Sweden: Financing for Iraqi entrepreneurs

Iraqis who leave Sweden to start a business in their homeland can receive financing from Swedfund, Sweden's state venture capital fund.

The suggestion comes from Sweden's foreign aid minister Gunilla Carlsson, who hopes that the pilot project will demonstrate new thinking in how foreign aid is applied.

"These are people with a lot of knowledge, a huge level of commitment, knowledge of Iraq, and who, with their contacts, can enrich Swedish development aid if we simply create the space for them to do it. We also want to see whether we can distribute money more quickly," said Carlsson to the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.

The pilot project would allow Iraqis looking to start or expand a business in the war torn country to receive support from Swedfund in the form of loans or shared financing.

In order to qualify, Iraqi entrepreneurs would also need to contribute their own capital and be ready to take on full responsibility for the business's operations.

"We have a huge advantage because 1.2 million of those who live here were born outside of Sweden. When we now are fighting against social exclusion and segregation it's quite foolish to not see the potential. There are a huge number of people with good business sense, and that is something we can help export. It will also help strengthen links between Sweden and Iraq," added Carlsson.

Carlsson considers the pilot program a good example of "new thinking" about foreign development policy by the centre-right government.

"If this turns out to be successful and give good results, I can imagine doing it on a larger scale," she said.

Source: The Local (English)

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