Building a new future in three days

Speeches Shim

Tuesday, September 22, 2020
Asmaa, a graduate of a three-day Microsoft Office training program funded by USAID and implemented by Top Mountain, now works as a marketing specialist at a real estate company in Erbil.


In June 2014, ISIS took over Mosul, beginning the most dreadful years of Asmaa’s life.

Asmaa, then a junior studying Business Administration at the University of Mosul, was forced to put her studies on hold.

“I lost three years of my education and it had serious consequences on my career path and work opportunities,” said Asmaa.

By 2017, Asmaa was able to resume her studies and graduated with her bachelor’s degree, but she couldn’t recover the years of education and experience as quickly.

“After graduation, I started applying for many jobs, at NGOs and private companies, but I got rejected from them all as I lacked the professional experience required,” she said. “There was one time when I applied for a job, but they rejected me because I failed the Microsoft Office test.”

But Asmaa was determined to forge a career for herself.

“From that moment on, I started searching for online training courses on Facebook and this is how I found out about the training offered by Top Mountain Business Incubator. The 3-day intensive training helped me recover the impact of losing 3 years I lost at University”, she remarked.

The USAID-funded Business Incubator and Employment Program in Iraq is implemented by Top Mountain and offers free training courses to Iraqi youth and persecuted minorities that have faced violence and suffered displacement caused by ISIS in Northern Iraq. The program is designed to develop their employability skills and elevate their career opportunities. 

Asmaa attended the 3-day Microsoft Office training in Spring 2019 to learn essential technical skills needed in her professional career. She now works as a marketing specialist at a real estate company in Erbil.

“In my current job as a marketing specialist, I suggested using PowerPoint to my colleagues to better present information to our clients,” said Asmaa. “In addition, I learned Microsoft Excel, which has been one the most important skills that I have been able to apply in my work such as creating invoices, financial and balance sheets. This has greatly boosted my confidence and determination.”

To date, Top Mountain has utilized USAID funding to offer free training in soft and technical skills to bolster their career opportunities to nearly 600 Iraqis. Despite the current challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Top Mountain is keeping the momentum going for future Iraqi leaders through online courses in topics from interview skills to digital marketing.  

“Young Iraqi professionals like Asmaa will build their country’s future,” said Miran Dizayee, Program Chief of Party at Top Mountain. “Thanks to support from USAID, we’re able to help them take the first steps toward building their careers.”