News: business management services

IZDIHAR Newsletter: Small Business Development Centers Flourish after One Year
A special edition of the IZDIHAR Newletter focuses on the achievements of the Small Business Development Centers in Iraq and how they have helped business men and women launch and grow their businesses, create new jobs, and benefit their communities.
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Fifteen Entrepreneurs in Iskandariya Receive Business Grants with Support from Local SBDC
29 January 2008 - The awarding in Iskandariya of small grants to fifteen local entrepreneurs turned January 27 into a day of joy and pride for the community. The recipients - six start-ups and nine existing businesses – were awarded a total of $27,250 that will help them expand their operations.
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Over 700 Iraqis Benefit from Cost and Management Accounting Course
A total of 727 Iraqi students and professional accountants, auditors, businessmen and managers from all over Iraq participated in a course on Cost and Management Accounting organized by the USAID-funded IZDIHAR project from October through December of 2007.
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Six Iraqi Professionals Receive Certification as IT Trainers
11 November 2007 - The second generation of Iraqi “Trainers of Trainers” (ToT) received their certificates at the outset of the “Vision Forward 2: Strategic Seminar for Iraqi Small Business Development Centers”.  The seminar took place in Baghdad in September and was organized by the USAID-funded IZDIHAR project.
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Tikrit University Studies Development of Small Business Development Center
11 November 2007 - The first Business Roundtable Luncheon organized by the Salah al Din Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Tikrit has sparked interest at Tikrit University in the development of a new Small Business Development Center in the city.
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SBDC Staff Learn to Conduct Microfinance Activities
18 October 2007 - The key staff of the Small Business Development Center in Tal’Afar recently attended a training program on the “Pillars of Microfinance”, organized by the USAID-funded IZDIHAR project. The program was conducted by a certified Iraqi CGAP trainer.
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BCED Fosters Economic Development in Babil
7 October 2007 - The Babylon Center for Economic Development (BCED) recently organized and facilitated a conference that gathered 50 representatives of government, private sector businesses and non-governmental organizations to discuss and prioritize agricultural development activities in Babil province.
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Voucher Program Contributes to the Sustainability of Baghdad SBDC
7 October 2007 - Two months after the successful start of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Voucher Program operated by the Iraqi Association of Securities Dealers (IASD), the vouchers are already making a significant contribution to the financial sustainability of the organization.
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Small Business Development Center in Hilla Builds Sustainability
17 September 2007 - The Babil Center for Economic Development (the Small Business Development Center in Hilla) ensured its financial viability over the next seven months as it signed a second Memorandum of Acceptance with the North Babil eProvincial Reconstruction Team (ePRT).
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Iraqi Union of Accountants and Auditors Provides Training to the Central Bank of Iraq
28 August 2007 - Through a training partnership developed with the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI), the Iraqi Union of Accountants and Auditors (IUAA) recently provided a much-needed course in International Accounting Standards and International Financial Reporting Standards (IAS/IFRS) to CBI employees.
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Small Business Development Centers Foster Synergy with Microfinance Institutions
31 July 2007 - A new generation of 14 business development trainers earned their certification during the “Vision Forward Strategic Seminar for Iraqi Small Business Development Centers” organized in Erbil by the USAID-funded IZDIHAR project.  The program also certified four master trainers and three advanced trainers.  Soon all trainers will be delivering business-related courses to indigenous entrepreneurs.
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Two Provincial Reconstruction Teams Obligate To Purchase 420 Vouchers for Business Development Courses
30 July 2007 - The successful start of the Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) Voucher Program initiated by the USAID-funded IZDIHAR project has been confirmed by the interest expressed by the embedded Provincial Reconstruction Teams (ePRTs) in Hilla and Baghdad. Between the end of June and the end of July, these two ePRTs obligated to purchase 420 vouchers.
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Iraqi Business People Embrace the Small Business Development Centers’ Voucher Program
15 July 2007 - The voucher program initiated by the USAID IZDIHAR project to promote the activity of the Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) is off to a good start in Baghdad.  Two days after the District Advisory Councils (DACs) started advertising the voucher program, the Baghdad SBDC, managed by the Iraqi Association of Securities Dealers (IASD), received 12 applications from local businesspeople interested in taking the “How to Start-Up or Improve a Business” course.
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Iraqi Professional Accountants and Students Complete Course on International Auditing Standards
19 June 2007 - The final exam of the course on Auditing Methods, Methodology and Standards brought to a successful completion a nation-wide training initiative undertaken by the USAID-funded IZDIHAR project – to further update the auditing skills of Iraqi accounting professionals and students.
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Iraqi Small Business Development Centers Focus on Empowering Women
31 May 2007 - Through its popular course on “How to Start-up or Improve a Business”, a Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Kirkuk is helping empower Iraqi women to assume new economic and social roles as private entrepreneurs.
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Local Iraqi Organizations Establish Small Business Development Centers
6 March 2007 - An Iraqi institution located in a central governorate is working with the USAID IZDIHAR project to develop a Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to help Iraqi entrepreneurs start-up their own businesses and obtain the financial services they need to sustain them.
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Iraqi Women Advocate for Increased and Effective Role in Business
12 February 2007 - In late January, over 60 enthusiastic women representing NGOs, businesses and government packed into the Al Rasheed Hotel for “Women in Business: A Promise for Economic Progress,” a conference organized by the USAID IZDIHAR project.   Participants engaged in a lively debate over access to small business loans, NGO registration processes, gender equality, business planning, microfinance and related issues relevant to Iraqi women entrepreneurs.
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Universities Launch Major Training Initiative on International Auditing Standards with Support from Professional Association
9 January 2007 - Ten universities in Iraq, in collaboration with seven local chapters of Iraq’s leading professional association for accounting professionals, are launching a major education initiative to introduce International Auditing Standards to Iraq.  Approximately 800 students and accountants throughout Iraq will participate in the seminar over a two month period beginning early January 2007.
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Small Business Development Centers Open in Four Provinces
7 December 2006 - To better prepare Iraqis to start-up their own businesses, the USAID-funded IZDIHAR project recently launched four regional Small Business Development Centers in the provinces of At-Ta’mim, Babil, Baghdad and Erbil.  The centers offer business consulting and specialized courses on how to start up a business.  In addition, they provide links to microfinance institutions and banks.
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Erbil Business Associations Strengthened through Management Training
1 July 2006 - Representatives of several business associations in Erbil recently participated in a USAID-funded training program on association management and development.  Thirty eight business representatives participated in the program, organized by USAID's IZDIHAR project.  The program included training in marketing and communication.

University Students Receive Training on International Accounting Standards
29 June 2006 - 412 university students in eight Iraqi governorates are participating in a specially-designed, two-month training course on International Accounting Standards.  The course is part of a sustained effort by the USAID IZDIHAR project to bring the accounting curriculum of Iraqi universities up to date.
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Training Center is All Business in Baghdad
22 March 2006 – A need for a central, accessible location in Baghdad to deliver training courses for businesspeople has blossomed into a growing partnership between the training center and its business association clients.
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Modern Accounting Concepts Spreading throughout Iraq
21 March 2006 – Five thousand books filled with modern accounting concepts were delivered this week to Iraqi accountants throughout the country to help build a common body of knowledge regarding international accounting standards. 
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Training of Trainers Is Enhancing Auditing Skills in 15 Iraqi Governorates
5 February 2006 – The USAID IZDIHAR project recently completed training 25 Iraqi Certified Public Accountants who will in turn train auditors to international standards throughout Iraq.  The training took place in Amman, Jordan.
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Iraq Revives Publication of Leading Accounting Journal
23 January 2005 – Publication of Iraq’s leading academic journal on accounting recently has been revived thanks to assistance from USAID’s IZDIHAR project.
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IZDIHAR Trains Iraqis in International Accounting Standards
18 January 2006 - The USAID IZDIHAR project recently conducted an intensive training program in International Accounting Standards in 17 governorates throughout Iraq for 558 professional accountants, helping to upgrade their skills in order to implement greater transparency and ethical practices in business and financial accounting.
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U.S. Military and USAID Team Up to Help Small Businesses in Iraq
27 December 2005 – Military civil affairs and the USAID IZDIHAR project recently teamed up in Baghdad to provide two days of training in financial planning and business association management to 18 small business owners from the Al-Rasheed and Al-Karradah chambers of commerce. 
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IZDIHAR and Ramadi/Fallujah Private Sector Leaders Meet to Plan Economic Development
13 December 2005 -
Economic development experts from USAID’s IZDIHAR project recently met in Baghdad with 14 key economic decision-makers from Fallujah and Ramadi to discuss a private sector development strategy to boost economic activity and create sustainable jobs in Al-Anbar Governorate.
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Code of Ethics for Iraqi Business Associations
29 November 2005 - Iraq’s leading business associations have developed and distributed a Code of Ethics to 1500 of their members outlining expected minimum guidelines for ethical business behavior.
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Associations Form Alliance to Promote Iraqi Business Interests
7 November 2005 - Leaders from twelve business associations recently met in Baghdad to lay the foundation for the Iraqi Business Association Alliance, a new organization that will promote the interests of businesspeople and industrialists throughout Iraq. 
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More than 1600 Iraqi Businesspeople Have Benefited from IZDIHAR Training Programs
25 October 2005 - More than 1,600 businesspeople in Iraq have benefited from training programs offered by the USAID IZDIHAR project since the start of the year.  As part of its economic growth initiatives, the project conducts business skills training and public awareness seminars on a variety of economic topics in order to help train business leaders in management skills, nurture the development of business associations, and strengthen the private sector in order to create long-term jobs.
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Building Better Bookkeepers
12 September 2005 - After years of isolation, the first modern English language business books recently have been delivered to five Baghdad area learning resource centers. Each shipment included more than 100 books covering accounting, marketing, leadership, auditing, economics and law.
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IZDIHAR Hosts Strategy Session for Iraq's Private Bankers
12 September 2005 - Staff from USAID’s IZDIHAR project recently met in Baghdad with 35 board members from Iraq’s private banks to set the strategy for development of the banking industry in Iraq and to disseminate “best practices” standards of international banks.
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Iraqi Business Associations Attend WTO Briefing
6 September 2005 - More than 175 businesspeople from 10 Iraqi business associations recently attended a briefing in Baghdad to hear about Iraq’s progress in seeking membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO) and what changes will have to occur in business and government in order to rejoin the world trading community.
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Iraqi Women Receive Business Skills Training
27 July 2005 - The USAID IZDIHAR project recently conducted training in central Iraq for 15 Iraqi businesswomen to help them develop their skills in creating business plans for entrepreneurial ventures.
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Training of Trainers in Accounting Standards Underway
18 July 2005 - Accounting and auditing professionals trained in international accounting standards will lead seminars for more than 300 accounting students and industry professionals in Iraq.
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Firms Share Financial Reporting Practices with Iraqis
15 June 2005 - USAID is working with Iraqi business leaders to expand their knowledge of the accounting and auditing practices of the world’s leading corporations.
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Local entrepreneurs from Hilla receive small business grants.

Local entrepreneurs from Iskandariya were happy to receive small business grants.

Photo of seminar participants around table

Participants in the "Vision Forward" seminar attend a training session.

Photo of voucher

The voucher gives Iraqi business people access to business development training.

Image of Iraqi women working in computer lab.

Women participants in the “How to Start-up or Improve a Business” course develop computer skills.

Entrepreneurs participate in course at Small Business Development Center in Hilla.

The Small Business Development Center Opened in Hilla on 24 November 2006.

Photo of auditing workshop

Iraqi auditors upgrade their professional skills to international standards.

Iraq's leading academic journal on accounting

Publication of Iraq's leading academic journal on accounting has resumed with assistance from USAID's IZDIHAR project.

Photo of auditing and accounting seminar

USAID’s IZDIHAR project rolled out a 7-week training program in International Accounting Standards to accountants and auditors in 17 Iraqi governorates.
US Military and USAID Provide Technical Assistance to Small Businesses in Iraq

A US civil-military operations economic development officer introduces a business management specialist with USAID’s IZDIHAR project. The training team taughT business association management and leadership skills to 18 small business owners.
photo of code of ethics booklets

A Code of Ethics has been developed and distributed to major Iraqi business associations in order to promote ethical business behavior.
photo of women entrprenurs in workshop

Iraqi women entrepreneurs receive training in how to develop business plans through USAID’s IZDIHAR project. Developing and strengthening the business management skills and capacity of the Iraqi private sector is part of the project’s overall goal to foster economic growth and create new jobs.
photo of training participants

Sixteen Iraqi accounting professionals met with University of Jordan professors to discuss ideas on curriculum development and the use of International Accounting Standards in training programs.
photo of annual reports fron multi-national corporations

Annual reports from a number of multi-national companies have been solicited and provided to Iraqi businessmen, students and business services professionals so they can become more familiar with international standards.

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Fifteen Entrepreneurs in Iskandariya Receive Business Grants with Support from Local SBDC

29 January 2008 - The awarding in Iskandariya of small grants to fifteen local entrepreneurs turned January 27 into a day of joy and pride for the community. The recipients - six start-ups and nine existing businesses – were awarded a total of $27,250 that will help them expand their operations.

The competition was fierce. The local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) invited all 113 participants in the “How to Start-Up or Develop a Business” course from Iskandariya to submit business plans. Out of the 32 applications received, the ones that did not exceed the $2,500 funding ceiling were selected. The SBDC staff then met the applicants and visited the premises of the existing businesses. At the end of the process, SBDC advised the donor – the US Military at recommendation of the North Babil ePRT – on the selection of the recipients.

Three business plans submitted by women made it into the final selection. Among the happy winners were two sisters that were granted $2,500 to open a barber shop. Their mother was so overwhelmed with joy that she cried at the awards ceremony hosted at the Iskandariya Nahia Council Building.

 “The ceremony was a great success, and we were very happy that our role in the process and our cooperation with the North Babil ePRT has brought new opportunities to the businesspeople that received the grants”, said the Executive Director of the SBDC.

The Small Business Development Center in Hilla was established with the support and technical assistance of the USAID-funded IZDIHAR project. Since its inception through the end of December 2007, the Center offered 25 iterations of the “How to Start-Up or Improve a Business” course. A total of 300 established or aspiring businesspeople attended, out of which 66 were women.


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Over 700 Iraqis Benefit from Cost and Management Accounting Course

A total of 727 Iraqi students and professional accountants, auditors, businessmen and managers from all over Iraq participated in a course on Cost and Management Accounting organized by the USAID-funded IZDIHAR project from October through December of 2007.

The course was delivered at seven universities and colleges and at several local chapters of the Iraqi Union of Accountants and Auditors (IUAA), of which all the students and professionals are members.  The 3-month course was conducted in cooperation with the Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) and the Small Business Development Centers (SBDC).

All 21 lecturers administering the course are graduates of the “Training of Trainers” program on CMA organized by IZDIHAR. The project also provided a number of supplementary materials, including sample policy manuals, sample disclosure forms, and accounting Info Sheets, to all participants.

The course enabled participants to assess in detail where profits are made, how costs are controlled, and what are the benchmarks of good bookkeeping. Additionally students are taught that maintenance of good records is directly related to meeting reporting requirements, leading to positive results when applying for loans. 


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Six Iraqi Professionals Receive Certification as IT Trainers

11 November 2007 - The second generation of Iraqi “Trainers of Trainers” (ToT) received their certificates at the outset of the “Vision Forward 2: Strategic Seminar for Iraqi Small Business Development Centers”.  The seminar took place in Baghdad in September and was organized by the USAID-funded IZDIHAR project.

Six Iraqi professionals were certified in the field of Information Technology – one as Master Trainer, one as Advanced Trainer and the other four as Trainers. They all successfully underwent an intensive training program, which included specialized IT topics as well as training techniques.

“We are very pleased to receive this certification, which will enable us to share our knowledge with Iraqi professionals and entrepreneurs. Information technology is vital for the development of effective businesses”, said one of the newly certified trainers.

Aside from the certification of the trainers, the seminar also provided a forum where participants could debate on current and strategic issues of relevance to the five Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) currently operating in Iraq. With the support and assistance of the USAID-funded IZDIHAR project, the SBDCs were established and are being managed by local organizations which offer business development courses and advisory services.


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Tikrit University Studies Development of Small Business Development Center

11 November 2007 - The first Business Roundtable Luncheon organized by the Salah al Din Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Tikrit has sparked interest at Tikrit University in the development of a new Small Business Development Center in the city.

Advisors from the USAID IZDIHAR project provided the keynote presentation on “Building a Bankable Business Plan” at the early October event, which gathered over 60 representatives of the private sector, banks and microfinance institutions, provincial government and the university.

A professor from Tikrit University commented, “I value your efforts towards development of the economy in Salah al Din. I participated in the Business Roundtable and it was a rich source for many ideas.  I read the brochure about the Small Business Development Center, and I read the CD, and now I am working on assessing the situation, as we want to establish such a Center here. Currently I feel there are many problems, but your assistance encourages me to continue”.


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SBDC Staff Learn to Conduct Microfinance Activities

18 October 2007 - The key staff of the Small Business Development Center in Tal’Afar recently attended a training program on the “Pillars of Microfinance”, organized by the USAID-funded IZDIHAR project. The program was conducted by a certified Iraqi CGAP trainer.

The course covered issues critical to operation of a microfinance institution, such as loan terms and conditions, loan procedures, loan follow up, collection and controlling delinquency. The training equipped SBDC staff with up to date microfinance techniques that will facilitate the processing of micro-loans, a new line of activity for the SBDC. Until June, when the SBDC awarded its first loans, participants in its business development courses were referred to local microfinance institutions or banks.

“It’s great to have a complete idea about how to make a database system for lenders”, said one participant. “We learned how to follow up the loans and collect the installments. The training has provided us with a new vision. The knowledge that we gained will help us handle all matters related to microfinance”, said another. A third one added that he was happy to get such an important qualification and that he is looking forward to working in this field and contributing to the progress of his community. All participants said they are interested in taking future courses.

The training will help the SBDC in Tal’Afar better fulfill its mission to facilitate access to funding for small and medium size businesses. Since November 2006, when they were established with the support and technical assistance of the USAID-funded IZDIHAR project, the five SBDCs in Iraq referred 110 entrepreneurs to banks and microfinance institutions, of which 26 received loans.


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BCED Fosters Economic Development in Babil

7 October 2007 - The Babylon Center for Economic Development (BCED) recently organized and facilitated an agricultural development conference that gathered fifty representatives of government, private sector businesses and non-governmental organizations, including community agricultural unions and agricultural associations. The participants took stock of issues in irrigation, transportation, marketing and trade that affect the agricultural sector, which is the largest employer in the province. It was an event with 100% Iraqi attendance, organized and hosted by the BCED at the suggestion of the Babil embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team.

The success of the conference illustrates the increased capacity of the BCED to act as a knowledge center and development factor at the level of the governorate. In recognition of its potential and the quality of its training programs and business advisory services, the Center was invited to join the Babil Provincial Economic Development Team that was formed in August this year. This initiative brings together members of the Provincial Council and representatives of the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in a forum that debates ideas and crafts strategic plans for the province. BCED is represented in the Economic Development Team by its Executive Manager.

“We are working together to identify the economic activities that we must include with priority in the development plan of the province for the next year. As far as our center is concerned, aside from the business development courses and advisory services that we will continue to deliver, we have been asked to prepare a business and marketing plan for the rehabilitation of Hilla Textile”, said the Executive manager of the BCED.

The Center has been assisted by the USAID-funded IZDIHAR project in establishing and developing the capacity to run the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Hilla. BCED has been offering training courses and advisory services to the local business community since November 2006.


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Voucher Program Contributes to the Sustainability of Baghdad SBDC

7 October 2007 - In early July of this year, the Iraqi Association of Securities Dealers (IASD) implemented the pilot stage of the Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) Voucher Program. In cooperation with the District Advisory Council (DAC) of Karrada, IASD ran a “How to Start-Up or Improve a Business” course for an audience of fifteen. The participants had been selected by the DAC, and their attendance fee was paid for with vouchers purchased by US Army units.

Two months after the successful start of the program the vouchers are already making a significant contribution to the financial sustainability of the IASD. The number of coupons - whose intrinsic value is $125 - purchased in August rose to 205. Additionally, 185 vouchers were obligated by three embedded Provincial Reconstruction Teams (ePRT) and one ministry of the Iraqi Government, and the demand seems to be growing.

“The Karada and 9 Nisan District Councils are extremely impressed and the participants have been very pleased with the training they have received on the “How to Start-Up or improve a Business” course from the Small Business Development Center”, said one ePRT representative. “When I first heard about the SBDC business training vouchers I was not sure how well they would be accepted. I was surprised by the strong local demand for the courses, both from experienced businesspeople and those looking to start up an enterprise. We have filled up the classes weeks in advance”, said a representative of another ePRT.

“Our cooperation with local authorities – the District Advisory Councils – and with the Provincial Reconstruction Teams that operate in Baghdad has so far been highly beneficial for all parties involved. As we substantially expanded our outreach at the community level, more Iraqi entrepreneurs gained access to our business development courses. By getting trained they can make an increased contribution to local development – which is a goal that the Councils, the PRTs and all of us share”, said the IASD Executive Manager. “We will pursue this cooperation, as the vouchers have proved very instrumental for us in achieving sustainability”, said the Executive Manager.

Since 2005, IASD has benefited from the technical assistance and support of the USAID-funded IZDIHAR project. As of last November, IASD has been running the SBDC program in Baghdad. In this capacity, through the end of August this year it has offered 15 “How to Start-Up or Improve a Business” courses to 224 Iraqi participants.


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Small Business Development Center in Hilla Builds Sustainability

17 September 2007 - The Babil Center for Economic Development (the Small Business Development Center in Hilla) ensured its financial viability over the next seven months as it signed a second Memorandum of Acceptance with the North Babil eProvincial Reconstruction Team (ePRT).

The Memorandum requires the Babil Center for Economic Development (BCED) to organize and facilitate an Agriculture Development Conference that will gather representatives of several ministries of the Government of Kurdistan region - Agriculture, Irrigation, Transportation and Trade – and members of the Agricultural Unions of North Babil. 

BCED was also asked to deliver a training course for representatives of the agricultural unions, focusing on agribusiness planning, legal operation of agricultural NGOs in Iraq and agribusiness accounting.

“This is the second Memorandum of Acceptance that we are signing with the North Babil eProvincial Reconstruction Team”, said the Executive Director of BCED. “The funds made available for the activities outlined by the Memorandum will consolidate our financial sustainability and will help us expand our activities at the level of the province”, added the Executive Director.

The Small Business Development Center in Hilla is part of the network of five business development services that were set up by Iraqi organizations with the help and assistance of the USAID-funded IZDIHAR project.  Founded in November 2006, the SBDC in Hilla has offered 12 iterations of its core activity, the “How to Start-Up or Improve a Business” course, to 150 people as of August 1, 2007.


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Iraqi Union of Accountants and Auditors Provides Training to the Central Bank of Iraq

28 August 2007 - Through a training partnership developed with the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI), the Iraqi Union of Accountants and Auditors (IUAA) recently provided a much-needed course in International Accounting Standards and International Financial Reporting Standards (IAS / IFRS) to CBI employees.

34 CBI employees, selected from a number of CBI departments, attended a comprehensive 60-hour IUAA course that started on July 15 and ran through mid-August.  The Governor’s Office, the Department of Accounting, the Internal Controls Department and the Treasury Department were all strongly represented among several other departments.  The CBI’s Training Coordinator noted that the participants were nominated because they are seen to be champions for spreading the knowledge about IAS / IFRS across the organization quickly.

IZDIHAR has been working with the IUAA in developing a modern UNCTAD-compliant educational curriculum for Iraqi accountants and auditors, which has received regional recognition and has been implemented across Iraq. The training program that commenced with the IAS / IFRS course will include another four courses: Fundamentals of English for Bankers; Basic Excel; Auditing Methods, Methodology and Standards; and Internal Auditing and Internal Controls for Bankers.


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Small Business Development Centers Foster Synergy with Microfinance Institutions

31 July 2007 - A new generation of 14 business development trainers earned their certification during the “Vision Forward Strategic Seminar for Iraqi Small Business Development Centers” organized in Erbil by the USAID-funded IZDIHAR project.  The program also certified four master trainers and three advanced trainers.  Soon all trainers will be delivering business-related courses to indigenous entrepreneurs. 

The certification of the new trainers – Iraqi professionals with expertise in business planning, marketing, accounting, IT, etc. – is one of the major outputs of the seminar, which represented the first summit of the five Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) that started operating in November 2006.  Twenty-two participants – representatives of IZDIHAR, Amaluna and a special guest speaker from Al-Thiqa Kirkuk - attended the event.

The focus of the event was to build synergy between the centers and the microfinance institutions (MFIs) active in Iraq, in order to increase access to funding for existing small businesses. To that end, the active exchange of information occasioned by the training sessions included substantial debates that resulted in a number of ideas for developing new strategies of cooperation with the microfinance institutions.

So far, the SBDCs have been active in referring the graduates of the “How to Start-Up or Improve a Business” to local microfinance institutions for loans. Out of the 571 Iraqis that graduated from the course by June 30, 2007, 99 got referrals and 26 of them actually received loans.

Designing a marketing campaign targeted to the microfinance institutions, to enable them to better understand what the SBDCs do, was seen by the five SBDC leaders at the seminar as crucial in fostering closer cooperation.  Cross-training MFI loan officers at the SBDCs and the staff of the centers at the microfinance institutions was embraced as another good strategic direction. The training of the MFI clients whose loan applications were rejected was also deemed as important to further stimulate local economies.

“Our partnership with microfinance institutions and banks is a key issue for the success of our efforts.  The number of actual loans awarded to our graduates is an important benchmark in assessing the viability of our services. In this respect, working together with the MFIs to make sure that they develop loan products to meet the needs of the  aspiring entrepreneurs is one of our TOP priorities”, said the Executive Manager of the Women Empowerment Organization that runs the Small Business Development Program in Erbil.


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Two Provincial Reconstruction Teams Obligate To Purchase 420 Vouchers for Business Development Courses

30 July 2007 - The successful start of the Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) Voucher Program initiated by the USAID-funded IZDIHAR project has been confirmed by the interest expressed by the embedded Provincial Reconstruction Teams (ePRTs) in Hilla and Baghdad. Between the end of June and the end of July, these two ePRTs obligated to purchase 420 vouchers.  Each voucher provides access for one Iraqi current or aspiring private entrepreneur to receive the main training product delivered by the SBDCs: the 5-day “How to Start-Up or Improve a Business” course.

“We very much thank the North Babil ePRT for their tremendous support to our training program”, said the Executive Manager of the Babylon Center for Economic Development (BCED), which runs the SBDC in Hilla. “The recent Memorandum of Agreement that we signed for the delivery of our course to 200 business persons in Al-Iskandariyah is a solid confirmation of the quality of our services”, said the manager. The first course is expected to be delivered in that area on August 19th.  BCED also noted that they were extremely impressed with expeditious voucher obligation.  In total from discussion to proposal to the signing of the memorandum, less than three weeks passed.

Only five months passed since March, when the “architecture” of the SBDC Voucher Program was designed until the printing orders started coming in. The roll-out and marketing stages, the “pilot project” in Baghdad and the first orders all fit into this period. Currently, the local organizations that are running the program are discussing very specific target audiences for the 5-day “How to Start-Up or Improve a Business” course, such as non-violent prisoners in Kirkuk, farmers in Tal’Afar and women villagers in Erbil.


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Iraqi Business People Embrace the Small Business Development Centers’ Voucher Program

15 July 2007 - The voucher program initiated by the USAID-funded IZDIHAR project to promote the activity of the Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) is off to a good start in Baghdad.  Two days after the District Advisory Councils (DACs) started advertising the voucher program, the Baghdad SBDC, managed by the Iraqi Association of Securities Dealers (IASD), received 12 applications from local businesspeople interested in taking the “How to Start-Up or Improve a Business” course.

“The launching of the voucher program is a good step forward and we regard it with great optimism”, said one of the DAC chairmen attending an information session for community representatives on the roll-out of the voucher program at the community level.  “It will help us open doors for all businesspeople in our community”, said the chairman.

IASD staff are currently reviewing the applications and preparing for the start of the course, scheduled for the first week of July. “We are very pleased about the enthusiastic community response to the voucher concept”, said the Executive Director of IASD.  “The vouchers will help us reach out to a greater audience of existing and aspiring businesspeople and provide them with business development services.”

The voucher program will run in all five provinces where the SBDCs are located. The program involves the distribution of coupons with an intrinsic value of $125, which compensate the centers for the costs associated with the delivery of the 5-day course entitled “How to Start-Up or Improve a Business”.


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Iraqi Business People Embrace the Small Business Development Centers’ Voucher Program

The voucher program initiated by the USAID-funded IZDIHAR project to promote the activity of the Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) is off to a good start in Baghdad.  Two days after the District Advisory Councils (DACs) started advertising the voucher program, the Baghdad SBDC, managed by the Iraqi Association of Securities Dealers (IASD), received 12 applications from local businesspeople interested in taking the “How to Start-Up or Improve a Business” course.

“The launching of the voucher program is a good step forward and we regard it with great optimism”, said one of the DAC chairmen attending an information session for community representatives on the roll-out of the voucher program at the community level.  “It will help us open doors for all businesspeople in our community”, said the chairman.

IASD staff are currently reviewing the applications and preparing for the start of the course, scheduled for the first week of July. “We are very pleased about the enthusiastic community response to the voucher concept”, said the Executive Director of IASD.  “The vouchers will help us reach out to a greater audience of existing and aspiring businesspeople and provide them with business development services.”

The voucher program will run in all five provinces where the SBDCs are located. The program involves the distribution of coupons with an intrinsic value of $125, which compensate the centers for the costs associated with the delivery of the 5-day course entitled “How to Start-Up or Improve a Business”.


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Iraqi Professional Accountants and Students Complete Course on International Auditing Standards

19 June 2007 - The final exam of the course on Auditing Methods, Methodology and Standards brought to a successful completion a nation-wide training initiative undertaken by the USAID-funded IZDIHAR project – to further update the auditing skills of Iraqi accounting professionals and students.

Over eight hundred participants – approximately 30% of whom are female - enrolled in the course, which was organized in cooperation with seven local chapters of the Iraq’s leading professional association for accounting professionals and ten universities from all over Iraq. Some of the locations are situated in challenging areas. Still, the overall attendance was high – 90% on average for the course, and a similar percentage for the final exam.

The course started in February and ended in late April. It consisted of sixty hours of classroom instruction and two examinations – mid-term and final. The trainers were all Iraqi professionals and academics who benefited from prior training from IZDIHAR. The trainers participated in the preparation of the mid-term exam, where a “bank of questions” was built from materials supplied by lecturers from all governorates.

“The quality of the course and of the additional materials was good and very good”, said one of the trainers. “The participants gained useful information about international auditing standards. The graduates who are governmental employees may get a promotion, while the others will have a better chance to get a job. In Tikrit, for instance, when somebody applies for a job with the General Commission for Taxes, he / she should be a graduate of this course. In addition, participants had a chance to make new friends and enrich their social life."

All attendees received an Auditor's Toolkit, which contains practical audit programs, internal control questionnaires and other materials that can be used in a number of professional contexts. “The course helped me and gave me a lot”, said a participant, adding “I liked it because I learned a lot about accounting, auditing and financial statements and records”.

This initiative followed on a previous training organized by IZDIHAR that was equally well received – a course on International Accounting Standards. Both were meant to bring the professional standards of Iraqi accountants and auditors in line with modern standards and international best practice.


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Iraqi Small Business Development Centers Focus on Empowering Women

31 May 2007 - Through its popular course on "How to Start-up or Improve a Business", a Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Kirkuk is helping empower Iraqi women to assume new economic and social roles as private entrepreneurs.

“61 women, out of a total number of 59 trainees, participated in this course since we launched it in December 2006.  Empowering women is one of our core objectives”, explains the Center’s Executive Director.

The SBDC in Kirkuk is not the only center which has placed women empowerment at the core of its small business development courses.  The Iraqi Association of Securities Dealers (IASD) follows closely, with 46 female participants out of a total of 117.  “In our latest course, half of the participants were women, all of them representing the less fortunate part of society - widows and unemployed mothers.  We were very impressed with their positive and grateful attitude towards this training and our efforts in organizing it”, said IASD's Executive Director.

The Small Business Center in Tal’Afar, a small city where the community adheres to strict gender norms, ran a course for women only.  Emboldened by this initiative, one of the nine participants pledged to establish a new organization that would focus on training and education activities for women.

At the end of April, the five SBDCs had offered the course to 566 Iraqis, of whom 184 (approximately 33%) were women. “We trust that by including women in our courses we have been making a significant contribution to boosting their entrepreneurial spirit”, said the Executive Director of the “Women Empowerment Organization” from Erbil, which has also been running the Small Business Development course.

The USAID-funded IZDIHAR project identified five existing regional associations and assisted in upgrading their capacity to allow them to act as Small Business Development Centers.  The mission of the SBDCs is to better prepare Iraqis to start or expand their own businesses and to gain access to capital through microfinance institutions (MFIs) and banks.  The SBDC concept builds on the experience of existing business associations and business centers, particularly those which have excellent links in their communities with MFIs and local banks.


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Local Iraqi Organizations Establish Small Business Development Centers

5 March 2007 - An Iraqi institution located in a central governorate is working with the USAID IZDIHAR project to develop a Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to help Iraqi entrepreneurs start-up their own businesses and obtain the financial services they need to sustain them.

Recently, the center provided an integrated, five-day course for local businesspeople, conducted by local trainers that graduated from “Training of Trainers” programs organized by the project.  Five women and eight men attended the training, which included sessions on business planning, marketing, cash flow and loan applications. At the end of the program, participants were able to create a business plan that will help them operate their businesses more effectively and facilitate access to capital.

According to one female participant, who owns and runs a pastry shop: "Initially I hesitated to participate.  Now I feel that it has been very helpful and I must change the way I run my business.  I have to analyze the market and define my objectives accordingly, to build a trademark for my products, prepare a cash flow statement and a budget."

Another participant - a man who runs a business in aluminum processing - returned to the center two days after the end of the course to revise his business plan, saying "I want to develop my factory and I trust that preparing a good plan will help a lot in obtaining the bank loan that I need."

As news about the course spread quickly through the community, another fourteen local entrepreneurs registered for a second five-day course at the center.

The USAID IZDIHAR project has assisted five Iraqi institutions, located in different governorates, in establishing such centers.  The activity of the SBDCs builds on the experience of existing business associations and/or business centers, particularly those who have excellent links with microfinance institutions and banks. The optimistic energy that the centers are pouring into their communities along with the helpful services they offer are being greeted with substantial interest by local entrepreneurs. 


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Iraqi Women Advocate for Increased and Effective Role in Business

12 February 2007 - In late January, over 60 enthusiastic women representing NGOs, businesses and government packed into the Al Rasheed Hotel for “Women in Business: A Promise for Economic Progress,” a conference organized by the USAID IZDIHAR project.

Participants engaged in a lively debate over access to small business loans, NGO registration processes, gender equality, business planning, microfinance and related issues relevant to Iraqi women entrepreneurs.

Encouraging women to seek entrepreneurship as a means to economic self-sufficiency, an IZDIHAR senior advisor who delivered the keynote speech said, “For women, business ownership represents power, potential, promise and progress.”

A defining moment in the conference came during the presentation by the executive director of the a small business development center in Hilla. She shared her experiences running an association that provides consulting and training for local business people.

A top advisor to the State Ministry for Women Affairs made a passionate plea for an increased and effective presence of Iraqi women in business. She emboldened women to look at increasing their participation in the bidding and contracting process. She reminded attendees, “Don’t be intimidated! Start your business now.”

In a presentation on micro-credit, an IZDIHAR expert on microfinance isses gave an overview of the microfinance industry in Iraq. She introduced the audience to the five microfinance institutions (two of them indigenous) currently operating in Iraq and informed participants about various technical aspects such as rates and application process.

The presentation on NGO registration by the representative from the State Ministry of Civil Society sparked the liveliest moment of the conference. Following his presentation, the room erupted with questions relating to the difficulty of registration, the confusion swirling around existing laws and failure to implement recent laws.

At the conclusion of the conference, the IZDIHAR microfinance expert comments, “The event was engaging as there was a lot of dialogue with powerful and educated women who are not afraid to speak up. They spoke from their hearts and want to make changes in their lives, their families and their communities.”


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Universities Launch Major Training Initiative on International Auditing Standards with Support from Professional Association

9 January 2007 - Ten universities in Iraq, in collaboration with seven local chapters of Iraq’s leading professional association for accounting professionals, are launching a major education initiative to introduce International Auditing Standards to Iraq.  Approximately 800 students and accountants throughout Iraq will participate in the seminar over a two month period beginning early January 2007.

The professional association, a full member of the International Federation of Accountants and known throughout the region for the capacity-building services it provides to members, is helping to raise the standards of the accounting profession in Iraq while contributing to its own sustainability by organizing seminars and professional networking opportunities throughout the country.

The seminar on Auditing Methods, Methodology and Standards will consist of 20 sessions – three per week - totaling 60 hours of education.  The training is equivalent to a college level class and is fully compliant with international education standards established by both the United Nations and the International Federation of Accountants.  In addition to lectures and discussions, participants will be equipped with an “auditor’s toolkit” that includes audit programs, internal control questionnaires and other tools to assist them in professional auditing practices.

The training initiative builds on previous activities developed by the USAID-funded IZDIHAR project in co-operation with universities and the professional association. The courses will be delivered and overseen by professors who are graduates of the “Training of Trainers” activities organized by the project and follows on the successful completion of a course on International Accounting Standards attended by 429 students from eight universities. 

The growing capacity of Iraqi universities to provide up-to-date accounting curricula and the widening circle of Iraqi accounting professionals familiar with international accounting and auditing standards is part of a sustained effort to improve the business environment in Iraq, expand the private sector and create new jobs.


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Small Business Development Centers Open in Four Provinces

7 December 2006 - To better prepare Iraqis to start-up their own businesses, the USAID-funded IZDIHAR project recently launched four regional Small Business Development Centers in the provinces of At-Ta’mim, Babil, Baghdad and Erbil.  The centers offer business consulting and specialized courses on how to start-up a business.  In addition, they provide links to microfinance institutions and banks.

The first course, How to Start-Up or Improve a Business, began in Hilla on November 24, 2006 and in the cities of Baghdad, Erbil and Kirkuk in early December.

IZDIHAR (which means prosperity in Arabic) provides business development assistance in Iraq by raising professional standards, supporting business associations, offering business management skills training, and as of November 2006, establishing and building the capacity of regional Small Business Development Centers to assist start-ups.


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Erbi Business Associations Strengthened through Management Training

1 July 2006 - Representatives of several business associations in Erbil recently participated in a USAID-funded training program on association management and development.  Thirty eight business representatives participated in the program, organized by USAID's IZDIHAR project.  The program included training in marketing and communication.


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University Students Receive Training on International Accounting Standards

29 June 2006 - 412 university students in eight Iraqi governorates are participating in a specially-designed, two-month training course on International Accounting.  The course, part of a sustained effort by the USAID IZDIHAR project to bring the accounting curriculum of Iraqi universities up to date, complies with the educational standards set by the United Nations Committee on Trade and Development, which is the international best-practices repository.

Participants must pass a mid-term and a final exam in order to receive certificates recognizing their successful completion of the training course, which also includes ten hours of classroom time covering professional ethics issues. The course lecturers are successful graduates from an intensive “Training of Trainers” program supported by IZDIHAR and conducted by several of the leading accounting professors in the Middle East.


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Training Center is All Business in Baghdad

22 March 2006 – A need for a central, accessible location in Baghdad to deliver training courses for businesspeople has blossomed into a growing partnership between the training center and its business association clients.

“It is a big success,” said the president of the International Negotiations Institute (INI) and a business association member.  Before, we did not have access to a central meeting place for all types of training with computers and Internet connections.  Now, we do.”

Through a grant from USAID’s IZDIHAR project, the Iraq Centre for Development & International Dialogue (CEDID) was able to purchase computers and install Internet broadband connections to link up with the international community.  The Centre now offers two mid-size training rooms, a conference room for 80 people, and a bank of computers that can be used for training.

Businesspeople pay a small fee for each session they attend.  The fee is then shared between the center and the business associations.  This has encouraged active use of the new facility.

The training center also offers courses in computers, business association management, business management skills, accounting, and a variety of specialized economic reform topics to help businesspeople sharpen their talents so they can grow their businesses and generate new jobs in Iraq.


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Modern Accounting Concepts Spreading throughout Iraq

21 March 2006 – Five thousand books filled with modern accounting concepts were delivered this week to Iraqi accountants throughout the country to help build a common body of knowledge regarding international accounting standards. 

The Arabic-language books, comprising 120 titles on accounting, auditing, marketing, human resources, law and economics, were delivered to 26 locations, including 7 universities, a governmental organization, and 18 branches of the Iraqi Union of Accountants and Auditors (IUAA).  Eighty percent of the recipients were located outside of Baghdad.

The books were selected based on the United Nations Committee for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) curriculum, which sets the international benchmarks for the education of accountants and auditors.

Funded by the USAID IZDIHAR project in coordination with the IUAA, the initiative will help Iraqi accountants access information in order to achieve certification in international accounting, which is needed to update their skills and for work with international companies.


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Training of Trainers Is Enhancing Auditing Skills in 15 Iraqi Governorates

5 February 2006 – The USAID IZDIHAR project recently completed training 25 Iraqi Certified Public Accountants who will in turn train auditors to international standards throughout Iraq.  The training took place in Amman, Jordan.

The newly trained trainers represent fifteen Iraqi governorates and will present courses later this year to hundreds of Iraqi auditors on topics related to the requirements of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC).  The IFAC standards have been adopted by the Iraqi Union of Accountants and Auditors and must be implemented by its membership in 2006.

Once it is rolled out across the country, the training will upgrade and enhance the professional skills of the Iraqi auditors and familiarize them with the industry’s code of ethics after years of isolation.


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Iraq Revives Publication of Leading Accounting Journal

23 January 2005 – Publication of Iraq’s leading academic journal on accounting recently has been revived thanks to assistance from USAID’s IZDIHAR project.

The Journal of the College of Administration and Economy of Baghdad University is distributed to accountants and auditors in Iraq and throughout the Middle East, covering topics such as accounting theories, statistical analyses of financial issues, accounting industry impacts of WTO accession, and research on management and decision-making. 

The USAID IZDIHAR project funded the printing of the journal, enabling its first appearance since the publication was suspended in 2003.

The journal is an important publication as Iraq’s accounting practices become more transparent and the country progresses towards a market economy.  Distributed by the leading management education institution in Iraq, the journal is one of the principal ways that accounting professionals are able to exchange ideas on key topics.


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IZDIHAR Trains Iraqis in International Accounting Standards

17 January 2006 - The USAID IZDIHAR project recently conducted an intensive training program in International Accounting Standards in 17 governorates throughout Iraq for 558 professional accountants, helping to upgrade their skills in order to implement greater transparency and ethical practices in business and financial accounting.

The 7-week program was developed by IZDIHAR accounting experts with the support of the Iraq Union of Accountants and Auditors, the country’s leading accounting and auditing professional association with 21,000 members across Iraq.  Each participant received 66 hours of classroom training from one of 25 Iraqi senior accounting and auditing professionals who had graduated from IZDIHAR’s “Training of Trainers” program. 

At the end of the course, participants were required to take a final exam in order to receive a certificate of completion, indicating an understanding of world class accounting standards and raising their professional education toward the international level.


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Military and USAID Team Up to Help Small Businesses in Iraq

27 December 2005 – Military civil affairs and the USAID IZDIHAR project recently teamed up in Baghdad to provide two days of training in financial planning and business association management to 18 small business owners from the Al-Rasheed and Al-Karradah chambers of commerce. 

The training was designed to build capacity within the local chambers and their business members so they can better understand and apply business, management and financial planning skills in order to expand their organizations and create new jobs.

“We are working hard to help these chambers of commerce become vibrant, functional organizations,” said Major Carlos Molina, a civil-military operations economic development officer from the 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 3rd Infantry Division.  “The IZDIHAR project is a perfect fit for our needs as it is focused on growing the private sector in Iraq and already provides excellent training for small businesses in a number of key areas.”

The first day of training introduced the small business owners to accounting techniques and discussed cash flow, budgeting and an organization’s balance sheet.  The second day featured training in how to build a business association, how to generate money to run the association, how to select issues to advocate on behalf of the members, and how to become a more respected board member or leader of the association.

“The training programs are great and hard to find inside Iraq,” said a participant from the Al-Karradah district.  “It has helped me a lot.  It will help me establish our chamber in Al-Karradah.”

“We are excited to be working with the civil-military operations team to strengthen the business management skills of small business owners,” stated Khalid Al-Naif, head of USAID’s IZDIHAR project.  “The desire of the businesspeople to gain new knowledge and skills bodes well for the future of Iraq’s private sector.”

“Before, we were so limited in our relationships with the international community,” noted a representative of the Al-Rasheed Chamber of Commerce.  “Today we are free to move forward and develop our association through programs like this one.  Now we are like students and we need more information.”

According to Maj. Molina, the military’s partnership with the IZDIHAR project is just the start of support that will help build the capacity of the local chambers.  “We definitely will be providing more training programs,” he said, “and we are working with IZDIHAR to bring microfinance loans to these small businesses as well.”

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IZDIHAR and Ramadi/Fallujah Private Sector Leaders Meet to Plan Economic Development

13 December 2005 - Economic development experts from USAID’s IZDIHAR project recently met in Baghdad with 14 key economic decision-makers from Fallujah and Ramadi to discuss a private sector development strategy to boost economic activity and create sustainable jobs in Al-Anbar Governorate.

The private sector representatives from Ramadi and Fallujah agreed, in coordination with IZDIHAR, to create the Committee for Regional Economic Development of Al-Anbar (CREDA), a group that will bring together people from throughout the region to develop a strategy to strengthen the private sector and create jobs.  Ideas discussed included technical training, microfinance initiatives, expansion of credit to businesses that are owned and operated in Al-Anbar, and the private provision of public services located in the Governorate.

Specific ideas and activities will be proposed by the committee to IZDIHAR for support consideration via the provision of international technical expertise, training and grant funding with a special emphasis on implementing projects that result in quickly creating new jobs for residents in the area.

Al-Anbar Governorate is an important economic area in Iraq and is the location for many farms, factories and natural resources, such as phosphates.  It also is the main economic transportation route for the country featuring the major highway that links Baghdad with Jordan and Syria.


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Code of Ethics for Iraqi Business Associations

29 November 2005 - Iraq’s leading business associations have developed and distributed a Code of Ethics to 1500 of their members outlining expected minimum guidelines for ethical business behavior.

The Code of Ethics was developed with the assistance of USAID’s IZDIHAR project and Baghdad University.

The Code commits organizations and their members to the highest ethical and professional conduct, to accept responsibility in making business decisions that protect the safety and welfare of the public, to avoid conflicts of interest, to be honest in their dealings with others, to reject bribery, to acknowledge and correct errors in their work, and to assist colleagues and co-workers in their professional development.

Business associations are required to sign the Code of Ethics, encourage their members to sign the code as well, and promote business activities among members who have agreed to abide by the Code of Ethics.


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Associations Form Alliance to Promote Iraqi Business Interests

7 November 2005 - Leaders from twelve business associations recently met in Baghdad to lay the foundation for the Iraqi Business Association Alliance, a new organization that will promote the interests of businesspeople and industrialists throughout Iraq. 

The USAID IZDIHAR project is providing technical and funding support for the development of the new business group.

“The alliance enables us to work as a team rather than as separate organizations,” said the president of one of the founding associations.  “This is particularly important when we communicate with the government as it considers making laws and rules that can impact businesses.”

Members of the new alliance have agreed to work together to serve as a strong advocate for businesses, to lobby for government measures that will stimulate economic growth, and to educate businesses on how to fight government corruption that hinders progress and slows down the creation of new jobs.

The new organization will be officially launched at an upcoming event. 

“This is a major positive step for the Iraqi business community,” noted a business association leader.


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More than 1600 Iraqi Businesspeople Have Benefited from IZDIHAR Training Programs

25 October 2005 - More than 1,600 businesspeople in Iraq have benefited from training programs offered by the USAID IZDIHAR project since the start of the year.  As part of its economic growth initiatives, the project conducts business skills training and public awareness seminars on a variety of economic topics for members of Iraqi business associations in order to help train business leaders in management skills, nurture the development of business associations, and strengthen the private sector in order to create long-term jobs.

“All the training events we attended were of great benefit to our members,” said the vice president of one business association.  “Previously, Iraq was a big jail for Iraqis, especially the industrialists.  Through these training sessions, we get advanced and scientific information.”

“I am sixty years old, but I have gained precious information equal to my whole life through these trainings,” remarked one participant who participated in recent training sessions on business planning, the World Trade Organization, tariffs and customs, intellectual property, and trade in services.

Another association member added, “The information totally enriched our knowledge and allowed us to become acquainted with the commercial world, the rights of industrialists, and intellectual property rights.”

 “The benefits achieved from these trainings are great,” the head of a Baghdad-based business association stated.  “I hope they will be continued and generalized to all the business segments.


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Building Better Bookkeepers

12 September 2005 - After years of isolation, the first modern English language business books recently have been delivered to five Baghdad area learning resource centers. Each shipment included more than 100 books covering accounting, marketing, leadership, auditing, economics and law. It is all part of the USAID IZDIHAR project to promote development of Iraq’s private sector. The books reflect the requirements of the UN Conference on Trade & Development Global Curriculum for Accountants in order to ensure that bookkeepers in Iraq are trained using the same standards as their colleagues throughout the world.


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IZDIHAR Hosts Strategy Session for Iraq's Private Bankers

12 September 2005 - Staff from USAID’s IZDIHAR project recently met in Baghdad with 35 board members from Iraq’s private banks to set the strategy for development of the banking industry in Iraq and to disseminate “best practices” standards of international banks.

The session included a briefing of the economic and monetary situation of the banking industry and its impacts for Iraq’s private banks, comparisons of Iraqi banks with operations of other banks in the Arab region, and discussions of banking products that serve the needs of customers and can produce additional revenue for the banks.

“Some of the new banking products that were discussed are new to us,” noted one banker who attended the meeting. “We have never heard of them before.”

“During the period of Saddam, no one could hold sessions or meetings regarding the development of the banking sector,” he added. “It was forbidden. Holding this session is like transferring businessmen from the darkness to the light.”


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Iraqi Business Associations Attend WTO Briefing

6 September 2005 - More than 175 businesspeople from 10 Iraqi business associations recently attended a briefing in Baghdad to hear about Iraq’s progress in seeking membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO) and what changes will have to occur in business and government in order to rejoin the world trading community.

The briefing was conducted by an international group of experts from USAID’s IZDIHAR project, which seeks to help expand the private sector and create more jobs in Iraq.

Businesspeople learned about the history of the WTO, its objectives, and the steps required of countries that seek to join the organization.

Based in Geneva, Switzerland, the World Trade Organization consists of 148 member nations and is the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations.


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Iraqi Women Receive Business Skills Training

27 July 2005 - The USAID IZDIHAR project recently conducted training in central Iraq for 15 Iraqi businesswomen to help them develop their skills in creating business plans for entrepreneurial ventures.

The women, all members of businesswomen’s associations, are seeking to expand their existing firms or turn their entrepreneurial ideas into profit-making ventures. Where others see problems, they see opportunities to develop new businesses in areas like architectural design, construction, computer services and publishing.

Following the training sessions, each entrepreneur will write a business plan for her idea and present it to be critiqued by the group and the trainers. Those with the most promising plans will seek microfinance loans that can assist them achieve their goals and help create more long-term private sector jobs in Iraq.


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Training of Trainers in Accounting Standards Underway

18 July 2005 - Sixteen Iraqi accounting and auditing professionals recently received international accounting standards training in Amman, Jordan as part of USAID’s Iraq Private Sector Growth and Employment Generation initiative.

The sixteen professionals, who are members of accounting and auditing associations, university professors and industry practitioners, will become the core group of trainers who will lead seminars for more than 300 accounting students and industry professionals in Iraq.

Isolation over the past decade in Iraq has resulted in a distinct lack of up-to-date knowledge of International Accounting Standards, International Financial Reporting Standards and ethical standards for accountants as well as what is required for typical modern annual reporting for corporations.

In order to address these needs, the training of trainers program was developed to improve the skills of Iraqi accountants in order to strengthen the accounting industry in Iraq and enhance the accountability, transparency and usefulness of financial documents in making sound business management decisions.


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Firms Share Financial Reporting Practices with Iraqis

15 June 2005 - The USAID Iraq Private Sector Growth and Employment Generation project (ECON II) is working with Iraqi business leaders to expand their knowledge of the accounting and auditing practices of the world’s leading corporations.

Major public firms from the United States and the European Union have been solicited by the project to share public information about their auditing standards, financial disclosure practices, and annual reports in order to illustrate how multi-national firms operate in today’s world.

The first shipment of these reports was recently delivered by the project to a number of universities, professional societies, and Chambers of Commerce in central Iraq, where they will be used as models of financial reporting for Iraqi firms.

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