Salah Naeem Hanna was forced to flee his home of 40 years because of the sectarian violence that gripped Baghdad in 2006. With his family of four, he moved back to his childhood hometown in the Nineveh Plains in northern Iraq and became an internally displaced person (IDP).
“We suffered a lot. I could not get a job” said Hanna. “My two children had to drop out of school to find work, but they could only find temporary, low-paying jobs. They were difficult years.” In 2010, Hanna, a cook by training, opened a small store selling frozen foods using his family’s meager savings. He named the store, which provided a small improvement in the family’s financial situation, “Al-Hilal Food Supplies.”
Hanna wanted to expand the small business but lacked the money to do so. In February 2012 he received a loan as part of the USAID-supported Iraqi Vulnerable Groups Support Initiative, which helps IDPs, among many other groups. The program provided Hanna with $12,500 loan through the Mosul Bank, to be paid back in a 24-month period. The loan enabled him to buy new freezers, along with other equipment, and consolidate five neighboring shops into one large storage space. He hired three female workers, in addition to his son and daughter. His menu of frozen foods increased to 16 different items.
The 50-year-old Hana describes his success. “I started distributing to different areas, even outside Mosul, including Basrah. My business kept growing. I have two shifts now. Before taking the loan, I would sell items worth around $80 a day in frozen foods. Now I sell [food] worth $800 a day!” Standing next to his son, he adds, “there is still room for more expansion and we will make it. We have come a long way, but there is still more to do!”