Ahmed Hussein took part in Mosaic’s 2013 International Leadership Programme (ILP) which helped him set up a financial literacy project which supports and empowers Iraqi women to enter the workplace, by providing business management training to teach them how to start-up and develop their own businesses.
Ahmed took the skills he leant on the ILP back to his own community and using guidance from his ILP mentor, brought his idea to life. He explains: “My project helps young widowed women and girls in semi-urban areas to have their own income and make them independent. These women just need a little bit of support from someone who can help them. They want to work but don’t know how to get started.
“One of the ladies I helped came to be afterwards and told me how grateful she was that she no longer depends on her husband in terms of money. She compared it to being released from prison. Now she is free to make money through her own business and depend on herself’.”
Before participating in the ILP, Ahmed, 30, studied literature and language at Sulimaniyah University in Iraq and now works as a community relations advisor for Exxon Mobil. Prior to that his career was spent with various Non-Government Organisations working on local community projects focused on child protection issues and women’s empowerment, including Save the Children and Relief International.
Since taking part in the ILP, Ahmed’s economic empowerment programme has grown quickly, and so far 78 women from rural and urban areas have been selected and trained on business start-up and development. Other women have also connected with the micro-finance programme and received loans to either start, or develop their own businesses.
One of these women is 40-year-old Kamila Adel, a married mother of three, who took out a loan to buy a van and set up a business selling groceries in her village area of Rizgari in Iraq.
Ahmed said the ILP programme had a huge impact on his whole life, especially in terms of decision making.
“The programme encouraged me to quickly do something to help my community and my people once I returned home. I realized my community needs me and people like me to undertake development projects,” said Ahmed.
“Before the programme I stayed in my comfort zone and didn’t participate in any big initiatives, but afterwards I realized that being in my comfort zone wouldn’t help me to develop as a leader. I learnt that good leaders should take action and have a positive impact on their communities. Also, the network of other 80 young leaders I met at the summit provides a life-long connection to be able to exchange cultural knowledge.
“If you want to change yourself or people around you, then apply for this amazing programme!”