Servicemembers work with Iraqi businesses
September 8, 2009
A woman with a head dress and pink eye shadow pointed at the different diagrams shown in a booklet explaining her business' capabilities during a fair held by the Victory Regional Contracting Center.
The fair occurred in the field house on Camp Liberty, Aug. 19 to help Iraq restore its economy.
"We are establishing a relationship to work together," Cpt. Angela Smoot, High Point, N.C., contracting specialists, 46th Engineer Battalion, Joint contracting command Iraq/Afghanistan, said. "We are building bonds; that's why the theme of the event was titled, 'Forging Partnership Through Procurement."
The event had more than 70 Iraqi vendors displaying their business capabilities to Servicemembers and civilians. The businesses offered services such as cleaning, laundry and maintenance. Other businesses offered construction, gravel and general supplies.
"I was expecting a few vendors," Air Force Master Sgt. Allen Matthews, lodging section chief, 447 Expeditionary Force Support said. "To my amazement it was above my expectations. All vendors were very professional in how they offered to show their products to someone as a customer."
The JRCC has a system called the Joint Contingency Contracting System where Iraqi vendors register online to begin the process of gaining business opportunities with government venues. Vendors are trained through conferences, e-mails, face-to-face contact and phone calls on how to conduct business.
They are then given advisement on how to begin their business. They are assisted through translators and liaisons. Coordination is important to proactively solve any problems with both parties. Ensuring legitimate businesses with the proper registration is the final method put into affect.
"I do think positive results will come out of this," said Smoot. "It was really helpful for the VRCC to see new vendors. Many units came to me and said that they had made contact with new vendors who provided the same services with better prices."
The JRCC is planning a similar event for the Women-Owned Business Program to fight poverty and provide business and economic education to sustain livelihood and communities.
As each customer gazed upon a pamphlet put together by the Iraqi businesswoman she smiled up at them trying her best to accurately answer each individual's questions.
"There is nothing like serving in a foreign country and having direct contact with the people of that country in a positive way," Smoot said. "Planning the event was stressful, but the day of the event was so great. I was happy to feel a sincere connection with the people there."