Entrepreneurship for Refugees
Iraqis have fled conflict in their own country to live in many other nations in the region. As many as 18,000 may be in Lebanon. Most of them are single men, who have quickly run through any savings they might have brought with them, and are unable to find work because residence visas in Lebanon require payment of a bond.
IRD, with funding from the U.S. Department of State, is working with young Iraqi men, aged 20-35, to provide entrepreneurship training within a Lebanese small business, building entrepreneurship skills on the job for one year in order to better prepare them for the job market should they choose to return to Iraq.
Through the Entrepreneurship for Refugees (EFR) program, IRD is working with a network of businesses to assume bond costs for residence visas for Iraqi men participating in the entrepreneurship program. The entrepreneur can then employ the Iraqi at apprentice rates, up to three months of ware subsidized by IRD while the work permit is being processed. This creates a win-win situation whereby the Iraqi gains business skills, earns an income, and has legal status for one year, while the Lebanese business owner has a dedicated apprentice at a low cost.
There is a lack of information among Iraqis in Lebanon as to specific conditions in Iraq. Iraqis in Lebanon need up to date information related to the improved security and employment prospects in parts of Iraq, return and reintegration support services, and resettlement information that reflects realities of, limits of, and eligibility for resettlement. IRD is sharing up to date information on changing conditions in Iraq, based on the organization’s own experience in that country, through social functions, newsletters, and outreach networks.
IRD, in partnership with the Khiam Rehabilitation Center, is training volunteers, (KRC) to provide clear, thorough, and objective information to Iraqis wanting to return, preparing them for reintegration opportunities upon return and to better manage their expectations. Returnees are also linked to the AMAN Network, a group of centers working in the area of rehabilitating victims of violence and torture, and its member institutions in Iraq, therefore providing some continuity to psycho-social support upon return to Iraq.