Women Entrepreneurship Development

ILO introduces key entrepreneurship training package for Iraqi women in enterprise

With the support of the European Union, the ILO has launched one of its key entrepreneurship training programmes in Iraq to support hundreds of women to set up small-scale businesses in the agricultural sector.

News | 27 June 2022
Basra and Dohuk (ILO News) The International Labour Organization (ILO) launched its GET Ahead training programme in Iraq, to provide hundreds of women with the skills and knowledge needed to start a small-scale business or improve an existing one.

GET Ahead, which is short for “Gender and Entrepreneurship Together – GET Ahead for Women in Enterprise” is a global training package, which seeks to develop entrepreneurial skills from a gender perspective – supporting women of low income.

For the first time, the programme is being rolled out in Iraq, targeting women working in the agricultural sector. The programme, which was launched earlier in June, is seeking to reach over 500 entrepreneurs and 50 potential trainers in Basra and in Dohuk.

The trainings are taking place under the framework of an ILO project titled “Enhancing labour governance, inspection and working conditions in response to COVID-19,” which is supported by the European Union. The project builds the capacities of rural women in entrepreneurship and decent employment in the field of agriculture through these training, which are being implemented with The Swedish Development Aid Organization (SWEDO) and Al-Meameen Humanitarian Foundation.

Khadija Ashour Abbas, who works in the date sector and attended the training in Basra, explained: “Life is very expensive and I have five children to support,” said the agricultural engineer. “I have a business idea and I have some background in setting up a business, but I need more information on how to start a business and manage my finances.”

The programme addresses some of the barriers that women face in the world of work, particularly in relation to business development, through the delivery of various modules that focus on business management and soft skills.

Sivan Shawkat lives in Zakho in the Dohuk Governorate and is looking to start her own business. “The training taught me how to plan and expand a business,” Shawkat said. “I also acquired communications skills through this training.”

Israa Adnan Yousef, is a twenty-three-year-old doctoral student in agricultural engineering. She wants to set up a business producing and selling fertilisers. She also took part in the training in Basra. “This training was useful as it introduced us to some very important information; such as how to create a business plan, the risks associated with setting up a business and what some of the legal requirements are in setting up a business.”

The entrepreneurs are being trained by potential trainers, who have embarked on becoming ILO certified trainers. This process for the trainers entails a series of training of trainers’ workshops, in addition to conducting at least three of their own trainings of entrepreneurs and developing an action plan specific for the Get Ahead programme. Those who successfully complete the requirements, will become certified trainers - responsible for adapting the training material and providing further training and coaching to potential entrepreneurs or current owners of small businesses.

“I took part in the Training of Trainers (TOT) sessions because I do not have a TOT certificate,” said Mahmoud Mohammed Amin, a business management professor at the University of Dohuk and owner of a company supporting business development. “I benefited from the sessions and now I am implementing this knowledge through the current training (of entrepreneurs).”

Zainab Rahim al-Mousawi has been a trainer for around ten years in business management and marketing. She took part in the ILO’s Training of Trainers workshop in Basra. “This training had elements which can complement my way of working, such as the interactive activities – the games and the exercises, which were introduced to us. These activities enhance the knowledge of trainees in the material that is being taught.”

The EU-funded project places emphasis on improving working conditions in Iraq’s agricultural sector by promoting workers’ skills development, encouraging more women to set up small businesses, and by improving the working conditions on farms through the application of International Labour Standards and national labour legislation. 

The project will continue to provide women with post-training support, such as mentoring and linkages to non-financial and financial service providers to build their management and soft skills to start and run their business, and enlarging the pool of institutions that can better serve women entrepreneurs through targeted capacity building interventions.