Baghdad, Iraq (ILO News) A new agreement between Italy and the International Labour Organization (ILO) will enhance support to private sector development and decent job creation in Southern Iraq, with a focus on promoting sustainable green businesses.
Under the agreement, hundreds of young women and men looking to grow or develop their micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) will be provided with skills trainings in business management and financial literacy, as well as with access to much-needed financial services.
At the same time, better support to entrepreneurs and MSMEs – to unleash their full potential – will be provided by capacity-building of staff from non-financial and financial institutions, including partner banks, microfinance institutions and service providers.
The agreement between Italy and the ILO was officially launched on Thursday (March 9), at the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, one of the main partners that will work closely with the two counterparts to implement the project. The support from Italy will be delivered through the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS). Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Ahmad Al-Asadi, Italian Ambassador to Iraq Maurizio Greganti, and ILO Country Coordinator in Iraq Maha Kattaa attended the signing ceremony.
“We welcome this new initiative by Italy and the International Labour Organization, which is aligned with our Government’s strategies to promote economic growth, private sector development, employment, and the green economy,” said Minister Al-Asadi. “The Prime Minister launched last week the Riyada initiative to support entrepreneurship and decent work creation among students and youth in Iraq, allowing youth to unleash their potential and encourage the establishment of small and medium enterprises. This is aligned with the government’s approach to reduce unemployment and enhance the reality of investment in a way that contributes to promoting the private sector.”
A thorough assessment of the business environment will be conducted, using ILO’s assessment tool ‘Enabling Environment for Sustainable Enterprises,’ which provides evidence-based recommendations on how to improve the business-enabling environment. The assessment, which will be developed in consultation with ILO’s tripartite constituents and national partners, will help define priorities for a business environment more conducive to sustainable enterprise creation, especially in relation to the development of the green economy.
“We are proud to partner with the International Labour Organization to enhance support for private sector development and job creation in Southern Iraq, with a focus on promoting sustainable green businesses. The partnership will provide critical skills training and access to financial services for entrepreneurs, as well as build the capacities of financial institutions to better support MSMEs, with a specific focus on climate-change resiliency,” said Ambassador Greganti.
“Support to private sector and better jobs has been one of the main priorities of the Italian Cooperation in Iraq since many years and we are eager to work with ILO in support to the green economy priority. During the next three years, we will support the implementation of this project, aiming at the strongest positive impact for entrepreneurs, employees and the sector of financial services that plays a key role in enterprise development,” said Emilio Cabasino, Head of Office at the AICS office for Jordan and Iraq.
The ILO will train and certify trainers from across the spectrum on its well-established business management and financial literacy tools, so they can in return deliver the trainings to potential entrepreneurs.
It will work closely with the Central Bank of Iraq, its partner under financial inclusion initiatives, to further provide access to affordable loans, and build the capacities of partner banks to design products and services to meet their clients’ needs.
“The generous contribution of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, coupled with the involvement of AICS will support efforts to encourage more young women and men to establish green businesses and create decent green jobs that will promote sustainable development and inclusive growth,” said Kattaa.
In addition, the project will collaborate with a range of partners to identify bottlenecks to the formal registration of businesses and seek practical solutions for reducing those barriers, while conducting at the same time awareness-raising campaigns to encourage the registration and formalization of businesses.
The project is part of broader efforts under the Iraq Decent Work Country Programme signed by the Government, employers’ and workers’ organizations and the ILO to promote employment opportunities and decent work. It is in line with the new government Riyada’ initiative for development and employment, which was launched by Prime Minister Mohammed S. Al-Sudani earlier this week.
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Source: Reliefweb, March 9, 2023