Global Communities began working in Iraq in June 2003, just two months after the end of Saddam Hussein’s government. The Iraqi people were facing a host of challenges in rebuilding the political, social and economic institutions of their society in recovering from years of conflict.
With funding from USAID, Global Communities is implementing the Governance Strengthening Program (GSP) to help provincial and local governments be more responsive to community needs. The program focuses on institutional strengthening for targeted provincial and local governments, while promoting executive oversight to hold government ministries accountable for improved services. Based on our experience working in Iraq with Community Action Groups (CAGs), the program helps to ensure the involvement of local NGOs and community-based organizations, including a special focus on the participation of women.
Owners of small to medium-sized enterprises and home-owners had traditionally been excluded from mainstream loans and other services and had to turn to local moneylenders who often charged prohibitively high interest rates. With the aim of stimulating the Iraqi economy, Global Communities created the Access to Credit Services Initiative (ACSI), a major development finance program that provides loans to Iraqi entrepreneurs and home-owners to expand their businesses or improve their living conditions. Established in 2003, ACSI provides small, affordable loans to Iraqi individuals who do not otherwise have access to sufficient capital. Families use these loans for home improvement or to expand their small-businesses, thereby improving quality of life; enhancing their financial stability and personal safety, and improving local economies in hundreds of communities across Iraq. Operating in 11 governorates in Iraq – including the cities of Baghdad, Karbala, Najaf and Basra – ACSI has become the largest microfinance program in Iraq.
In 2004, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) saw a market gap in the finance industry in Iraq. Middle Market Enterprises – companies larger than small to medium enterprise (SME) – were also being excluded from traditional loans and were hitting a glass ceiling. As a result, CHF International and OPIC set up the Iraq Middle Market Development Foundation (IMMDF) to provide loans of up to $5,000,000 to growing enterprises that showed promise in the recovering Iraqi economy.
From 2003 - 2012, Global Communities worked in three governorates (provinces) in southern and central Iraq on the USAID-funded Community Action Program (CAP). The goal of CAP was to strengthen local governments so that they can more effectively prioritize, plan and implement projects based on the communities’ needs. CAP directly engaged Iraqi community leaders and elected local councils in reconstructing essential infrastructure in their own cities and villages. CAP evolved, from its inception in 2003, from a predominately infrastructure-focused program to a holistic effort that helped build a foundation for democracy and grassroots advocacy mechanisms. To learn more, please read: Iraq – the CHF International Approach.
Global Communities was one of four NGO partners through which the US government provided assistance to Iraqi communities that suffered losses as a result of military operations. By partnering with Iraqi communities and community leaders, Global Communities provided economic and housing assistance through the Marla Ruzicka Iraqi War Victims Fund.