Wednesday, March 30, 2011

FEATURE-Small business struggles in Iraq | Energy & Oil | Reuters

Frustrated by little support from his government and chasing a dream of having his own business, Iraqi nurse Sabah Jassim pooled his savings and turned to a private bank to develop a medical clinic in Baghdad.

Jassim is one of hundreds of entrepreneurial Iraqis eager to start up small and medium enterprises (SMEs) following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq that toppled Saddam Hussein.

Development in Iraq has been stifled by decades of economic sanctions and war and SMEs, often seen as the backbone of a country's economy, have made little progress in Iraq due to high start-up costs and scant government funding.

Chronic power and water shortages, ongoing security concerns and high customs tariffs have all made it difficult for a small business sector to emerge.

"There is no government support. I depended on Ashur bank and on myself. With their help I completed the project," said Jassim, who runs a medical clinic that offers dentistry, gynaecology, pharmaceutical and x-ray services in Baghdad's impoverished Ubaidi district

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