Market Fair Enables Iraqi Businesses
Leaders from Rabi speak to people from the Suleikh, Tunnis and Qahira neighborhoods in the Adhamiya District of Baghdad during a market fair in Suleikh Feb. 9. The event was hosted to provide business coaching and to help citizens organize an area market action committee, a non-profit business committee similar to a chamber of commerce. The Rabi leaders were able to give a first-hand perspective of how the MAC, which is already set up in their area, has benefited them.
by Pfc. April Campbell
3rd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division-Baghdad
In the late-morning sunlight, the crowd paid close attention to the speaker. He was one of them â€“ a home-grown leader.
They heard this meeting would offer them benefits, and Fikrat Kareem, the neighborhood advisory council leader for Tunnis, was introducing the dayâ€™s topic â€“ their neighborhood economies.
An estimated 200 Iraqi residents from the Qahira, Suleikh and Tunnis neighborhoods in the Adhamiya District of Baghdad began planning for the economic future of their areas by attending a market fair in Suleikh Feb. 9.
Along with seminars providing business management coaching, the event, coordinated through the combined efforts of Iraqi and coalition forces leaders in the area, also introduced these Iraqis to the concept of a market action committee. These committees have proved successful in nearby neighborhoods within Adhamiya.
Col. Jeffery Bonner, a Fayetteville, Tenn., native, who serves as an agricultural and commercial business development officer with embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team, is helping to implement the MAC idea in neighborhoods throughout Adhamiya.
The idea behind the market action committee is â€œto get leaders (within) these specific areas to come together to form a council under the government of Iraq as a not-for-profit organization,â€ said Bonner.
Being a non-profit organization will enable these groups to work with representatives from organizations, such as the United States Agency for International Development, added Bonner.
Robert C. Dose, an agricultural market specialist with the USAID-sponsored Agribusiness Program, was present at the event.
â€œThis area is on the edge of an agricultural production area and an urban area,â€ Dose said. â€œWeâ€™re here to provide new technology in areas such as food processing and packaging.â€
The ability of civilian representatives from such organizations to come to the area to work with Iraqi citizens is largely due to the improved level of security provided by the Iraqi security forces, Sons of Iraq volunteers and Multi-National Division â€“ Baghdad forces.
â€œThis whole area has become permissive for us to work with the local leaders,â€ said Dose. â€œSix months ago, we wouldnâ€™t have come here.â€
Not only was the market fair, in large part, a direct result of the increased area security, but it is also a way to help ensure the area stays safe.
â€œIn order to maintain the positive security momentum,â€ said Bonner, â€œwe have to have some vehicle to start bringing life back into the community and allow people the means of creating some personal revenue.â€
In addition to enabling USAID and other representatives to work with the neighborhood business leaders, the MACs also act as advocates from the business community to local governments.
Having an organization who can communicate with the local government about the forecast of different capitalization projects in the area is important when attempting to rebuild a neighborhood fixture such as the local marketplace, said Bonner.
It is important not to rebuild an entire market, said Bonner â€œonly to find out that four months later, the local government is going to come and tear up the street and sidewalks to go put in water lines or gas lines.â€
Iraqis who attended the fair walked away with a sense of hope.
Muthier Salah Abidilkhalik of Suleihk, said he attended the fair because he heard there would be projects to help his neighborhood people.
The idea of the people working together to better the neighborhood economies will benefit the area now and also in the future, he said .
the attachments to this post:
This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 12th, 2008 at 11:00 am and is filed under War on Terror, Iraq, War on Terror, Iraq, Rebuilding, War on Terror. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.