915 small- and medium-enterprise (SME) loans valued at approximately $227 million and organized workshops, seminars and conferences on lending to SMEs;
- established the Iraqi Company for Financing SMEs as a non-banking financial institution to source funds and reallocate to qualifying SME lending banks;
- provided 5,629 youths with better access to employment and entrepreneurship opportunities;
- provided substantial technical assistance to 14 small business development centers in the majority of Iraq’s governorates;
- produced new drafts of trade and bankruptcy laws that are now under consideration at different stages of the Iraqi legislative process;
- assisted the government of Iraq to prepare for and successfully complete the Second WTO Working Party Meeting on the nation’s WTO accession; and
- completed a comprehensive Assessment of Current and Anticipated Economic Priorities in Iraq in cooperation with the Prime Minister’s Advisory Commission.
Related Links: USAID-Tijara Program Website
State of Iraq's Microfinance Industry 2011 (2.39 MB) | Tijara Summary of Achievements - 1-31-2013 (95.66 KB) | Tijara - Provincial Economic Growth Program Progress Report (5.15 MB)