New UN project to spur growth in Iraq’s private sector

Traditional tea shop in Baghdad, Iraq.

18 February 2010 – The United Nations agency entrusted with accelerating sustainable industrial development in poorer countries today unveiled a new scheme to foster business growth and create new jobs in Iraq.

“The Iraqi private sector is mainly composed of small and medium enterprises which in the past did not benefit from foreign or local investment due to political and economic instability in the country,” said Kandeh K. Yumkella, Director-General of the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). “By reviving the private sector, we will help generate employment.”

The two-year, €2 million “Investment Promotion for Iraq” plan, funded by Italy, aims to boost competitiveness of existing enterprises in the three governorates of Erbil, Baghdad and Thi Qar using an innovating e-learning platform.

It will complement and reinforce an existing business development project in Iraq which has already helped train over 300 entrepreneurs and supported some 160 small and medium enterprise projects.

The scheme also seeks to enhance the competitiveness of local institutions and support small and medium businesses looking for potential partnerships with foreign companies.

In addition, it will help women increase their access to markets, information and technology through training and counselling. “This will promote women’s economic rights and independence,” Mr. Yumkella noted.

Environmental sustainability will be a component of the programme, with UNIDO expected to show manufacturing firms how to promote cleaner production processes and reduce the emission of hazardous and toxic chemicals.

The agreement on financing the initiative was signed today in Vienna by the UNIDO chief and Gianni Ghisi, Italy’s Ambassador to the agency.

Earlier this week, the top UN envoy to Iraq said that while there are still forces trying to disrupt reconstruction with deadly violence, they cannot reverse the progress already taking place, with national elections slated for 7 March.

However, greater international engagement is needed, Ad Melkert, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, told reporters in New York.

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