On Monday, September 25, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Masrour Barzani introduced a groundbreaking initiative known as Project Bloom, or Geshanewe in Kurdish, that is designed to provide financial support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) operating within the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). Accompanied by high-ranking officials from the KRG and foreign diplomats stationed in Erbil, Prime Minister Barzani unveiled this ambitious endeavor.
In his announcement, Prime Minister Barzani expressed his satisfaction in presenting the KRG's Project Bloom, emphasizing its role in disbursing commercial loans to SMEs. These loans will be facilitated through private banking institutions, ushering in a new era of economic opportunity for the region.
Project Bloom aligns with the government's strategic agenda to foster business growth and bolster the private sector.
In recent years, the private sector has collaborated closely with the public sector, contributing significantly to the development of the KRI’s economic infrastructure. Prime Minister Barzani underscored the importance of SMEs, revealing that they account for approximately 50% of all economic transactions and workforce participation in the region, a statistic supported by research data.
The lack of access to financial resources has long posed a formidable hurdle for businesses and trade in the KRI, preventing entrepreneurs from expanding their enterprises. Recognizing this challenge, Prime Minister Barzani reiterated the government's commitment to addressing it.
Since the inception of the KRG’s Ninth Cabinet, there has been a concerted effort to support both the banking sector and SMEs. This collaborative approach aims to create a conducive environment for economic diversification, laying the foundation for sustained growth. Oversight for Project Bloom is vested in the KRG Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. During the initial stage, the government assigns a budget of 2.5 US dollars. Every prospective project applicant has the opportunity to secure loans of up to 150 million Iraqi dinars (approximately 113 US dollars), which will be provided to small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) proprietors.
PM Barzani delivering a speech at the Project Bloom launch ceremony on September 25, 2023
Business proprietors seeking access to these loans can initiate the application process through a dedicated digital portal, streamlining the application procedure. Prime Minister Barzani underscored the historic significance of this initiative, marking the first time that the KRG has offered loans to business owners through entrepreneurial partnerships and private banks, enabling them to expand their operations professionally.
The Prime Minister conveyed his heartfelt appreciation for the unwavering dedication of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, his dedicated team, as well as the enterprising private banks that are actively contributing to the realization of Project Bloom. This initiative holds the promise of breathing new life into the entrepreneurial landscape of the KRI, fostering economic growth, and enhancing the livelihoods of its citizens.
On his X page, Prime Minister Barzani enthusiastically celebrated the project as a revolutionary endeavor.