Supporting entrepreneurship and business development for the reinforcement of economic growth in Basra under UNDP-Shell Partnership

Workshop on establishing small businesses and financial literacy in Basra. Photo: UNDP Iraq/2017

Basra, June 2017- Over 65 potential Iraqi entrepreneurs have been recently trained on establishing small businesses, business management and financial literacy under the UNDP-Shell Partnership in Basra, South of Iraq. 


  • 65 potential entrepreneurs from Basra learned about financial management, evaluation of business ideas, marketing and more
  • “The workshop helped me to think of a future for my shop,” said Hamza Sami, owner of barbershop in Al Dair
  • Over 35 small-scale businesses that are relevant to the local market will benefit from the Livelihoods Project

The Partnership launched a new phase of its Livelihoods Project earlier this year. It aims to help communities in Basra’s sub-districts of Al Nashwah and Al Dair with employment and sustainable income generation activities through financial and non-financial support to business start-ups and existing small-scale businesses.

During two five-day workshops held from 13-22 May 2017, men, women and youth gathered in both sub-districts to learn about financial management, evaluation of business ideas, profit planning, marketing and more. Business ideas included women’s beauty parlors, supermarkets, automotive repairs and carpentry workshops. Participants conducted thorough analyses of these ideas on which the financial and technical support of the Livelihoods Project will be based.

Beneficiaries of the earlier phase of this Project were invited to participate in the workshops to refresh their business skills and knowledge. Ms. Karima, who was supported to establish a minimarket, shared her experience with the UNDP-Shell Partnership and the impact it had on her life and level of income. Ms. Karima explained to the participants that her business is now thriving and self-sustaining, after receiving support from UNDP on the needed inputs to launch her business (decorations, equipment and goods) and being capacitated on bookkeeping and market analysis. The new applicants found her story inspiring.

“The workshop helped me to think of a future for my shop, and base my work on economic theories and skills that we have just learned,” said Hamza Sami, who owns a small barbershop in Al Dair.

Prior to launching the Livelihoods Project, consultations with the local councils and community members of the two sub-districts identified support for income generation activities as a priority. This came in response to challenges such as low youth employment, lack of work stability, low labour force participation, and unsustainable hiring by the public sector. 

Less than 50% of Basra’s population is in the labour force. Existing businesses in Al Nashwah and Al Dair are not systematically based on market demand or feasibility studies. Furthermore, the lack of necessary components such as management skills and access to credit has been a major obstacle to viability improvement and income generation potential of existing businesses.

In January 2017, the Livelihoods Project started a comprehensive market assessment that consisted of market mapping, gap analysis, and analysis of market size, trends, and opportunities in Al Nashwah and Al Dair. This was followed by a transparent and inclusive call for applications from the communities in the two sub-districts, provision of business development skills training to potential entrepreneurs, and evaluation of business ideas.

With a focus on promoting youth and women in business, the implementation of the Project is based on strict selection criteria. It aims to benefit over 35 small-scale businesses that are relevant to the local market and can create further employment.

“Very few women work in my village, so my beauty and cosmetics shop will be the first there,” said Ms. Zahra Bandar, a widow and mother of five from Al Nashwah. “I needed this kind of training to teach me how to calculate profit, attract customers and keep my business a success. I am very excited to review everything I learned here and to start working on opening my shop.”

Once the selection process is complete, each selected participant will produce a detailed plan for the needs of their business. Financial support will focus on the provision of equipment, goods, and additional assistance that the assessment determines necessary for participants to open and operate their businesses. Participants will also receive non-financial support that includes further in-depth training on entrepreneurial and business development skills. 

To ensure sustainability throughout 2017, UNDP-Shell Partnership will engage in regular follow-up and monitoring of the progress of businesses, and provision of information to connect participants to respective local services and potential sources for credit and/or savings. The Partnership will also work on identifying training or skills development needs.

These interventions adopt lessons learned from the success of the first phase of the Livelihoods Project that supported many beneficiaries to expand businesses and employ members of their community in Basra, and accordingly deserved Shell’s CEO Excellence Award for social performance. 

The UNDP-Shell Partnership was launched in 2012 to build participatory planning and local area development capacity, and implement respective activities in communities near the Majnoon Oil Field in the Governorate of Basra, South of Iraq. The Partnership also aims to enable high quality vocational training and support the micro, small, and medium enterprise environment.

Achieving decent work and economic growth is one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that aim to tackle the most pressing challenges facing our world by 2030, including poverty, climate change and conflict.

Since its launch, UNDP-Shell Partnership successfully carried out initiatives across Basra, enabling more inclusive sub-district development planning processes and generating economic opportunities for local communities including women, youth and people with disabilities. 




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