After fleeing genocide and persecution by the Islamic State(IS), the Christians and Yezidis of Iraq are able to return to their home and areas of former businesses. However, their businesses and towns have been completed destroyed and the people who return find themselves facing an unstable security situation, compounded by dire economic challenges. Without jobs or major economic revitalization projects underway to create thriving jobs underlying issues such as poverty, migration and instability will continue to form barriers to peace and stability. Peace is a key component to sustainable development with a healthy business environment key to that development.
Shai Fund’s project restores and restarts businesses as a means of transforming the economic situation in devastated towns and villages, while combatting poverty. This project gives returning minorities, who often are excluded from chances for long term peace through economic development, the opportunity to work and earn a living, which is one of the most effective ways for them to rebuild their lives with dignity and purpose. It assists religious minorities resettling in their liberated cities by funding small and medium sized businesses through specific grants in order to strengthen these beleaguered communities, to promote economic self-reliance and sustainability, and to rebuild their future in order to thrive in their homeland.
This project seeks to strengthen these minority communities economically to combat ongoing attempts to eradicate the minorities from the region. Most critical is a sense of solidarity to be transferred to minority communities that have suffered the genocide in Iraq in a practical way, which also provides them with hope and dignity. They feel forgotten and hopeless because their suffering (including their security needs)has been largely unaddressed economically.
By reaching these communities with jobs and revitalization of the economy, Shai Fund is able to give people hope and the practical ability to rebuild their lives. This project uses businesses to help fight poverty, and in turn makes the returning minorities self-sustaining. It combats further displacement and emigration from Iraq as it anchors them back in their towns. Importantly, it combats attempts to exchange populations via colonization linked to population displacement, continued harassment, and forced sale of their lands and businesses due to the inability to survive the significant hurdles they are facing, following the genocide.
This project started in 2017 and has been ongoing since that time. With new funding received in 2020 from Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity another 12 businesses were completed in 2020. Due to Covid-19 the project has continued into 2021 with the Aurora Funding. Subsequently, the project will be looking for furture funding for 2021.
In 2020 the project opened the following businesses in 2021 with an estimate of close to 4000 customers per month from the businesses.