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GroFin hosts SME funding workshop for entrepreneurs in Mosul

The GroFin Iraq team recently hosted local entrepreneurs from Mosul at a workshop to highlight the funding opportunities and support for SMEs that GroFin offers in northern Iraq. GroFin’s Northern Iraq Investments (NII) has already invested over $1.6 million in SMEs in the region, most of this amount through a support programme offering concessionary loans to businesses affected by COVID-19.

The event was organised in collaboration with the Industrial Union in Mosul and took place at The Station Foundation for Entrepreneurship, a local co-working space established to inspire entrepreneurs with a culture of cooperation and innovation. Mohammed Al Soufi, Investment Manager from GroFin Iraq, introduced nearly 30 business owners in attendance to GroFin and NII. The team then explained NII’s purpose and the socio-economic impact it aims to achieve by supporting SMEs to create and sustain local jobs.

The audience was also introduced to GroFin’s newly approved Tier 2 – Median Programme under NII and the team explained GroFin’s loan process and the type of financing it can provide under this programme. Attendees also had the opportunity to interact with the team during a Q&A session.

Northern Iraq Investments (NII) aims to serve as a sustainable, development-impact-orientated vehicle for the provision of business support and start-up and early-stage growth capital, essential to the development of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs). Its purpose is to help grow and develop sustainable small businesses to stimulate economic growth, foster stability, and create sustainable livelihoods for the people of Iraq.

USAID, through a gift from the American people, is partnering with GroFin under the MENA II investment initiative to support and maximize the developmental impact that can be achieved through investing in SMEs in northern Iraq.

Impact of COVID-19 on Syrian refugees

While the UNCHR counts nearly 670,000 registered Syrian refugees living in Jordan, the true number of Syrians who fled there is estimated to more than double that figure. This influx of refugees has placed continuous strain on Jordan’s economy and resources and meant that economic growth was already slow when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Jordan imposed one of the strictest COVID-19 lockdowns in the world, closing its borders and forcing all but essential businesses to close for weeks. The extended disruption to business activities caused unemployment to reach record highs in 2020 and the country posted its first recession in decades. As they were already vulnerable, the crisis has affected refugees most severely. For many, the struggle to survive is greater than ever.


35% of previously employed Syrians permanently lost their jobs

Unemployment among refugees was already high before the pandemic and many of them only had informal or irregular work. This made refugee workers much more likely to lose their jobs and 35% said that they were permanently laid of due to crisis, compared to 17% of Jordanians who had the same experience.

18 percentage point increase in poverty rate among Syrian refugees

Poverty was also already a serious problem among refugees and four out of five of them lived below the international poverty line of $5.5 per day. Yet, COVID-19 increased the poverty rate among Syrian refugees by another 18 percentage points. This means that poverty is now almost universal among them.

132,000 Syrian refugees outside camps are food insecure

The loss of income and job opportunities means that more Syrian refugees are also going hungry, with 21% of refugee households experiencing food insecurity, compared to 14% in 2018. This means that 132,000 individuals outside of refugee camps does not have reliable access to food.

59% of households limit food intake by adults for children to eat

As more and more refugees find themselves vulnerable to hunger, many households are being forced to resort to negative coping strategies. Child labour and early marriage has increase and in 59% of refugee households, adults are eating less to make sure children can be fed. In 2018, only 30% of refugee households were experiencing this level of need.

Sources: ILO, WFP, UNCHR

For Syrian refugees who fled to Jordan to relocate since war broke out in their country in 2011, formal employment is the first and foremost means of ensuring a decent livelihood and eventual economic integration. This has placed a huge strain on economic infrastructure, service delivery and employment avenues alike.

The Nomou Jordan Fund supports Syrian refugee and migrant-owned businesses in Jordan by providing them with a unique combination of access to finance, business development skills and market linkages, as well as Jordanian SMEs that employ and support the livelihoods of Syrian refugees.