• HAMAMIAT, Iraq - A local seamstress fills out a micro-grant request form May 6 from Company B, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, at a sewing shop that doubles as a sewing school. Micro-grants provide money through the Commanders' Emergency Response Program to purchase items such as sewing cloth and equipment for the students at the school. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Kimberly Hackbarth, 4th SBCT PAO, 2nd Inf. Div., USD-C)

    Sewing shop that doubles as sewing school

    HAMAMIAT, Iraq - A local seamstress fills out a micro-grant request form May 6 from Company B, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, at a sewing shop that doubles as a sewing school. Micro-grants...

  • HAMAMIAT, Iraq - Soldiers with Company B, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, visit students and workers at a local sewing shop May 6 to distribute micro-grant applications. Micro-grants provide money through the Commanders' Emergency Response Program to purchase items such as cloth and thread for students at the school. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Kimberly Hackbarth, 4th SBCT PAO, 2nd Inf. Div., USD-C)

    The local sewing shop

    HAMAMIAT, Iraq - Soldiers with Company B, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, visit students and workers at a local sewing shop May 6 to distribute micro-grant applications. Micro-grants...

  • HAMAMIAT, Iraq - Pfc. Daniel Flores, a rifleman with Company B, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, bonds with local children outside a falafel shop here May 6 while a noncommissioned officer from his platoon gives micro-grant paperwork to the shop's owner. Micro-grants provide money through the Commanders' Emergency Response Program to improve local businesses and promote commerce in the area. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Kimberly Hackbarth, 4th SBCT PAO, 2nd Inf. Div., USD-C)

    Bonding with the locals

    HAMAMIAT, Iraq - Pfc. Daniel Flores, a rifleman with Company B, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, bonds with local children outside a falafel shop here May 6 while a noncommissioned officer...

  • HAMAMIAT, Iraq - Seven-year-old Ali watches his father, Majid, a falafel shop owner, write out a list of things he would like to use micro-grant money for in order to provide better service for his customers during a visit by Soldiers from Company B, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, May 6. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Kimberly Hackbarth, 4th SBCT PAO, 2nd Inf. Div., USD-C)

    Watching his father

    HAMAMIAT, Iraq - Seven-year-old Ali watches his father, Majid, a falafel shop owner, write out a list of things he would like to use micro-grant money for in order to provide better service for his customers during a visit by Soldiers from Company B...

HAMAMIAT, Iraq - There's an empty space where a front window should be, letting in flies that climb over food waiting to be sold to customers, while dust coats the shelves at a hole-in-the-wall falafel shop in Hamamiat.

Shop owner, Majid Saadoon Noor, is caught in a catch-22. He believes that with improvements to his shop, he can double his business. However, because he isn't drawing in enough customers, he can't make enough money to afford those improvements. He also is unable to secure a small business loan because they are unavailable from Iraqi banks.

There is help. U.S. forces are offering micro-grants to Iraqi small business owners to help grow the local economy.

Company B, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment Soldiers visited Majid's falafel shop and another business to hand out paperwork for the shop owners to apply for the micro-grants.

Funding for micro-grants comes from the Commanders' Emergency Response Program, explained Staff Sgt. Carl Hendricks, a squad leader with B Co., 2nd Bn., 23rd Inf. Regt.

Commanders in the battalion, working with local Iraqi leaders, choose businesses they feel would be the best candidates to help boost the local economy, foster security and leave a positive impression in the community long after the brigade redeploys.

Through micro-grants of up to $5,000, business owners can purchase air conditioners, windows, appliances and furniture, something Majid said he would like for his shop to make his customers happier.

"I'm looking forward to improving the service provided," said Majid.
Local citizens and members of the Iraqi Security Forces view the falafel stand as a main stop for food, so getting the owner better conditions for his products helps the people in that area, said Hendricks.

At a nearby sewing shop, which also serves as a school where Iraqi women learn how to sew, a different need was identified.

Unlike the falafel shop, the work area in the sewing shop does not need as much structural work. However, the women lack many of the necessary supplies for sewing, such as fabric and thread.
The head teacher at the school also filled out paperwork given to her by the Soldiers to apply for a micro-grant.

"It'll help (the populace) so that when we do leave, they're able to have food and have their schools," said Hendricks. "They can be independent."

Page last updated Tue May 11th, 2010 at 13:17