PROSPERITY CATALYST IN IRAQ
In Iraq, Relief International estimates that over 1.5 million women (almost 10% of all women in the country) are widowed and that 56% of these widows are living in poverty and are unable to meet their monthly household needs.
Our work in Iraq has a special emphasis on supporting and providing economic opportunities for female heads of household, IDPs, and other vulnerable women.
Our Work in Iraq
In 2013, Prosperity Catalyst launched an innovative and market-driven model in Baghdad, Iraq, with the goal of creating economic opportunity for hundreds of Iraqi women. What started as a successful pilot project run by our sister social enterprise Prosperity Candle in 2009 is now growing into a dynamic social business venture. Despite the incredibly challenging environment, Prosperity Catalyst is witnessing real progress toward the goal of launching sustainable, women-led businesses and creating prosperity for hundreds of aspiring women artisans and entrepreneurs.
How It All Began: Women’s Empowerment through Business (WEB) Program in Baghdad
In 2015, Prosperity Catalyst launched a candle-making enterprise to serve as the basic foundation of an export hub in Iraq. In order to achieve this, Prosperity Catalyst offered business management and technical training to 200+ vulnerable women and provided 64 kits to women to launch their microbusinesses from home.
Beyond Trainings: Launching the Business
No matter how intensive and business-oriented our trainings are, we know that long-term sustainability and scalability requires targeted investment in product development, marketing, and sales. The local, for-profit export hub in Baghdad provides inputs for products, product design assistance, and market access. Currently, the business has engaged 75 women who have produced more than 10,000 candles for the Akkadian Collection, which have been shipped to the United States to fulfill international orders.
The Akkadian Collection, which can be viewed by visiting https://www.catalystcollections.com/collections/akkadian-collection was the outcome of a collaboration with a product development consultant to create a high end and unique line of Iraqi products inspired by ancient culture in the region. Through participation in several tradeshows in major US cities in 2015 and 2016, the program has generated $138,000+ in sales, which have increased the average income of our program participants by 60%.
Expansion to the North: Business Creation & Market Access for Female IDPs, Minorities, and Heads of Household
Following the success of the launch of the export hub, Prosperity Catalyst has begun an innovative program addressing the need for economic opportunity for women, particularly IDPs. In partnership with Women’s Empowerment Organization (WEO) based in Erbil, Prosperity Catalyst has provided 500+ women IDPs in Erbil and Dohuk with technical training in sewing and jewelry and is currently training women in business development and marketing.
Prosperity Catalyst, in collaboration with local and international consultants and designers, is working on creating jewelry and quilts inspired by Iraqi heritage and appropriate for the US market. In parallel with the design effort, Prosperity Catalyst is strengthening the fulfillment and production procedures in the Baghdad business hub. We are also working actively to overcome the lack of dependable raw materials and resources in Iraq to fulfill the production of high quality of products.