Zhino participating in the class activity Zhino participating in the class activity Photo: UNESCO

In May 2012, the UNESCO Iraq Office launched its project “Fighting Youth Unemployment through Education” in Erbil. The project is funded by the government of Japan, and is implemented in Kurdistan Region as a pilot, in cooperation with Kurdish Regional Government counterparts, specifically the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.


The project has a component that aims at improving youth entrepreneurial skills and prepares them to manage their own businesses. In cooperation with the ILO Regional Office for Arab States, UNESCO used the “Know about Business” toolkit, or KAB, developed by ILO, to train 245 unemployed graduates from Kurdistan Region. The training assisted them to gain the required experience and skills to be successful entrepreneurs.  The new successful business owners will set a path for other unemployed youth to follow, which will in turn decrease the unemployment rate as well as developing the economy of the region.


The training has been implemented in 5 vocational training centres throughout the Kurdistan Region. Each participant had a different reason and a personal story that had brought them to join the training. While interviewing some of the participants, we got to know some interesting stories from them. 


Isra’a Khalaf, is a young, married woman who was displaced with her family to live in Kalar, a town in Suleymaniah province. By joining this training, Isra’a sought to prove that she can start her own sewing workshop. 


During the interview, she expressed her commitment to finish the training, and to submit her business plan at the end of the project so that she can obtain a loan from the Ministry of Labour and Social affairs, provided as part of their contribution to the project. Isra’a was proud of her positive attitude and smiling face. “I will prove to my husband that I can manage my own sewing workshop. I can see myself already doing that in the near future,” she said. 


In Erbil, Zhino applied to the training to learn how to be a business owner. She explained, “I am enjoying this training very much. I don’t know what will be my business plan yet, but I am thinking to find something creative to start.”


Isra’a and Zhino, along with the 243 other participants, are currently awaiting the results of their submitted business plans, now under evaluation by the Ministry. If they succeed, they will be granted loans to start their own businesses under the supervision of business coaches trained by UNESCO, who will mentor the new entrepreneurs during the first few months of their business.  

Additional Info

  • Agency: UNESCO

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