International Finance Corporation Hosts Conference at AUIS | The American University of Iraq Sulaimani

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International Finance Corporation Hosts Conference at AUIS

Wednesday, June 1, 2016 - 16:45

The American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS) hosted and organized an event for the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group on May 23, 2016. The conference served as an introduction to IFC activities and investments in Iraq, and their advisory services with a focus on corporate governance. 

Dr. Barham Salih, founder and chairman of the AUIS Board of Trustees, opened the event with a keynote speech, followed by a presentation by Ziad Badr, IFC's principal country manager in Iraq. 


The one-day event hosted interactive sessions on improving corporate governance standards for family firms, as well as innovative small and medium enterprises SMEs and value chain solutions through developing distributors’ management and technical capacities, and management skills through IFC’s Business Edge training. The sessions were attended by private sector enterprises, entrepreneurs, small and medium companies as well as AUIS alumni who own businesses or work in the private sector in Sulaimani.

“Iraq is in the midst of a very dire financial crisis: oil revenues have plummeted, and our revenue management system has failed. A new economic development strategy will have to adapt to this new reality,” said Dr. Barham Salih in his opening speech,“We need to find ways of turning challenges into opportunities for investors and entrepreneurs in Iraq.”
IFC has managed to provide skills management training to over 1600 entrepreneurs and supported more than 300 SMEs with corporate governance training in Iraq. The initiative is part of IFC efforts to spur private sector growth in the country by improving SMEs’ management skills, business performance and competitiveness. There are over 1 million micro, small and medium enterprises in Iraq currently, contributing about two-thirds of private sector employment. Recent studies show 80 percent face difficulties in accessing finance and scaling up, with many closing within five years of operations.

Supporting SMEs and fostering sustainable business is a strategic priority for IFC in Iraq, given the current economic challenges,” said Ziad Badr, “Improving the managerial capacity, business performance and competitiveness of smaller Iraqi firms will help boost economic growth and create jobs.”

Expanding on the importance of corporate governance, Dr. Amira Agag and Dr. Mohammed Radwan identified the centralization of decision-making, absence of long-term planning, and weak internal monitoring mechanisms, among others, as major challenges observed in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). In the same vein, Sylvia Zulu pointed to some of the impediments to SMEs development in the country. Those include difficult access to financing services, unfavorable business environment, insufficient infrastructure, general instability, and taxation systems. In both cases, IFC also proposed solutions to address to barriers to private sector development, and provide advisory services to help implement those solutions.

“AUIS is honored to be partnering with IFC for such an important event. We believe that developing entrepreneurial minds is crucial to economic development, private sector growth in Iraq and the Kurdistan region. AUIS through its commitment to excellence in education, is also contributing. We are building capacity and striving to constantly improve the set of skills available,” commented Dr. Salih on partnering with the IFC for this conference, which is hoped to lead to further collaboration between IFC and AUIS in the future.

About IFC

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. Working with more than 2,000 businesses worldwide, they use their capital, expertise, and influence, to create opportunity where it’s needed most. In FY15, their long-term investments in developing countries rose to nearly $18 billion, helping the private sector play an essential role in the global effort to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit