18 April 2009
In 2005 on a dusty road in Tuz, Iraq, an American solder was killed by a roadside bomb. His fellow soldiers soon discovered that the assassin was no hardened terrorist, but an unemployed father of six who had been paid $200 to plant the explosive. Such situations are not uncommon in Iraq, where high unemployment spawned many “economic insurgents”—often unideological Iraqis in need of cash, who became easy recruits. It was, in part, in response to examples like this that a trio of former military officers created the Marshall Fund, a private-equity fund making only non-oil investments in smallish firms in Iraq. “Without thriving businesses and the jobs they create, Iraq will never be stable,” says Dan Rice, who founded the fund along with Wayne Culbreth and Andrew Eberhart. Late last year it closed on its first investment, a tomato-processing plant in the northern region of Harir.