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An Iraqi business owner receives a grant from Capt. Paul Webber, company commander, Company F, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, and Gnather Iraqi Police officials July 7, in Karma, Iraq. The grant was intended to help his business and benefit the local economy. Three other local business owners also received grants. (Photo by Cpl. Chadwick deBree)

Photo by Cpl. Chadwick deBree

A boost to the economy

7 Jul 2008 | Cpl. Chadwick deBree and Cpl. Steven McGinnis

KARMA, Iraq – A large percentage of new businesses in the U.S. fail within the first year. Starting a business in Iraq is no different, if not harder, but with the help of Marines with Company F, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, four Iraqi businessmen have hopes of beating the odds.

Senior leaders of the company met with the businessmen, a carpenter, a pharmacist, a car painter and a mechanic, July 7 at Gnather Iraqi Police Station and handed them each a micro-grant to help jump start their businesses. The grants were available as part of the Micro-grant Program, started by RCT-1 in an effort to improve the economy in its area of operations by supporting small business owners.

 Approximately $10,000 was distributed among the four businessmen, who were chosen based on an assessment by Marines and IPs while on patrols.

“We had (business owners) fill out questionnaires,” said 1st Lt. Aaron Brusch, Executive Officer, Company F, 2nd Bn., 3rd Marines. “Out of the 50-plus questionnaires we received back, (leaders in) our company prioritized which of them seemed most likely to benefit from the grants.”

The store owners who applied for the grants were prioritized based on the type of service they provided, how much the grant could help each individual improve their business and how their improved business could contribute to the overall economy.

Each recipient was excited to receive the funds. All said they would either hire more workers or buy supplies they previously could not afford.

 “I can’t explain how happy and grateful I am to the Marines for helping me and my business,” said Wassan Ahmed Ali. “This will greatly help me, and I appreciate the Marines for everything that they have done to help me and other Iraqis.”

Marines with the company later followed up with the business owners to see how much the grants really helped their businesses.

“All have either hired new workers, bought more supplies or expanded and improved their stores,” said Brusch.