Empowerment: “I’ll Do Whatever It Takes to Keep My Children In School”

Abeer, a new business woman in Kirkuk, smiles with pride.

If Abeer had been born in Canada, Germany, or Singapore, it’s likely that she would be the successful head of a large company by now. She’s bright, hardworking, and savvy. She has a keen mind for business. She has vision—the ability to “see” something fully formed before it’s been created.

But Abeer was born in Iraq during turbulent times. She is one of the millions of internally displaced people here who have lost their homes, belongings, and sense of security. She is starting life over again, with six children, including a son with developmental disabilities.

Violence took away Abeer’s home, but it couldn’t take her values or her sense of self. She is still bright, hardworking, and savvy—and those qualities are serving her well.

“I’ll do whatever it takes to keep my kids in school” she said. Abeer wasn’t able to finish school herself. She had to work to help support her family, so she knows the value of education. She often says that her main responsibility is to educate her children so they can have a different future. Her love for her children drives every decision she makes, including applying for a Preemptive Love Empowerment grant for small businesses to open a corner store selling household items, snacks, and cold drinks.

Abeer's son helps her in the shop.

With few resources, the upper apartment they could afford to rent is old and in rough shape, but the building had one feature that made it attractive: on the ground floor was a dark, dirty storage room used to store old machine parts. Abeer looked at that space and saw a corner store, and she set out to make the that store a reality. 

She moved out all of the machine parts, cleaned it, painted it, wired it, and prepared it to be a store. She had a large window opening cut into the wall, and installed electrical wiring. She transformed a dark, dingy space into something bright and welcoming. But the space wasn’t a store quite yet…it was empty. 

And that’s where you came in. Like most corner shops, Abeer’s store stocks what you might discover you’ve run out of in the middle of making dinner, plus snacks for kids. The empowerment grant provided shelving, a refrigerator to keep milk and yogurt fresh, and carefully chosen stock. The shop is bright and tidy, and it’s also proving a success.

Products neatly line the shelves in Abeer's shop.

Abeer’s hard work and vision are paying off. The store has been open for three weeks, and she’s already making a modest daily profit. Most of those profits are being saved to purchase a freezer so she can sell ice cream as soon as the weather heats up. 

She’s already planning an expansion to her product line, and she’s doing it without our help! 

Because of the store, Abeer is able to pay the fees to keep her kids in school. Her son with developmental disabilities helps his mother in the shop, so he has meaningful work that keeps him busy during, and off the streets and out of reach from ISIS ideologies. The neighbours have a convenient spot to shop for their needs. And Abeer gets to use her skills and vision to make a difference for her family. 

She is overwhelmed with gratitude for the chance to open this shop, and smiled through our entire visit. This small empowerment grant has made a huge impact. Thank you!

Abeer stands inside her shop, a proud new business owner.


To continue to support life-changing empowerment projects through small business grants, click here