Middle East North Africa Investment Initiative (MENA II) - Iraq

Speeches Shim

Iraqi SME Baghdad start-up
Iraqi SME Awael Al Janoob has succeeded in responding to increased demand and growing their business through financial and business support provided by USAID.
GroFin for USAID

USAID is helping Iraqi firms access financing to build a more effective and prosperous business ecosystem.

Project Snapshot

  • Project Name: Middle East Investment Initiative (MENA II) - Iraq 
  • Partner: The Shell Foundation
  • Implemented by: GroFin in collaboration with the Nomou Fund and Osool 
  • Project Duration: 2014-2021
  • Locations: Basrah, Ninewa Plain, and Northern Iraq 
  • Budget: $21 million 


In Iraq, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have struggled to develop due to political instability, insufficient infrastructure, and lack of access to finance and institutional support. In Basrah, the second largest city in Iraq known for its wealth in oil production, economic life continues to lag due to outdated production methods and machinery in other industries and ongoing significant social and political instability. In the Ninewa Plain and Northern Iraq, the violent occupation of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) resulted in a large number of displaced citizens and ravaged infrastructure incapable of supporting business development, resulting in longstanding damage to the local economy.

USAID Response 

Promoting a productive Iraqi SME ecosystem requires ensuring access to financing.  Designed in 2014, USAID’s Middle East and North Africa Investment Initiative (MENA II) seeks to revitalize economic activity in post-ISIS Iraq by providing support to early stage businesses to promote sustainable job creation, improve business competitiveness, and encourage increased equity investment in early stage businesses.   Together with the Shell Foundation, USAID is investing in Iraqi firms based through a development financier specialized in financing and supporting small and growing businesses across the Middle East and Africa.

Achievements to Date 

  • Invested $7.5 million in 12 SMEs in Iraq (north and south), sustaining a total of over 600 jobs and over 4,000 livelihoods.

  • Supported 100 entrepreneurs through business support services, including setting up, formalizing, and sustainably scaling up their businesses.

  • Invested $4 million to support SMEs in the north of Iraq to counter the negative economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.