24 Mar 2022

Najmadin Mohamed, 34, comes from Chamchamal — a town in Sulaymaniyah Governorate, Kurdistan Region of Iraq. After graduating from accounting school in 2013, he struggled to find work and spent several years in a taxing, low-paid job. Eventually he learned about the Individual Livelihood Assistance (ILA) Programme run by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The ILA allowed Najmadin to get important tools so that he could run his own business, which is still active today.

“It’s extremely hard to find work in Chamchamal. In Sulaymaniyah, you can easily find work in the bazaar, but Chamchamal is a very small town, and no one needs additional workers; everyone manages their stores and carts with their cousins and relatives.

I have a diploma in accounting, but I was never able to work with my degree. My first job after graduation in 2013 was in an administration role at a security company. They treated us like slaves at that job – we had to shave every day and they docked our salaries for the smallest mistakes. I hated that job, but I stayed for four years. After that, I worked in a photocopying store for IQD 10,000 a day. The pay was very little, and I could barely meet my daily needs, so I got a second job assisting a man who owned a food and tea cart in the Chamchamal bazaar.

In 2018, my brother told me about the IOM livelihood assistance programme, and I applied. I was selected, and they asked me what I needed in order to provide myself a livelihood. I chose a three-wheeled motorcycle. I planned to use the vehicle as a mobile shop to sell household items in residential neighbourhoods. That didn’t work out. Instead, I made money with the motorcycle by renting it for transporting goods in the bazaar.

I made money with the motorcycle in this way until recently, when the owner of the food and tea cart decided to go to Europe and sell his cart. With the money I’d collected from renting the motorcycle, I managed to buy the cart from him for USD 1,600.

The assistance from IOM is very helpful to me, not only because I collected enough money with the motorcycle to afford the cart and [rent the parking spot], but because I use the motorcycle to transport food and other necessary items from my home to the cart every day. Without that vehicle, I would have to buy another one, which would cost me at least a thousand dollars.

My life is good now. I serve chickpea soup and tea during the winter and ice cream during the summer, and it provides me with a decent livelihood. Although the work stopped for a while during the COVID-19 lockdown, it’s slowly getting back on track, and I’ve been able to hire my brother here, too. I went from receiving IQD 10,000 a day to [being able to] give my brother that amount, so I can’t complain.

I’ve considered opening a similar cart in Sulaymaniyah; there are more customers, and [I can] make more money there, but I checked for spaces a few times, and there weren’t any available in the bazaar. If I ever find an available spot, I will either move my cart to Sulaymaniyah or buy a second one there.”

Najmadin received ILA from IOM Iraq, with support from the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.

SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities