• Rafal Abdulateef | Senior Public Information Assistant

In a land where history whispers from every corner, Mesopotamia has been always considered a land of opportunities and work since ancient times. Today, a new chapter of resilience and entrepreneurship is being written amid the challenges of post-conflict recovery, and these three business owners are a testament to this.

Land of Civilization Sewing Factory: Weaving the past into the future

Salam is an electromechanical engineer by training, and a successful businessman by devotion who runs a sewing factory. When Salam was a student, he worked at the same time in a clothing store in the Karrada area in central Baghdad. Clothes and fashion were his passions, which prompted him to work on establishing his own clothing sewing project after graduation.

“I started my sewing project in 2018 when I was still working as an engineer after graduation. My dream has always been to open my own business, and I have worked hard to achieve it,” said Salam

Salam was focusing on creating a distinctive Iraqi industry. At the beginning of his career, he used to send his designs to sewing factories in Türkiye, and once he received the ready products, he sold them in Iraq.  However, the production process was time-consuming and expensive. Costly shipment and long production time made Salam to think of his own project.  

Salam started establishing his own  clothing sewing factory, but he didn’t have enough resources to finally make his dream come true.  In 2020, he learned about IOM’s Enterprise Development Fund and received a grant.  With the help of the grant, Salam set up a proper factory, allowing him to  create new designs and produce more and better quality, meeting the growing demand. 

 Salam is happy that he managed to move the production to Iraq: “I  love my homeland and the Iraqi identity in  clothing manufacturing. Before receiving  the grant, I had ten workers, and now I have 19 workers. It helped speed up the processing of orders. 

Salam is now in the process of establishing cooperation with Amazon’s branch in the United Kingdom to proudly display his goods labeled “Made in Iraq” and familiarize people living in different countries with Iraqi products.

Kawthar Al-Rahman Kindergarten: Developing the potential in every child.

Kawthar Al-Rahman kindergarten is now a safe place for children with autism spectrum disorder where they are taught to succeed.

Not long time ago, it was a regular kindergarten in a remote area. Driven by her commitment to inclusive education, Samira, the kindergarten owner, decided to make her dream come true.

She has created a space where differences are celebrated, and every child's potential is nurtured. Thanks to IOM’s Enterprise Development Fund, she has established a nurturing environment that promotes growth, learning,and acceptance.


 Samira’s initiative managed to fulfill wishes of many parents who wanted to  have a section for children with autism within the kindergarten, especially since the presence of such sections is in areas very far from the families’ residence, in addition to the high transportation costs. In consideration of this, Samira received every child who needed special care and made an exception by not receiving institute allocations from families who do not have the financial ability to pay.

Samira says, “The autism department needs special curricula, male and female trainers specializing in psychology and sociology, in addition to their own educational means and specific amenities such as furniture, chairs, illustrations, and toys. These are very expensive because these children are not like any other children, as they need great attention and special care, which also means that caregivers should have different and higher wages.”

The kindergarten was established in 2000, which makes establishing a section for children with autism inside the kindergarten a great challenge. The kindergarten needs efforts, renovations, and special arrangements to create an environment suitable for children with autism.

Samira sees daily that autistic children feel happy in her kindergarten and interact positively with the rest of their classmates. Thanks to the IOM Enterprise Development Fund grant, which was supported by the Korea International Cooperation Agency, the department was equipped with all the necessary materials to provide a child-friendly environment.

“I was optimistic from the beginning when I received the grant, which allowed me to hire 7 new employees while the department. The grant also contributed to my participation in a workshop to improve marketing, which helped expand the work further, as my humanitarian duty will continue to help children who have autism,” Samira concluded.

Dar Al-Saffar for Printing and Publishing: Expanding children’s imagination

Fawaz, a fourty-eight-old visionary behind Dar Al-Saffar for Printing and Publishing and editor-in-chief of My Friends Magazine, has dedicated his expertise to a magazine that cares about Iraqi children. These magazines serve as portals to worlds of wonders and promote the love of reading and learning among Iraqi children.


“This is the family’s profession, as my father was one of the pioneers of journalism and worked in many local newspapers. He had a publishing house called (Al-Safir) and it was interested in children’s culture. After that, I decided to change the name in 2018 to the family name (Al-Saffar)."

"The magazine was named (My Friends) after childhood friends whom we are still friends with, even though most of them live outside Iraq.Our friendship continues, and, proudly, I decided to name the magazine by this name." Fawaz continued

Dar Al-Saffar for Printing and Publishing used to print materials outside Iraq, but after receiving IOM’s Enterprise Development Fund, supported by the KfW Development Bank, it became possible to print magazines inside Iraq. This helped reduce the expenses that Fawaz had to bear for printing and shipping from outside Iraq. The number of employees also increased from four to ten, which saved a lot of effort. Publishing became faster, and the printing quality was high so that children could enjoy reading the magazine.

Fawaz added, “Through the “Improve Your Business” course, I will develop the publishing and distribution process to reach every child. One of these plans is to deliver these publications to Iraqi communities living abroad in the United States of America and Europe. There are many Iraqi children who live abroad and need to practice their mother language.

The support provided by IOM;s Enterprise Development Fund and the strategic insights he gained from the training designed by the International Labor Organization (ILO) has enabled Fawaz to expand his outreach, ensuring that the seeds of knowledge he sows today will flourish into children’s leaders of tomorrow.

The support provided by IOM does not end with the Enterprise Development Fund grant, but rather aims to develop the capabilities of the supported businesses to be ready for investment in the future. This is done by enhancing their project management skills through banking awareness sessions and training sessions on work standards that include various topics, such as business registration, labor law, and occupational safety. In addition, it offers project improvement courses on various topics, such as marketing, record keeping and accounting, business planning, in addition to mentoring and other project development services.

Salam, Samira and Fawaz took part in the Improve Your Business (Marketing) course, which aims to enhance their entrepreneurship skills and increase sales by attracting and retaining customers. They learned the importance of corporate marketing and gained insights into strategically positioning their products in the market. Furthermore, they had a deep dive into marketing key elements and got guidance on identifying and finding new markets for their products and services.

Participation in IOM activities, including training and workshops, not only enhances participants' knowledge and develops their skills, but also strengthens business relationships with other business owners. These activities help in communicating with companies at different stages of their value chainm which Salam, Samira and Fawaz know firsthand. For female entrepreneurs, who often have fewer market opportunities, these activities help create communication channels and networks between them.

SDG 4 - Quality Education
SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities